Food for Thought: Understanding Basic Canning Terms

June 3, 2022

Canning foods can be intimidating for many people, especially beginners. A good place to start when learning something new is the terms that go into the process. Listed below are many terms used in canning from UT Extension that may be helpful.

Acid Foods: Acid foods are foods containing natural acids, or foods that had vinegar added to them. Acid foods includes fruits, pickles, sauerkraut and relishes. These foods can be processed in warm water baths.

Low-Acid Foods: Foods that contain very little natural acid include most vegetables, meats, poultry, seafood, soups and mixed vegetable recipes that include tomatoes as one of the ingredients. All low-acid foods must be processed at 240° F (116° C) to assure the destruction of spoilage microorganisms.

Bacteria, Yeasts and Molds: These are forms of microorganism found in the environment that will grow in canned foods if not processed properly.

Blanching (scalding): Blanching is the dipping of vegetables in boiling water or steaming them over boiling water. After boiling dip in cool water to stop the cooking. Blanching destroys enzymes that cause undesirable changes in color, flavor and texture.

Botulism: Botulism is a type of food poisoning caused by eating foods that contain a bacteria Clostridium Botulinum in a sealed jar. These spores can grow in tightly sealed jars of any low-acid food. These foods need to be processed in a pressure canner. All home-canned, low-acid foods should be boiled 10 to 20 minutes before tasting to destroy any toxin that could be present.

Canning/Pickling Salt: Salt that does not contain iodine that is in regular table salt is used for canning.

Cold Pack/Raw Pack: Packing canning jars with raw food and covered with boiling brine, water, syrup or juice is cold or raw packing canning.

Head Space: Headspace is the space between the top of food in a container and the inside bottom of the lid.

Hot Pack: A method of filling containers by heating food in an open vessel in water, juice, syrup or steamed and packed hot into canning jars prior to processing.

Pectin: Pectin is the substance in fruits that forms a gel when it is in the right combination with acid and sugar. Sometimes pectin is used to add gel to fruit.

Pickling or acidifying: Pickling or acidifying is the process of adding enough acid (vinegar) to a low-acid food to add acid for safely heat-processed in boiling water.

Steam Pressure Canner: A large, heavy metal kettle that can close steam inside. The lid is fitted with a safety valve, steam vent or petcock and a pressure gauge. Steam produced inside the kettle is pressurized to obtain temperatures exceeding the boiling point of water.

Water Bath Canner: A large metal kettle with a tight-fitting cover and rack or basket to keep glass jars from resting on the bottom of the kettle or from bumping together. The kettle must be deep enough for the water to be well over the top of the jars and still have room to boil briskly. The water bath canner is recommended for foods such as fruit, fermented foods and food with vinegar added, jellies, jams and preserves.

Open Kettle: An old-style method of canning that is no longer considered to be safe. In this method, the food is cooked in an open kettle and then quickly put into jars and sealed without further processing.

If you are interested in learning more about canning, join us on June 21st and 22nd from 10:00-12:00 at Gordonsville First Baptist Church for our two-day canning college. Participants must pre-register with payment. The $25.00 fee covers supplies for take home jars and a wealth of knowledge. Call 615-725-2900 to register today!

Meatloaf in the Microwave

2 pounds ground beef or turkey

1/2 cup milk or tomato sauce

1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oatmeal

1 large egg (or 2 small eggs)

1 to 1 1/2 tsp salt

1/8 to 1/4 tsp pepper

Spray glass or ceramic casserole dish lightly with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients in a bowl & mix well. Shape to form 8 mini loaves and place in dish. Cover with a paper towel or wax paper. Microwave on High for 8 minutes, check loaves, and add up to 2 more minutes to cook & set. (Note: If microwave doesn’t rotate, manually rotate dish 1/4 turn every 3 minutes.) Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

If desired, top with your favorite meatloaf sauce. Submitted by Erin Parchman, Grant FCE Club.