By PEG MEENTS
Home food preservation is a standard of the Ohio State University Extension’s food safety programs. It is a natural outcome from abundant garden produce, and it provided inexpensive food security in years past.
I’m guessing many of you have shared the pleasure of cutting corn for the freezer or seeing a gleaming row of jars cooling on the counter.
Tradition and nostalgia are nice and appropriate for museums and historical settings, but for those actually engaged in home food preservation it is very important to stay up to date! Extension’s goal is to keep consumers informed of the latest scientific research and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommendations.
A primary resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) located at the University of Georgia. While food safety is crucial, they also research the best methods to maintain food quality and nutrition, as well as test new canners and methods.
They have numerous resources available via the internet at www.uga.edu/nchfp and they publish “So Easy to Preserve.” The current sixth edition is our “go-to” resource for all food preservation questions.
For information specifically on canning, you may want to visit www.healthycanning.com. This is a sub-project of cooksinfo.com that seeks to point people toward safe and healthy canning. It’s an engaging site that truly strives to keep abreast of new developments, and there’s great information for beginning to advanced canners.
The age of your reference sources is critical. As a general rule of thumb, information printed before 2009 is out of date.
There is also concern that some canning industry publications are not properly researched. Combination foods such as soups, pickles, salsa, etc., with varied density and acidity, present challenges for “safe” canning.
Here, again, the National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great source for quality tested recipes.
If you are planning to do some home food preservation this year, please remember the importance of following directions carefully.
For canning, in particular, you should know what causes food to spoil and why canning works. Canning should be a matter of careful science, and home canners are wise to remember the old adage of “if in doubt, throw it out.”
OSU Extension has a statewide team that fields food preservation questions throughout the season. For Aug. 1-15 contact Kate Shumaker at email@example.com; Aug. 16-31 contact Chris Kendle at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are some great videos on canning and freezing, and numerous fact sheets on a wide variety of home-processed foods available from OSU Extension. You can find the videos online at go.osu.edu/foodpres and the fact sheets are at ohioline.osu.edu/topic/food
If you need inspiration or a consult for current processing recommendations or recipes, please stop by OSU Extension Hancock, 7868 Hancock County 140, Suite B. We want your experiences with home food preservation to be safe and rewarding!
Meents is program coordinator for family and consumer sciences at the Ohio State University Extension office, Findlay.