Preserving the harvest can give you the fresh taste of summer in the middle of a Maine snowstorm, but it’s important to do it safely. These safety tips come from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service and the National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Select fresh food and wash it well.

Wash jars very well just before filling them.

Kathleen Savoie, at the Cooperative Extension, recommends using recipes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Complete Guide to Home Canning (downloadable from the NCHFP website, nchfp.uga.edu. Recipes are also available on the Ball website, freshpreserving.com.

Use regular and wide-mouth Mason-type threaded glass jars with two-piece, self-sealing lids. Do not use wire bails and glass caps or one-piece zinc, porcelain-lined caps to can.

Mason jars and screw bands may be reused many times if they are not nicked or cracked. Use new dome lids (flats) each time.

Pressure canning is the only method recommended for low-acid foods like meat, poultry, seafood and most vegetables.

To obtain the proper pH when pickling and processing vegetables in a boiling water bath, use vinegar that is labeled 5 percent acidic.

Make sure process times and pressures match the size of the jar, style of pack, and kind of food being canned.

After processing, check that nothing has leaked from the jar and be sure the jar lid is concave, which tells you the jar has sealed.

When you open the jar to eat its contents, no liquid should spurt out and there should be no unnatural or “off” odors. In either of these cases, do not eat the contents, instead throw the jar out.


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