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Georgia Department of Agriculture

Extension Service Provides Tips On Buying, Using Home Canner

    Proper canning procedures are essential for low-acid food. All meats, fish, poultry and vegetables except  tomatoes  must  be processed  in a home canner.  By using a pressure canner  at  the correct  pounds  of  pressure, you can  obtain  the  temperature, usually 240 degrees F., needed to kill the bacteria that cause  botulism.  Because  these  bacteria are found in soil, they may be  on  your fresh vegetables.  Unless they are destroyed by heat,  they  can grow  in  the  food  and produce a deadly  poison.  

    Here, from the Georgia Extension Service, are some guidelines  on selecting and using pressure canners to achieve the high  canning temperatures needed for food safety.

    There are two basic types of  canners on the market.  One has a dial gauge with a needle that registers  the pressure. The other has  a  weighted  gauge which jiggles when the desired pressure is reached.  Each type of canner  works  well; it is a matter of  personal  preference  and availability  as to which one to use.

    Before using a  pressure canner,  it is important to read the directions.  If  the  canner has  a dial gauge, it should be tested once a year for  accuracy.  For  information  on  testing a dial gauge,  contact  your  local county  Extension agent.

    Auctions or garage sales may  not  be the best places to buy a pressure canner.  Before purchasing one, make  sure  the pressure canner comes with an  instruction  book.  Also,  examine  the rubber gasket.  It should  be  flexible,  not brittle  or cracked.  Make sure replacement parts  are  available for  the  canner you choose.

   A canner that  does  not  operate properly will not be safe for home canning. The  canner  must reach  the right pressure and hold the pressure  constant  during the  processing time to assure a safe canned  product. 

   Before canning, put water in the canner and bring it up to pressure  to see if it is working properly.  Do this well in advance to  allow time  for  any needed repairs.

   Pressure canners come in many sizes, with some tall enough for two layers of pint  jars. The size chosen depends on the amount of low-acid foods to be  canned and  the size of the jars you plan to use.

    A  pressure  canner also  can double as a water bath canner.  When using  the  canner this  way, do not close the lid tightly.  Also, be sure to  leave the vent open.  The taller models are appropriate for  processing quart  jars, since they provide enough head space for the  needed one inch of water over the top of the jars, without water boiling over  the  top  of  the  pot. 

    A  pressure  canner  is  a  big investment,  but  an essential one  for  home-canned  vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. If properly maintained, the canner  can be a lifetime investment.

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