Extension Connect: Consumers need to stir clear of these canning methods

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 19, 2008

By ANGELA THREADAWAY / Guest Columnist

Consumers need to be wary of certain canning methods advertised as faster and safer than traditional methods — studies show that may not be the case.

-Steam canners: the steam canner was designed as a means to process foods using steam without the aid of pressure.

The manufacturer claims this process uses less water, saves time and energy and recommends identical processing times as those required for boiling-water bath treatments.

But studies conclude that atmospheric steam canners result in significantly lower product temperatures at the beginning and end of the scheduled process when compared to water-bath canning.

The use of steam canners as instructed by the manufacturer would result in under processing and considerable economic spoilage.

-Micro-Dome Food Preserver: This preserver was recalled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in cooperation with Micro-Dome of San Ramon, CA.

The CPSC warns consumers of certain safety hazards associated with the use of the “Micro-Dome Food Preserver” manufactured by Micro-Dome and sold to consumers after August 1987. T

he CPSC has also urged consumers to destroy all food that has been preserved using the preserver.

-Solar canning: The heat generated from captured sunlight is not a reliable method to process acid foods and should never be used to can low-acid foods.

-Oven canning: Oven-canning is extremely hazardous. The oven canning method involves placing jars in an oven and heating. In oven canning, product temperatures never exceed the boiling point because the jars are not covered.

It is, therefore, not safe to use for low-acid products (e.g. meats, most vegetables) which require temperatures higher than 212 degrees.

Because this process fails to destroy the spores of Clostridium botulinum, it can cause the food to become toxic during storage.

Also, canning jars are not designed for intense dry heat and may explode resulting in serious cuts or burns.

-Open Kettle Canning: The open-kettle method involves placing hot food in jars and sealing with no further heat treatment. This method is not recommended because the amount of heat applied may not be sufficient to destroy bacteria and the product may spoil quickly or cause illness when consumed.

-Microwave Processing: Microwaved food reaches 212 degrees but heating is not uniform. There is also a danger of explosion of the jars within the microwave oven or as food is being removed from the oven.

-Dishwashing Processing: Processing canned foods in a dishwater cycle is dangerous. The temperature of the water during the cleaning and rinsing cycle is far below that required to kill harmful micro-organisms. Thus the product will be under-processed and unsafe to eat.

Be sure to contact your local regional extension for the most up to date information on regarding canning fruits and vegetables.

Also, if you would like to have your pressure canner gauge checked — it should be every year — please call Angela Treadaway to make an appointment