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Simplify freezing, canning process

July 13, 2005|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Growing interest in gardening and farmers markets, a desire to increase the number of fruit and vegetable servings, and popular television food shows are stimulating interest in home cooking and food preservation. Home food preservation, canning and freezing, require some time, but advances in food safety, science and technology have simplified the process of preserving summer-fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

With proper planning and equipment, home food preservation is relatively straightforward. Although preparation methods and processing times differ for various fruits and vegetables, the basic principles are similar. Some key rules applicable to both canning and freezing are:

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, free of dents, bruises, insect damage and mold. Select fresh, young, tender vegetables and fresh, firm fruits for canning. Wash produce thoroughly, whether or not it will be pared, because dirt contains some of the bacteria that's hardest to kill.

  • Preserve foods as quickly as possible after harvest, preferably within 24 hours.

  • Choose an up-to-date, tested recipe, and follow the directions exactly. Following directions is critical. The acid content of recipe ingredients will dictate the methods needed to preserve foods successfully. High-acid foods (such as those used with fruit (jelly-making) and tomato products) must be boiled in a hot-water bath for a specific time to kill harmful microorganisms or pathogens that might be present in food.

  • If using a sugar substitute, choose a recipe formulated with the substitute, rather than sugar, to ensure success

  • Varying a recipe, adding more of one ingredient and less of another, can alter the chemical balance required to preserve food safely and can compromise quality. For example, in recipes for homemade salsa, tomatoes are typically the high-acid foods, and onion and green peppers the low-acid foods. Increasing the quantity of onions and green peppers but reducing the quantity of tomatoes alters the balance between foods with high and low acidity.

  • Altering a recipe formulated for food preservation could change the results, which might threaten food safety and quality.



Growing interest in gardening and farmers markets, a desire to increase the number of fruit and vegetable servings, and popular television food shows are stimulating interest in home cooking and food preservation. Home food preservation, canning and freezing, require some time, but advances in food safety, science and technology have simplified the process of preserving summer-fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

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