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Preserving the Harvest by Johanna Hicks

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With the recent warmer temperatures, many people are turning their thoughts to gardening.  An abundance of home grown fruits and vegetables often triggers the desire to can foods at home.   While this can be a fun and rewarding way to keep foods long after the season ends, care must be taken to assure that foods canned at home are safe to eat.

Following research-based methods and using tested recipes are things to consider when canning foods at home.  Not all recipes for home canning have been tested for safety.  Recipes from old cookbooks, outdated Extension publications and non-research-based internet sources should not be used.

Using the correct equipment when canning also is important.  Some foods can be preserved using a water bath canner while others must be processed in a pressure canner.  If the right canning method is not used, then the finished product could make people very sick.  Also, make sure that the equipment you have is in good working order.  Experts advise that dial gauges on pressure canners be tested annually to make sure they are accurate.

There are many other aspects to canning that need to be considered, including jar size, headspace, and recommended processing (canning) times.  All of these can influence the safety of the final product.  The last thing that we want to do is tell someone that the food they have just spent hours canning has to be thrown away.  However if a tested recipe was not used, if unsealed jars were not identified within 24 hours after canning, or if jars were not processed properly (i.e. using a water bath canner instead of a pressure canner), we may have no other choice.  Nobody likes to throw food away but nobody wants to get sick (or worse) from eating unsafe food.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has excellent publications on canning fruits, vegetables, tomatoes & tomato products, jams and jellies (both with and without sugar), salsas, and dehydrating fruits, vegetables, and herbs.  We can prepare an entire packet of information for you if you’ll call us!  We also have access to various recipes from apples to zucchini!

I also want to remind you about the upcoming “Basic Home Vegetable Gardening Training”, scheduled for Tuesday, March 31, 6:30 p.m., at the Professional Ag Workers’ Building, 957 Connally Street, in Sulphur Springs (blue metal building in Buford Park).  Topics will cover soil preparation, site selection, what and when the garden will grow, gardening problems, and solutions.  The cost for the training is $10, payable at the door.  Please call our office at 903-885-3443 to add your name to the list.  I will have a few canning publications available to participants.


Last Call for Diabetes Education Series

If you have been procrastinating about signing up for the Spring, 2015 “Do Well, Be Well with Diabetes” series, you have one last chance!  The series is scheduled to begin Tuesday, March 24, and will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, ending April 7 (five classes).  This is an excellent series to help you understand how to have better control of diabetes and feel better.

The series will take place at the Hopkins County Office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 1200-B W. Houston, Sulphur Springs.  Cost is $25, payable at the door, which covers materials, refreshments, door prizes, recipes, and samples.  Please call Monday, March 23, if you have not already signed up, so adequate preparations can be made – 903-885-3443.


Closing Thought

Attitude is wanting to learn new things, see new things, and do new things – unknown



Johanna Hicks

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Family & Consumer Sciences

1200-B W. Houston

P.O.Box 518

Sulphur springs, TX 75483

903-885-3443 – phone

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