Prepare Now for Canning Garden Produce

women in the kitchen cleaning beans

Before canning season sneaks up on us, now would be an ideal time to check your equipment and supplies. If you have a dial gauge pressure canner, it should be checked annually for accuracy. Call your local Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office to schedule a time to have your dial gauge tested. The rubber gasket should be flexible and should not be cracked, brittle, or sticky. Make sure any pipes and vent ports on the canner lid are clean. Check jars for cracks or chips and replace as needed. New flat lids should be used every year. Rings can be reused but need to be checked for rust or corrosion.
Now is also a great time for 4-H members to plan ahead for a successful fair experience. The Extension publication “Foods for Iowa 4-H Fairs – Quick Reference Guide” contains guidelines to help select an acceptable product for exhibit, find an approved recipe source, and identify the appropriate preparation method. Home preserved food must be prepared using current, tested recipes from sources listed in this publication to qualify as a fair exhibit. Guidelines for baked goods and confections are also reviewed in this publication.
Preserving foods at home is not difficult, but it does require following research-based recipes. At Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, we use the National Center for Home Food Preservation recipes and the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning. See below for links to resources including the Quick Reference Guide. Contact your county office or local Nutrition and Wellness Specialist, Sara Sprouse, for more information about other educational opportunities including Food Preservation 101 and Preserve the Taste of Summer workshops.
Foods for Iowa 4-H Fairs – Quick Reference Guide -
Food Preservation Publications and Resources -
AnswerLine – contact and tell them you are calling in reference to a 4-H exhibit.
Relay Iowa (hearing impaired) 1-800-735-2942
Monday through Friday
9 a.m.-noon, 1-4 p.m.

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