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Common canning mistakes you can make



  This program aired back in August 2021

Kailey Foster: It's that time of year again where people are starting to can their local produce. People choose to canned food for a variety of different reasons, but no matter the reason there is going to be some opportunities for error. Joining me today is Kathleen Riggs with USU Extension’s Home and Community department.

So, what are some common mistakes that you see people are making and how can we avoid them?

Kathleen Riggs: It's very interesting that one of the very first things; people treat home food preservation or canning like it's the creative arts.  And that's great in the kitchen when you're just baking or cooking up something for the family. But preservation is a science-based, and research-based, and activity. 

So, we need people to pay attention to the details. And be very specific, treating the kitchen more like a lab. I can go through a few things if you'd like.

KF: Yeah, why don’t you go through a couple of examples for us.

KR: Okay, one common mistake is that people make up their own recipes. This is very common with making salsa. People have a recipe that they've got from somebody, or they love how they make their fresh salsa. And they think well, ‘I should just can this, and then I'd have it all year round.’

But there we have a product that has low and high aptitude combined. And you need to have the right balance of acid and then vegetables that are added in there to make sure the pH is just right.

KF: So, say you do try to make your own recipe, what can be the result of this?

KR: Things that are considered low acids; meat, meat products, vegetables, those things.

If you make up your own recipes and start combining them with other items, there's a little thing that might come into play. And that is the development of botulism. And when the toxins develop in quite a sealed jar, you eat those foods that can result in being very thick and even death. So that is a real caution that I would make.

KF: What kind of problems are you seeing people run into this year as they look into preserving their food for the long term?

KR: Well, our friend COVID-19 really did a real good job on limiting supplies that are available. That was the virus, a lot of manufacturing had to stop. 

And the manufacturers of the cans are no exception. In the meantime, people were just going online and trying to find anything that they could to help get their food preservation done. The result of not using tried and true science-based canning supplies and equipment are the thicknesses.