Tips to preserve the season's garden harvest
The year of 2020 has found many people planting a larger garden or planting a garden when they hadn’t before. Here are some resources for when all that hard work pays off - the harvest.
There are many ways to preserve the garden and orchard bounty, such as freezing, canning, drying, pickling and jams/jellies. Here are some tips to make sure you do it properly.
University of Minnesota Extension Educator Suzanne Driessen said in a news release: "Food preservation guidelines have changed through the years, so don’t use recipes handed down from family members or friends because you don’t know if those recipes were tested scientifically.”
Look for food preservation recipes from U of M Extension at https://extension.umn.edu/food-safety/preserving-and-preparing or the National Center for Home Food Preservation website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Follow the recipes directly and refrain from altering food preservation recipes, as that is not safe. Canning is a science, and if you alter the recipe or skip some steps, you could put yourself, your family and your guests at risk for botulism, an especially deadly form of food poisoning.
Even if you use a salsa recipe from Extension, but you change it, you could have hazardous consequences. Adding extra onions, bell peppers or other ingredients not in the recipe can dilute the acidity. Adding flour or cornstarch as a thickener can slow the rate of heating during processing. Freezing is the best way to preserve your own salsa creations or other foods from recipes that haven’t been research-tested.
If the canning recipe requires a pressure canner, make sure to test the pressure gauge every year. If you don’t test your gauge, it could provide inaccurate readings and you won’t know if your food is being canned properly. For more information on testing, check out the Extension page https://z.umn.edu/cannertesting. You can also check with your local county Extension office, http://local.extension.umn.edu/local, to see if testing is done locally.
U of M Extension website offers videos guides for preserving foods at https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/food-preservation-videos.