6 Simple Tips on How to Avoid Botulism in Home Canning




Avoid-Botulism-in-Home-CanningCanning is a great way of preserving food, to keep it safe and nutritious for longer. Not to mention home canning can save you money as well. You can take advantage of these benefits, but only if you do it right.

Botulism Bacteria

Botulism is an illness caused by toxins produced from bacteria called Clostridium botulinum. It is a rare illness, but it does highlight the importance of hygiene and correct procedure when preserving food.

This certainly shouldn’t put you off from home canning, but you should be aware of the facts. In fact canning is usually great for preventing the growth of unwanted microorganisms such as bacteria and molds.

The reason improperly canned food could potentially lead to botulism, is that it creates the right conditions for this type of bacteria to grow. Contaminated food in an oxygen-free environment could allow botulinum bacteria to multiply. Though, as mentioned botulism from food poisoning is very rare and luckily easy to avoid.

Careful Canning

1. Use a pressure canner. This isn’t the same thing as a standard pressure cooker. A pressure canner is specially made for canning, and the recommended way of preserving food safely.

The exact temperature and processing time depends on the food you are canning. Check the instructions that come with the pressure canner to find out the exact requirements. You are aiming to achieve “botulinum cook”, which simply involves cooking at the right temperature to destroy all the harmful microorganisms. As a general guideline, this means reaching 250 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the whole food for at least 3 minutes.

2. Consider the type of food. Preserving pickles and jellies usually doesn’t require the extra step of using a pressure canner, because any food high in salt, sugar or acid is naturally resistant to the growth of harmful bacteria. Placing the jars into boiling water is enough.

However, low acid foods like meats and vegetables should be treated with more caution. To be on the safe side, boil any low acid food for 10 minutes minimum before you serve it.

 3. Avoid poor quality food. The quality and condition of the food you start with is very important. Make sure to use fresh food that you carefully check for any potential damage or problems.

4. Clean as you go. Keeping your work area clean and hygienic is crucial when cooking, and even more so when canning. Always wash your hands and clean the work surface during the process. The food should be thoroughly rinsed and cleaned. The canning jars need to be sterilized before use, by boiling them for several minutes.

 5. Identify spoilt food. Canning will significantly extend the shelf life of your food. But be aware that with prolonged storage, spoilage is inevitable. As the color, flavor or texture changes, you know it is beginning to spoil and no longer safe for eating.

6. Check the jar seal. Using a suitable jar with a self-sealing lid is essential to successfully complete the canning process. You should only ever use jars designed especially for canning. Reusing a lid is not recommended, since you can’t be sure that it has fully resealed.

By following the above advice, you can be sure to have safe and perfectly canned food every time.

 




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