Done right, canning can provide delicious and nutritious food for the family. Done wrong, it could cause serious medical problems.
â€œI want to be sure everyone is doing it safely,â€ said Melinda Houser with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
To ensure safety, Houser has presented a series of canning workshops, the most recent of which took place in Denver at the Florence B. Shanklin Library Monday night.
Itâ€™s clear people in Lincoln County love canning â€“ the Extension receives hundreds of calls every summer with questions about it.
Tammy Hubbard, who attended the Denver workshop, hoped to learn a little more about a hobby she already enjoys.
â€œI just wanted to get some more ideas,â€ she said.
Her family has had a garden for years, and the abundance of vegetables made canning look like a good option.
â€œYou know what youâ€™re eating,â€ she says of her canned goods. â€œYouâ€™re not getting all those preservatives.â€
Frances Patterson, who grew up on a farm in Cherryville in the â€™60s, attended the Denver workshop with the hope of revisiting her past.
â€œWe lived on a farm, and my mother had 12 kids and we had to do something,â€ she said. â€œBasically, we didnâ€™t know what going to town was. We got everything straight from the garden.â€
Now retired, sheâ€™d like to learn about canning for herself.
â€œIâ€™ve forgotten a lot,â€ she said. â€œThey were so good back in the day.â€
Houser told participants that many things have changed over the years and following old family recipes can be dangerous.
â€œPlease use reputable research-based recipes,â€ Houser said.
She provided recipes for fruits and vegetables, jams and pickles, all of which had been scientifically tested.
If people do not follow the directions correctly, the end result could be botulism, a deadly illness resulting from poison.
â€œAnd remember, botulism poisoning â€“ you donâ€™t see it, you donâ€™t smell it, you donâ€™t know itâ€™s there,â€ Houser said.
She told participants to be careful to properly seal their goods, to keep them in the pressure cooker long enough and, most importantly, make sure enough vinegar or lemon juice is in the preserved produce.
If people follow the instructions and â€œpick at the peak of goodness,â€ theyâ€™ll end up with delicious canned goods.
Houser is available to answer questions about canning at (704) 736-8461. Her office is located in the James W. Warren Citizens Center.
She is also available to test gages on pressure cookers for accuracy, something she says people who can should do every year.
Want to go? The next Food Preservation Workshop will take place June 27 at the James W. Warren Citizens Center in Lincolnton. Topics to be discussed include canning both high and low acid foods, freezing fruits and vegetables and making jams and jellies, dos and donâ€™ts in making pickles and drying foods. Class registration fee is $5, which includes handout information and product samples. Call Houser at (704) 736-8461 for more information to register.
by Sarah Grano