I hope that many of you were able to enjoy the beautiful weekend with your family and friends. This wonderful weather has, in my opinion, made up for the bountiful rain we had this spring. As we think about the upcoming produce season, I hope the following information is helpful for you.
I often get the question, if I’m doing home food preservation, which is best: canning, freezing or drying? You may not like this answer, but it really depends on where you are starting.
Freezing is usually the least expensive method if you already have the freezer. It requires the least amount of equipment with just a container to boil water to blanch items and ice water to cool them quickly. If I’m freezing fruits, I need something to prevent the oxidation; sugar for the syrup; and containers to seal and freeze. You can freeze small amounts of fruits on a tray to use in smoothies and cereals, or vegetables to make a quick stir-fry. You can package amounts for a specific recipe, like your favorite casserole or quick bread to hasten recipe preparation. You can prepare jams and jellies to keep in the freezer without needing to have processing times in a water bath. So, it really does depend on what item you want to preserve and what your wishes are for the end product.
Water bath canning can be used for fruits, pickled products, jams and jellies, or juices. This is also a fairly inexpensive method of preservation as all you need is a large pot deep enough for the water to cover the jars by 2-3 inches. You will need to purchase jars, which may be reused from year to year, but the flat lids are one-time use only. The ring bands may be reused as long as they are in good condition.
Pressure Canning is the most expensive up front with the purchase of the canner, but the jars, lids and rings are the same as for the water bath. The most important thing to remember about pressure canning is that for low-acid foods to be shelf stable, they must be pressure canned.
Again: ALL VEGETABLES, MEATS (POULTRY, GAME, ETC), SOUPS, AND COMBINATION FOODS MUST BE PRESSURE CANNED - this is the only way to kill the botulism spores that could be present.
Pressure canners with a gauge should be tested every year to make sure they are calibrated to process your food correctly. I will be doing canner checks at the following dates and times:
- Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lehman’s in Kidron
- Wednesday, June 21, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mt. Hope Hardware
- Thursday, June 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lehman’s in Kidron
- Wednesday, Aug. 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Mt. Hope Hardware
- Thursday, Aug. 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lehman’s in Kidron
If none of these times work for you, Kate Shumaker, Ohio State University Family and Consumer Sciences Educator in Holmes County, or I can test in the office for a fee of $5, but please call and make an appointment at either Wayne or Holmes County Extension offices.
From apples and asparagus to strawberries and tomatoes, the “Selection, Storing and Serving” fact sheets are also a great resource for you to refer to when you are trying to use or keep your produce. Find details on selection, yield, nutrition, short and long-term storage, and serving ideas for more than 25 different types of Ohio produce. HYG-5507 through HYG-5532. Find them at ohioline.osu.edu