Safe Canning Process for Veg

The Basics of Not Killing Anyone

One of the main things we hear from people when we are teaching about food preservation, is that they are afraid of killing people. We’ve all heard the stories - a jar of grandpa’s green beans wiping out an entire family with botulism.

The good news is that its pretty easy not to kill people when canning things, as long as you follow a few simple rules. Botulism that can kill is actually an effect of certain types of canning processes. The bacteria that causes it - C. botulinum - is a bacteria that is commonly found in the soil. When it is heated, it produces a spore that thrives in non-acidic, anaerobic (no oxygen) environments, like a can of veg. In order to destroy the spore, you need to bring the temperature of the canned goods up to at least 240f/116c, which is only achievable with a pressure canner. These are not readily available for the home canner here in the UK, and won’t be covered in this course.

However, don’t fear you can still safely preserve vegetables in vinegar, lacto-ferment them, or freeze them (which we will cover in the next lesson). All of which are very safe and easy and honestly, its simply not worth faffing with pressure canning in my personal opinion.

Canning Vegetables Safely

Ok, so how then do we can vegetables safely?

  • Follow an approved recipe. Anything in a book or on a site like Ball Home Canning will be approved by people who know the ins and outs of safe canning.

  • Ensure your recipe contains acid. Pathogenic bacteria hate acidic environments, so the addition of vinegar, lemon, and other acids create a hostile solution for them to grow in

  • Ensure things are as sterile as possible. Sterilise those jars before hand, no matter if you are lacto-fermenting or canning. If you are not fermenting your food, you will want to hot water bath can your veg as well. The guide here is to bring the jars to a boil in a pot of water that covers them by at least 2cm/1in and boil for 10 minutes.

Follow these tips and you will be ok. I know, often grandpa’s recipes deviate from this, and you may well be safe, but research has shown that our traditional methods aren’t the safest.

Kat GoldinComment