Food preservation season is now in full swing. I’m hearing about a lot of families making strawberry jam and freezing fresh berries, freezing rhubarb and getting ready for those peas and green beans to start coming on. Before preserving any food, consider the types of foods your family enjoys and the usefulness of the preserved product in your lifestyle.
The best time to get prepared for home food preservation is before you actually start to do it! Being in the middle of the process and realizing you are missing an ingredient or tool or bit of information is the worst! Plan ahead and enjoy a happy time preserving with these tips:
- Start with a clean kitchen. Wash your hands with soap and water that is as hot as you can comfortably stand, being sure to lather/scrub for at least 15 seconds. Sanitize all countertops, cutting boards and utensils. You can make a simple sanitizing solution at home using 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Use the freshest produce at its peak of ripeness. Handle food safely and preserve within 24 hours of harvest when possible. Store where air can circulate. Handle gently and discard damaged product.
- Use safe, research-based, tested recipes and resources. Home canning is NOT the time to experiment! OSU Extension has a variety of fact sheets available on OhioLine and classes open to the public. Another great resource is the National Center of Home Food Preservation.
- Make sure your equipment is safe and working correctly. Many OSU Extension offices will conduct safety inspections on all pressure canners and testing on dial gauge pressure canners to check for accuracy. You can look up contact information for all county OSU Extension offices.