In the Know
In the Know links readers with UMaine faculty, students and staff with particular expertise. University of Maine Extension Educator Kathy Savoie answered your food preservation questions.
On food preservation
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Educator Kathy Savoie has been providing educational programming related to nutrition, food safety and food preservation since 1996. Prior to joining Extension as an associate professor, Savoie served for three years as the state nutrition coordinator of Maine’s Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) Program. This summer, she offered a series of free classes on food preservation at the Whole Foods Market store in Portland, Maine. Whole Foods Market partnered with UMaine Extension to promote canning and preserving to its patrons in Maine and nationwide.
How do you recommend first-time canners get started? What’s most important for us to know?
Use current and reliable recipes to make sure you are following proper techniques and procedures to ensure food safety. Consider taking a workshop through your local Cooperative Extension office. Check out our upcoming events in Maine here.
I have a pressure cooker hat my mother and grandmother used. Can I still use them?
Possibly. Your local UMaine Cooperative Extension office can test your dial gauge pressure canner for accuracy. Follow this link to locate a dial gauge testing service near you.
Can I reuse my jars and lids from last year?
As long as jars are clean as well as crack and nick free, they can be reused. Rust-free screwbands also are reusable. The dome lids can only be used once.
My strawberry jam never set. Is it safe to eat it, and what went wrong?
As long as a vacuum seal formed as a result of proper processing, unset jam is safe to use and is a great sauce for desserts or ice cream. Unset jam can be caused by either under cooking or over cooking.
Which foods are best preserved using a boiling water bath?
Acidic foods such as fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes are safe to process in a boiling water bath. A boiling water bath is simply a pot with a rack in it that is deep enough to allow for 1 – 2 inches of water over the tops of the jars. Make sure to follow recipes and procedures from a current and reliable source, such as those listed below.
Where do you recommend I go to read up on the latest tips for canning?
University of Maine Extension publishes the “Let’s Preserve” series of 13 publications on home canning. I also recommend the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension’s So Easy to Preserve and the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. In addition,
the National Center for Home Food Preservation website includes the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning, as well as recipes.
What’s the best way to store fresh squash, apples and potatoes so they last as far into the winter months as possible?
Potatoes and apples prefer it moist and 36°F–50°F, but don’t store them together, since apples give off ethylene that can cause potatoes to sprout. Squash and pumpkins like it warm and dry at 50°F–60°F. An unheated bedroom suits squash and pumpkins.