Beaufort County extension offering home food preservation classes – Washington Daily News

When the weather starts to get warm and the gardens are planted, you can start thinking about learning how to can your own food. The price of everything is going up at the grocery store, so maybe now is the time to invest in some hot water bath canning equipment and save money by preserving food. There will be an initial investment, but once you have your supplies it will be worth it for years to come. Here are several things you will need to get started.
Canning supplies for jams, jellies, pickles and other high acid foods include: a hot water canner for high acid foods only, jars with lids and two-piece rings (designed for canning), wide-mouth funnel, instant-read thermometer, jar lifter, lid lifter and canning salt, it is free of iodine which clouds the liquid.
A bain-marie stockpot is a large stockpot with a lid and a rack. If you don’t have a rack, use a cake cooling rack or extra rings tied together to create a rack. A 21.5 quart granite double boiler canister with jar holders will cost around $25 to $75.
Buy Mason-style canning jars, new lids and rings, $10-$15 depending on the size you’ll need. After your first season, you can reuse your jars and rings, but you’ll need to buy new canning lids every year, they cost around $4 for a pack of 12.
The rest of the supplies are available as a canning kit (jar lifter, bubble remover, wide mouth funnel, lid lifter) and cost around $10-15. You will also need various bowls and pans depending on your project, paper towels, tea towels and a timer.
And don’t forget a permanent marker to label the lids with the contents and the date. Most of these supplies can be found at any hardware store, and local grocery stores carry canned goods.
Select a recipe based on research and read it completely and follow each step with measured ingredients and check jar size and processing time for quality and food safety. Only very acidic foods (jams, jellies, pickles) can be safely processed in a boiling water bath.
All low-acid foods (vegetables like green beans) should be pressure canned. This allows the temperature to rise above 212 degrees F. boiling temperature to 240 degrees F. inside the canner and destroys C. Botulinum. If you are canning low-acid foods or meats, you should use a pressure canner. Research-based recipe sources include the Penn State Let’s Preserve series, the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or So-Easy to Preserve.
Check the ingredient list. Do not forget the canning salt, sugar and other ingredients indicated in the recipe. Purchasing these items early will prepare you for harvest day.
Prepare the jars and lids by checking the jars for any nicks, cracks or uneven edges. Check covers for scratches and uneven or missing sealing compounds. Check that the rings fit the jars.
Wash jars, lids and rings in hot soapy water; rinse, drain.
Sterilize jars if they will be processed for less than 10 minutes by covering the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Jars treated for 10 minutes or more do not need to be sterilized. Place jars that will be filled with hot product in 180°F water to heat jars before filling. This can be in heating the water in the pot or in a separate pan. Another option for heating the jars is to wash them in the dishwasher and remove the jars from the dishwasher when you’re ready to use them.
Heater jar lids are optional.
Prepare the pot for boiling water by placing a rack in the bottom of the pot so that the jars are not at the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot at least halfway with water. Cover and heat to 140°F for raw packaged foods in jars; heat to 180°F for foods packaged in hot jars. Heat another pot of water to have some on hand to fill the pot later.
Prepare food for canning. This step depends on the food being canned and the recipe instructions.
Prepare only one canning load at a time, do not double the recipe. Sort items by size and quality, and remove any spoiled products. Store canned food in a dark, cool place in your home.

Five more things to remember:
1. Discard old recipes published before 1994. Old recipes may have inadequate processing times, inaccurate processing methods, or lack adequate acidity.
2. Center the pot on the burner. Select an appropriately sized burner. The pot should not extend more than 2 inches beyond the burner.
3. Clean your kettle after each use.
4. Electric pressure cookers, eg Instant Pots, are not approved for canning.
5. Do not use recipes from social media sites such as Google, TikTok, Pinterest, and Facebook unless they are from an .edu source. Following a tested recipe means you know your food is safe to eat.

If you would like to learn more, the Beaufort County Cooperative Extension will offer the following food storage instruction classes free of charge.
-Bath class with boiling water, pickles (jams and jellies): Thursday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
– Pressure canning: May 26, 9:30 a.m. to noon or 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
-Dehydration: Thursday June 2, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. or 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
– Freezing: Thursday June 9, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. or 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

Registration is open now. Please contact the Beaufort County Extension Center, 155 Airport Road, Washington, NC 27889 or call 252-946-0111 or email [email protected] and reserve your spot at least two days prior to offering a course so that the information is printed for you.