Spring is here, which means it is time to get canning supplies and equipment checked and ready to use. It is a good time to brush up on safe canning techniques.
Before using it, be sure to get the dial gauge of your pressure canner tested. The spring in the dial gauge can get worn out or stuck, so it needs to be tested annually.
Any low acid foods, like vegetables, meats and some tomato products, need to be canned under pressure in order to reach the temperature required to destroy the disease-causing microorganisms that could be present.
If a pressure gauge is not accurate, it could create an environment inside the canning jar that is not only unsafe but is instead the perfect breeding ground for growing the pathogens. The contamination cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, so the only way to ensure that the food is safe is to preserve it in the correct way.
Pressure canner gauges can be tested at many MU Extension offices in southwest Missouri. For a complete list of county locations, visit MU Extension online at extension.missouri.edu/swregion. Some county extension offices have a minimal charge to test gauges.
One exception is the Greene County Extension Center which no longer tests gauges. Staff there sends all inquiries to Star Appliance, 1774 S Grant Ave, Springfield.
“We don’t have the equipment to test in Greene County,” said David Burton, county program director. “But, it is a convenience to send clients to Star Appliance because they will test gauges for free and if there is a problem, they have parts for repairs. That way you only have to make one stop to get both things done.”
MU Extension has guides and publications explaining how to get started canning and step-by-step instructions on how to use a pressure canner online and at most offices.
MU Extension guide sheets cover topics like canning vegetables, fruits, jams and jellies, tomatoes and tomato products, pickles and pickled products and meat, fish and poultry.
For those wanting to learn pressure canning or need recipes, the Greene County Extension Center sells the 196-page book, “Complete Guide to Home Canning” for $18.
For more information on nutrition, contact one of the following nutrition specialists: Christeena Haynes, in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545. Information is also available online http://extension.missouri.edu.