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Douglas County

Preserving the Harvest

by: Susan Farley 
       County Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences 

food being preserved in preservation containers

Successful gardening can result in plenty of produce to enjoy fresh this summer and to preserve for later. Unfortunately, much misinformation about food preservation is available.

When you preserve food at home, especially by canning, you are a scientist. Food preservation isn’t the time to be creative. In addition, food preservation guidelines have changed through the years as scientists learn what is and isn’t safe. Plus, the vegetable varieties available today are not the same as those grown when grandma was canning. For example, tomato varieties have been bred to be less acidic. So, grandma’s famous canned tomato recipe could have dire results when using current tomato varieties.

Take it from one who has survived botulism. While Debbie Miller survived botulism, it was a long recovery. And all of it could have been prevented. Watch and learn from this Utah State University video about Debbie’s experience so this doesn’t happen to you!

Here are some HOT TIPS: Close up image of food being preserved in preservation containers

The acidity of a food determines how it should be canned. Low-acid foods such as meat, poultry, seafood, soups, vegetables (except those that have been acidified), and mixtures of acidic and low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner.

What if you invent your own salsa recipe? Freezing is the best way to preserve salsa made from a recipe that hasn’t been research-tested. If you are using a research-based recipe, follow it carefully. Substituting ingredients and changing proportions can be a recipe for disaster.

Can’t find canning lids?  COVID-19 hit the supply chain of many canning supplies. Resist panic-buying and be careful about scams and off-brands. They may not be the correct size or function properly. Authorized retailers are the best sources for authentic products. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Boiling the lids can result in jars that unseal later.

Are reusable lids safe?  Recent research suggests that reusable lids such as the Tattler-brand will safely seal jars when used for home-based canning. Strictly follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Once you’ve reached ’10 trips’, it’s time to replace the lids (and gaskets) or sooner if you notice cuts or tears.

Should vegetables be blanched before freezing? Most vegetables should be blanched before being frozen. It keeps the vegetables from discoloring, toughening, or developing off-colors or off-flavors during frozen storage.

Is canning foods in the oven safe? No, don’t do it. Other unsafe processing methods include using a microwave, pressure cooker (instead of a pressure canner), electric pressure cooker, dishwasher, slow cooker, sun drying, and open kettle canning. All of these are dangerous on many levels, including jar breakage and improper heat penetration for safety.

Should dial pressure gauges be tested for accuracy? Yes! Get your dial gauge tested FREE at our Extension Office by just dropping it off or make an appointment.

For up-to-date, research-based practices, here’s everything you ever wanted to know:


Free recommended apps to download:  



Also, for free or low-cost ONLINE food preservation classes, contact susanfarley@ksu.edu