April Reese
Special to The Union

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May 14, 2013
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Canning potential limited by safety

As a home canner, you might be looking for new recipes to try out. Sometimes you may find inspiration from commercial products found on grocery shelves. But even after scouring through all your recipe books, magazines, and online resources there are still some products for which you cannot find home canning recommendations.

Why is this? What do these companies have that you don’t in your kitchen?

Well, in summary, companies have two things that home canning does not have:

1. Special equipment

2. Lots of money for research.

Commercial facilities have industrial equipment that can reach higher temperatures more quickly than what can be achieved at home. With specialized equipment, they are also able to control the consistency and maturity of ingredients. This control reduces the variability of the canning process, which allows for more reliable research and, therefore, more product development than can be done for home-canning practices.

Companies pay to conduct expensive research in order to determine safe product formulas and processing methods for each and every product. Even if just one ingredient is added to an already approved product, that new recipe must be carefully tested before being manufactured for sale. Acidity levels, water activity and heat penetration are all critical factors influencing processing times, and these factors vary greatly among different recipes.

Proper studies to establish processing times for both commercial and home-canned recipes are crucial to the safety of canned foods. Without proper processing times, there is significant risk of botulism resulting from under-processed canned foods, especially low acid foods. Experimentally determining safe processing times requires a lot of time and money, and there is no easy formula to take into account the way that each product heats in each canning situation. Commercial and home-canning processes are not interchangeable. That is why there are fewer recipes and processes for home canning than many people would like.

Please remember safety and safe home food preservation first. Don’t try a recipe that might be unreliable and not tested. The best source for home canning is always the Ball Blue book of canning, especially for beginners.

April Reese is a certified master food preserver through the University of California at Davis. She has been canning and preserving food for more than 15 years. She can be reached at (530) 274-3871 at the A to Z Supply Garden Center or you can email her questions at april@atozsupply.com.


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The Union Updated May 15, 2013 12:29PM Published May 14, 2013 11:18PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.