Saving Summer: A few more canning queries

Beginner's Home Canning Kit
Beginner’s Home Canning Kit

As the summer days draw to a close, I’m still receiving many food preservation questions.  With the frequent rains that we’ve had in Northeast Ohio the gardens are still producing quality products.  I thought you might find some of the following questions helpful to you.  The resource information is from National Presto Industries and Ball Blue Book , Guide to Preserving.

  • I have a pressure canner.  Can I use it as a boiling water canner instead of buying one?  Yes, as long as you can have 1-2 inches of water over the top of your jars and room for it to boil you can use it.  Presto recommends removing the overpressure plug and the pressure regulator so that steam can escape when you place the lid on.
  • *What causes pickles not to be crisp?  There could be several reasons, see if any of these might help:
    • Cucumbers deteriorate quickly, for best results process within 24 hours of picking
    • Use a cucumber variety that is recommended for pickling
    • Use a cucumber that is prime quality, not overripe and be sure to remove the blossom end.
  • How do I process yellow tomatoes? Red, yellow and green tomatoes are all processed according to the same directions.  All of them will need to have added acid (lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid) before processing.  Follow directions with your approved recipe
  • Ball Pickling and Preserving Salt
    Ball Pickling and Preserving Salt

    Can I use table salt instead of pickling or canning salt? Yes you can, but remember that it includes anti-caking ingredients which may turn your liquid cloudy.  Canning salt is more pure.  Salt is an optional ingredient for flavor, you may decrease the amount if desired in most recipes.

  • Why do my jars lose liquid during processing? There are several reasons, here’s a list for your review from Presto:
    • Jars were packed too solidly with food or were overfilled—in other words, there was not enough headspace to allow foods to expand during processing
    • Canner may not have been exhausted sufficiently
    • Pressure regulator on the weighted-gauge canner rocked vigorously during processing, maintain a slow, steady rocking motion
    • An unsteady heat source or steam leakage caused a fluctuation of pressure during processing
    • Uneven pressure from rapid temperature changes—in other words let the canner drop in pressure naturally, don’t hasten it or remove the pressure regulator before it has reached zero pressure.
Granny-Ware Canner
Granny-Ware Canner

If all the canning procedures have been followed and the lids have sealed, the food is safe to store and eat.  Remember the food above the liquid may discolor during storage, so plan to use these jars first.

Home food preservation is a timeless tradition to share with your family and friends.  Make sure you are following  approved, tested recipes and not making changes or substitutions on your own.  The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a wonderful web site for instructions and a great library of recipes.  OHIOLINE is Ohio State University’s library of fact sheets (select food, then food preservation) for a complete list of food preservation.  If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me at

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12 years ago

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