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Plan now to can that garden bounty later

RonBailey/Getty Canned peaches
CANNING SAFELY: Canning rose in popularity during the 2020 pandemic, with folks staying home and returning to hobbies like gardening. Kansas State University Research and Extension advises canners to prepare now for the summer canning season.
A little preparation now can help gardeners safely preserve their bounty this summer.

The 2020 pandemic led to a massive resurgence in gardening and canning popularity among those staying at home. Some explored it as a new hobby, while others used their gardens to supplement their food supplies. And that led to people from all walks of life rediscovering the joys of canning.

5 steps to preserving safely graphic
5 STEPS: K-State Research and Extension (KSURE) reminds you there are five steps to preserving food fresh, and preserving it safely. (Courtesy of KSURE)

According to research conducted by Axiom Marketing, 86% of homeowners plan to continue gardening this summer, with 47% of those surveyed saying they will plant more and expand their gardens this season. That could lead to food preservation supplies being in high demand again.

“Now is the time to check canning equipment, and make repairs needed or replace worn items,” says Karen Blakeslee, coordinator of Kansas State University’s Rapid Response Center for food science. “Examine jars and take damaged ones out of your canning supply. Canning lids were in short supply last year, so be patient as those supplies get replenished.”

Practice makes perfect

Local K-State Research and Extension offices should be able to check several brands of dial-gauge pressure canners, including Presto, National, Maid of Honor and Magic Seal, to make sure they’re working properly. And Blakeslee says this service is free.

“If you are new to canning, practice using your equipment now before you want to can food,” she says. “Learn how the canners work with your stovetop. Use water-filled jars as substitutes to process through the canners. Also, be aware that some canners should not be used on flat glass stovetops. Always follow the canner and stove manufacturer’s directions.”

Blakeslee says canners should use recipes that have been validated by research to ensure a safely canned food.

“A majority of food preservation failures occur due to user errors,” she says. That includes forgetting to adjust processing for elevation.

The Rapid Response Center has several recipes, how-to videos and publications on food preservation and canning online.

“Take the time to get educated before you start,” Blakeslee says. “This will help guide you to making safe food and reducing waste.”

Kansas State Research and Extension contributed to this article.

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