Food preservation is a great way to preserve fresh produce for later use. The main concern when preserving food is to do it properly to prevent foodborne illness. Summer has arrived and gardens are ready for harvest. You can find seasonal produce flooding the local grocery stores and farmers’ markets. If you are in need of preserving your harvest, K-State Research and Extension can hook you up with the best, most reliable and up to date resources. Karen Blakeslee, K-State’s Rapid Response Center coordinator, has developed simple and complete guides to canning all your food safely. Also, Colorado State University has developed a new food preservation app to help make canning a bit easier. The app is called “Preserve Smart” and is currently available for Apple iOS devices only. But it can be used on any computer. 

This program is unique in that it starts by asking you to enter your elevation. The program will remember that elevation throughout the system. So it will highlight the processing instructions for your location in each recipe. The program has freezing and dehydrating instructions too. There are recipes for canning fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, pickles and fermentation.

The website address for this program is www.apps.chhs.colostate.edu/preservesmart

Search the Apple app store for Preserve Smart to download it to your mobile Apple device.

Whether you water bath can, steam can, pressure can, freeze or dry your fresh produce and foods, there are proper precautions for each process. Water bath canning and steam canning are used for higher acid foods. This includes fruits, sweet spreads, pickled products, tomatoes, salsa and some other tomato products. Acidity in these foods may be natural, as in fruits, or added, like when pickling foods. Lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar are the three substance options when lowering a food pH to a more acidic level. The temperature reached when water bath canning is effective for killing yeast and any mold organisms. If the temperature ever drops too low, crank it up to the proper temp and start again. No use in risking bacterial growth in your homegrown foods. 

On the contrary, foods with a higher pH ought to be processed in a pressure canner. These foods include vegetables, vegetable mixtures, red meats, wild game meats, poultry, seafood and fish. Pressure canners may be used to can some high acid or acidified foods like tomatoes, apples, berries, cherries, purees, citrus fruits, peaches, pears, plums and rhubarb. It is extremely important to process foods accurately so that bacteria do not form and cause food poisoning. A pressure canner’s dial gauge ought to be checked for accuracy. If the gauge reads high or low by more than 2 pounds at 5, 10, or 15 pounds of pressure, replace it. 

Canners are an investment, so take care of this piece of equipment. Clean and store properly. Prior to storing, clean canner efficiently and clean the vent of your pressure canner. Simply draw a clean string or narrow strip of cloth through the opening to rid any debris from hole. When storing your canners, keep in a dry location with clean crumpled paper towels inside. This will help in absorbing any moisture or odors. Place the lid upside down on the canner for ventilation and never seal the lid when storing. 

Food preservation is a fun and efficient method to eat your garden harvest throughout the year, be sure to do it safely. For a complete guide of Kansas State’s “Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe,” written by Karen Blakeslee, visit your local K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 613 Holiday Plaza in Lansing. For other questions on this topic and others, contact Chelsi Myer, family and consumer sciences agent at 913-364-5700 or chelsim@ksu.edu