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THE EXTENSION CORNER — Preserve safely: use a pressure canner

Summer is the time to harvest lots of fresh and delicious fruits and vegetables. Therefore, many individuals are interested in preserving their harvest in order to enjoy produce during other seasons and, of course, so it doesn’t go to waste.

Hayley Cowell

A common question received at the Cooperative Extension office this time of year is… “My pressure canner isn’t working, can I just boil my green beans longer?”
The answer to this is NO WAY! The pathogen that you worry about when canning green beans, or other low-acid foods (ex. vegetables and proteins), is clostridium botulinum.
C. Bot causes botulism, which has severe symptoms and can even cause death. Unfortunately, the only way to destroy this bug completely is by reaching the high temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit, which can only be achieved under pressure (i.e. in a pressure canner).
In addition, be aware that there are two types of pressure canners available including a weighted gauge and a dial gauge.
Both are effective, but using them is slightly different. In general is it important to always read the manufacturer’s instructions when using your pressure canner.
If you purchase a dial gauge pressure canner for preservation, make sure to have it tested annually. This is a service offered by Cooperative Extension free of charge.
Lastly, some great resources to ensure you are following a safe recipe when canning at home include: the National Center for Home Food Preservation website, “So Easy to Preserve,” and the Ball Blue Book Guide for Preserving.
It is always important to follow a research-based recipe since there are so many sources that have not been tested.
Remember preservation is about safety, so use reliable resources and you will be a professional canner in no time.

Hayley Cowell is an extension agent with the Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension.