Safety of Food Preservation Recipes Printed in Cookbooks and Home Canning Books
A quick search on Amazon.com indicates that there are approximately 700 books on home canning alone. There are books by traditional ‘authors’ like Better Homes and Gardens, and other names new to the scene offering how-to guides for beginners, or books to meet a certain need, e.g. canning in small batches.The most important aspect of home food preservation is food safety. Canners would like the food to look and taste good, but more importantly, it needs to be safe for you and your family to eat. And therein lies the challenge. Proving safety is much more complicated than making food look pretty in a jar and having it taste good.
Proving safety requires an understanding of food microbiology and lots of laboratory work. It is important to understand the pH or level of acidity in each product, if that level of acidity changes over time. This information helps determine how a project should be processed and handled. Alongside pH, is an understanding of how heat penetrates into a jar and throughout a food product. This depends on the type of food, the jar size, and the type of processing medium (steam or boiling water). In order to ensure safety, each food is tested in each processing medium and the microbial lethality for each product is calculated. The math uses a lot of complicated formulas and relies on very tiny temperature measuring devices that are put on the jars.
Some reliable food preservation resources include publications distributed by county extension offices, Ball Blue Book, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and So Easy to Preserve distributed by Cooperative Extension The University of Georgia. They also have a great website which can be found at http://nchfp.uga.edu/