Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Home Canning Safe?

Considering the state of the current economy, I can see families struggle with decisions about how to provide for their family's basic needs in a very economical way. Some have seen canning as a way to gap this issue and provide nutritional, homegrown food for their loved ones.

But, is canning safe?

Today, I'm hosting Melissa K. Norris as she discusses the canning issue. To celebrate the release of her novel, Pioneering Today,  we're giving away one signed copy to one person who posts a comment on this post by Saturday, Feb 2nd AND leaves their e-mail address in their comment. Must live in the USA to qualify.  Winner announced here Sunday, Feb 3rd.

Welcome, Melissa!

Canning your food at home can be a very satisfying, healthy, and economical way to provide food for your family. If you grow your own food, it is picked at the peak of freshness and canned immediately. We plant a large organic vegetable garden and only use heirloom seeds. Heirloom or heritage seeds are seeds left as God made them, untouched by the hand of science.

The key to home canning is knowing which foods are safe to water bath can and which ones need to be canned in a pressure canner. Water bath means you process your sealed jars of food by immersing them in boiling water for a set amount of time. Pressure canning is processing your sealed jars of food in a special pressure canner that allows you to set the pounds of pressure created by steam inside the sealed canner.

All acidic food can be safely canned via a water bath. All non-acidic foods, vegetables, meats, can only be safely canned in a pressure canner. Pressure canners create enough heat for the food to reach 240 degrees. A water bath, no matter how many hours you process, can’t reach this high.

The heat is important because Clostridium botulinum, commonly called botulism is a bacteria that can be deadly. The pressure cooker reaches high enough heat to kill it. Botulism cannot be smelled or detected by the eye.  We still boil our home canned green beans for three minutes before eating. My family has been growing our strain of Tarheel green beans for over a hundred years and I’ve never had store canned green beans at home. We have never gotten sick.

Home canning is safe and quite enjoyable. Our entire family helps and my children have helped plant, weed, pick, snap, and can our beans since they could walk. For a more thorough tutorial on home canning visit my Beginners Guide-Canning 101 Water Bath vs. Pressure Canning.


Melissa K. Norris is a novelist, newspaper columnist, and author of Pioneering Today-Faithand Home the Old Fashioned Way. Her stories inspire your faith and pioneer roots. She found her own little house in the big woods, where she lives with her husband and two children in the Cascade Mountains. She writes a monthly column, Pioneering Today, for the local newspaper that bridges her love of the past with its usefulness in modern life. Her books and articles are inspired by her family’s small herd of beef cattle, her amateur barrel racing days, and her forays into quilting and canning—without always reading the directions first.


  1. Thanks, Melissa (and Jordyn!) for some great information. I grew up with a mom and grandmother who spent a lot of hours canning. My grandmother had a pantry filled with rows and rows of those brightly colored jars of yummy foods. They used both methods, and I've never tasted anything bought in a store that tasted as fresh. I wish you much success with your book!

    1. Romona, I agree, home canned food tastes much fresher and has way more flavor than store canned. Thanks for entering and your good wishes.

  2. a great mom and grandmother did a lot of canning, too. thanks for the chance to read you book, Melissa. Maybe I will carry on the tradition :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    1. Karen, I hope you do carry on the tradition! It's amazing how recipes carry memories.

  3. What a cool way of combining Melissa's pioneering skills and a medical twist. Love it! I have Melissa's book and adore it. And I'm so thankful to her for helping me be brave enough to try canning for the first time this fall. It was so fun!

    Congrats, Jordyn on both of your books!!

  4. Joanne, thanks for your kind words. Pioneering and two of my favorite authors, a girl can't ask for more than that. :)

  5. Thanks for all the great comments and thanks so much Melissa for visiting Redwood's!