Easy Sustainability Answers

Is canning safe? How do I do it? We’ve got a step-by-step slideshow!

Adriene Hill Sep 2, 2010

Maybe it’s the bounty at our local farmers’ markets, maybe it’s the desire for a comfort-hobby. Whatever the reason, we and our friends over at NPR’s Morning Edition, have been thinking a lot about canning.

Producer Angela Kim and I decided to find out how to can, if it’s safe, and whether or not putting food up will save money.

Here’s our step-by-step canning tutorial for making your own tomato sauce (with significant help from food-blogger Kevin West.

Click on the photo for the slideshow and recipe.

As far as the cost, it completely depends. If you grow your own food, or are getting it from your co-workers, you only have the costs of canning equipment (which can be used over and over). If you’re buying heriloom, organic tomatoes at the farmers market, it won’t be cheap.

And, what about botulism? (Clostridium botulinum is tasteless, deadly bacteria.) No need to worry, as long as you abide by USDA guidelines (PDF). You have to follow directions (including adding acid when necessary) and keep everything clean. This isn’t the time to take shortcuts or ignore warnings. Toughness has no place in jam making. You’ll also want to make sure you process your jars according the directions. And, when it comes time to eat your canned food, be sure that the lid is still properly sealed.

Photo credit: Angela Kim.

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