When it comes to food preservation, canning has remained a tried-and-true method of keeping many items fresh and delicious for months—and even years. In fact, FoodSafety.gov estimates that as many as one in every five American households cans food. But while this practice is popular, Muzzarelli Farms reminds consumers that it isn’t right for every type of food. To help you protect your pantry, we offer a quick guide to items that are safe to can—and those that are best kept out of the jar.
What Can You Can?
The majority of fruits can be preserved through the traditional boiling water bath method of canning. Since fruit is highly acidic, the temperatures reached by boiling is enough to kill the Clostridium botulinum spores responsible for botulism—a potentially fatal type of food poisoning. Fruits can typically be preserved whole or as jams and preserves.
Unlike fruit, fresh vegetables are low in acid, making them more susceptible to botulism-causing spores. As such, traditional boiling isn’t effective at protecting veggies. However, you can still preserve your farmers’ market haul of veggies if you use a pressure canner—a device that allows for higher internal temperatures to kill microorganisms.
Pressure canning can be used to preserve meat, seafood, and poultry, but these items are too low-acid for the boiling water bath method. Before canning, remove as much fat and oil and possible, as this matter can cause improper sealing, prevent thorough heating, and eventually lead to spoiling.
What Can’t You Can?
While instructions for canning summer squash—including zucchini—do exist, the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) says its best to avoid it. Currently, it is unknown what processing time would be required to kill microorganisms while maintaining the food’s integrity. The thickness of the squash may also interfere with a jar’s heating pattern. If you bought zucchini from your farmers’ market, you can preserve it by freezing or by pickling before canning.
Clemson University and the NCHFP advise against canning dairy products including cheese, butter, and milk. These items are prone to spoiling and there is no proven way to can these items without the risk of botulism.
Canning bread or baking cake mix in a canned jar is not proven to be safe and presents the risk for many health problems. While canned baking mixes may be available commercially, these products utilize additives and preservatives for safety that the typical consumer doesn’t have access to.
If you want to hang onto summer’s harvest, Muzzarelli Farms offers a wide range of local produce at our market in Cumberland County, NJ. From strawberries to tomatoes, we offer an assortment of flavorful fresh vegetables and fruits at our family-owned farm—all without the use of GMOs. We are open seven days a week, 8am to 6pm. To schedule a learn more, call (856) 691-2497.