Questions?

If you have questions about preserving food at home, please visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website and search for answers to your questions.

To begin, look over the tool bar options on the left side of the home page.

“Search” allows you to search the website for a particular term of interest. “FAQs” contains answers to many common questions. “Links” connects you with contact information for your local Cooperative Extension offices and publications.

Specific recipes and processing recommendations are located under “How Do I?”. Click on the preservation method which you will be using and you will find general information about that method, followed by a list of tested recommendations from USDA, Cooperative Extension nationwide, and/or the University of Georgia.

If you still have unanswered questions, then you may submit a question about items on our website using the “Info Request” link, also located on the tool bar on the left side of the homepage. Please read through the information on this page; for example, we are not able to provide processing advice for your own recipes or for starting a food business. Due to the number of questions received, please do not expect an immediate answer. However, we do check the mailbox regularly and we will respond to your question as soon as possible.

Thank you.

11 thoughts on “Questions?

  1. Margaret Metts

    Because a lot of Americans are concerned about our way of life being drastically altered in the near future, & are ” Prepping ” , there are many u-tube videos showing how to can many things like butter, cheese, Meats on the bone, bacon, etc, even dry canning of wheat & grains in the oven, to kill any insect larvae or eggs, or spores, so the grain would last years. After all, it is
    possible, they say, we could be without power for extended times, & other forms of preservation would be unavailable, such as freezers & refrigerators. There are hundreds of thousands of families trying to get their prepping done before next fall (2015). And they have been canning all this year & before. They don’t know the scientific reasons “why” some things can’t be done safely. So, they know what they want to eat & put away, & if they don’t see the why’s in a canning book, & see videos someone else made, canning something the way they want to, they will get frustrated & try it. I even saw one guys video, where, because he loved smoked chicken, he smoked chicken legs & thighs & dry packed one of each in a pint jar, & pressure canned it. He opened a jar right after & ate them. Of course, they were just cooked, but I Iwonder what will happen later, when he opens another jar. Ball canning company doesn’t say “why” you shouldn’t can meat on the bone, they just say you shouldn’t. That isn’t enough, the people need to know what could happen to their family, if they eat some of these things they are canning. There may be a lot of sick or dead people soon. After all, many of them have never canned before, they just know they have to put food away for their family’s to have something to eat. Since you are the center for home food preservation, I think this should jump to the forefront of your research & responses. Put the scientific reasons for your responses & list the things not to do–then put it out on National & local news & on the u-tube sites they are using, so ” they ” are getting the right information out there. I’d like to be copied in on your response, also, since I get a lot of questions from family & friends, wondering why they shouldn’t can this or that… Thanks

    Reply
    1. nchfp Post author

      We agree with you that there is an abundance of very risky home canning advice being shared through the Internet and other media means, and it disturbs us.

      We do try to get widespread distribution of our recommendations through the media, Internet users and Cooperative Extension system nationwide. Unfortunately, it is not our role, nor do we have the means, to address all the misinformation that pops up or regularly monitor all the possible means people are using to share their experiences and advice.

      We also have not taken on the role of listing everything you cannot do. I cannot think of a way that would ever be complete, because people are constantly trying new approaches and recipes. Such a list could be dangerously misleading, because people might assume if it’s not on that list, they can do it. Instead of trying to list all of the things one cannot do safely, our role is put forth what we do recommend based on research and/or scientific factual knowledge, and encourage people to follow those directions as written. I sympathize and wish we had the time to list all the possible variations and problems with making them, but right now, we are not able to take that on except as specific instances come up related to our actual recommendations.

      We do offer a range of materials to help explain the science behind canning and preserving, but we acknowledge it is still the individual’s choice to read this information. The principles on which home canning safety is based are discussed in Guide 1 of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html . Our Burning Issues and Factsheets contain more specific explanations for certain recommendations such as acidifying tomatoes when canning and how process times are determined:
      http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets.html . Many explanations can also be found in our FAQ section, here:
      http://spock.fcs.uga.edu/ext/food/nchfp_faq/FAQ_home.php .

      We will also take into account your request for more detailed explanations as we develop new recommendations and make revisions to the NCHFP website. Thank you for your feedback.

      Reply
    1. nchfp Post author

      We do have anti-darkening with ascorbic acid under canning white potatoes
      http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_04/potato_white.html, so there is no harm in trying ascorbic acid with your canned turnips (as long as you are following a recommended procedure and process time like as in So Easy To Preserve), but we do not have any evidence how it works with turnips versus white potatoes.

      Here is a bit more information about Maintaining Color and Flavor in Canned Food:
      http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_01/ascorbic_acid.html#ascorbic .

      Reply
  2. Janet Ley

    I wonder why you cannot flour your meat before canning. My Great Grandmother, my Grandmother and my mother all would flour their meat then brown it before putting it into jars and covering it with water then process it for 90 minutes. I have also canned meat with this same process with no ill effects.

    Reply
    1. nchfp Post author

      We offer no recommendations for flouring meat before canning because we do not know of any proper testing done to determine a process time for canning that product at home. The process times we have are expected to be used with the preparation procedures described; the steps in preparation and filling jars have a relationship to what the process time should be. Especially with low-acid foods like meats, which could cause botulism if underprocessed, we do not risk guessing at a process time and guessing wrong. The fact that we offer no recommendations for a particular canned food product does not necessarily mean that it cannot be done safely, but it does mean that we cannot advise you how to can that product safely. Furthermore we recommend that you use only tested canning recommendations from reliable sources.

      A bit more explanation about determining process time: Flour generally acts as a thickener when combined with liquid (such as the juices excreted from the meat and the water covering the meat in the jars). The method you describe would be expected to produce a thicker, more viscous, liquid around the meat pieces and change the expected heating rate while the jars are in the canner. Increased thickness of a liquid, especially with a thickener containing starches, generally increases the process time required to adequately heat all areas inside the jar. But again, since we do not know of proper testing for canning meat with flour, we simply cannot offer a processing recommendation or endorse this method being used by others.

      Many recipes and methods have been passed down from family members, with varying degrees of safety. For example, some people learned to can using “open kettle canning”, in which jars are simply filled with hot food and then lids are applied. This is not actually a proper canning process, and the temperatures obtained in open kettle canning may not be high enough to destroy all spoilage and food poisoning organisms that may be in the food. Sometimes unsafe methods or recipes are used repeatedly without causing sickness or spoilage…this may be lucky, but it is not a reliable approach to home canning. It only takes one underprocessed batch containing Clostridium botulinum to produce devastating effects.

      Reply
  3. Regena Perrier

    Thank you very much for your timely response and much needed information. I hadn’t thought about a separate electric burner for canning. This is very helpful to me.

    Reply
  4. Regena Perrier

    I want to use a propane stove (outside) with a 23 qt Presto canner. Are there any particular stoves/ burners recommended for this purpose? iIhave a glass-top stove and can’t can on it. Any information will be helpfu. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. nchfp Post author

      First, check your canner manufacturer’s directions for more information about appropriate burners and contact that company to get your question answered as it pertains to your specific canner. In your case, you would be asking for the home economist at Presto.

      Though we cannot endorse a particular brand, there are a few basic guidelines for you to keep in mind when selecting a burner for canning purposes. When purchasing a separate, electric portable coil burner for canning, make sure you get one that is heavy-duty (high wattage), large diameter, and in a casing or housing that can withstand long periods of reflected high heat. In general, here are a few elements to look for:

      – The burner must be level, sturdy, and secure.
      – The diameter of the burner should be wide enough that the canner extends only 2 inches or less from the burner on any side. In other words, the canner should be no more than 4 inches wider in diameter than the element on which it is heated.
      – For electric burners, you want something that equates to the wattage of a typical household range large burner (around 1750W).
      – You want a housing that is also going to hold up to the high heat under a large pan for long heating periods and not damage counter tops with reflected heat.
      – According to at least one pressure canner manufacturer’s advice, do not use on an outdoor LP gas burner or gas range burner over 12,000 BTU’s. Your pressure canner can be damaged if the burner puts out too much heat.

      We ran a few tests using a separate burner for canning, but have not used one over and over for canning ourselves. We have been successful with one that is 1500W/120V. It was about 4 inches high, on short legs that allowed some air circulation underneath. It cost us about $155. A foodservice supply store could help you to identify one of this caliber.

      Reply

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