Home Food Preservation

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor

Although home food preservation like canning, freezing, and drying is very popular in the summer with local vegetable gardens and farm market produce, home food preservation can happen throughout the year. September is a great time to think about home food preservation. What local foods do you and your family enjoy? Are there ways that you can preserve it to enjoy later in the year?

As with any food preparation, food safety is an important step for home food preservation. Basic recommendations include sanitizing countertops and spaces where food will be prepared and washing hands with soap and water. For home food preservation, it is recommended that you follow all the steps of updated, researched recipes. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a good resource. Nchfp.uga.edu

What foods should be preserved?  First, make sure it’s a food that you use and like. If no one in your household likes applesauce, then it doesn’t make sense to make it and preserve it even if there is a great price on apples at the store. There are many reasons why people choose to preserve their own food. Some of these examples are to use an abundance of food from the garden, or for health and wellness such as choosing low-sodium options, or they preserve food because it’s a tradition.

Although home food preservation can be a large undertaking, from collecting all the ingredients, supplies and equipment and time invested, the good news is that there are many ways to do home food preservation on a small scale. For example, cooking a larger amount of a favorite meal and preserving part of it in a freezer safe container for a meal later is a basic example of freezing food. A larger scale example of freezing food might be buying a large amount of meat at a good price and freezing it for the year. In this example, in addition to the cost of a larger freezer, it might make sense to invest in a generator as well for times when the electricity goes out. Some people also invest in additional equipment like a food vacuum sealer. This might be a good investment when storing large amounts of food in the freezer. If you are storing smaller amounts, look for freezer containers or zip-top bags that are designed for the freezer.

For canning, it could be as simple as using an updated, researched recipe for four pint sized canning jars in a boiling water bath. For example, the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s book, “So Easy to Preserve” Sixth Edition (2014) has a recipe for Chow-Chow that makes about 4-pint jars or a recipe for Tomatillo Green Salsa that makes about five-pint jars. On a large scale, some people preserve many kinds of food and use a pressure canner for safe canning of vegetables and meats. The water bath canner can be used safely for updated, research based acidic recipes like salsas, fruits, pickled vegetables, etc. For all low acid foods like vegetables and meats, the pressure canner is the only safe way to raise the temperature high enough for safe processing and storage.

If you have any questions about food safety, either email or call Patrice at the OSU Extension, Lucas County office at powers-barker.1@osu.edu or 419-574-0983. OSU Extension staff are often out in the county offering programming so if you get voice mail, please leave a message. The OSU Extension, Lucas County office also offers testing of pressure canner gauges for $5. Please use the contact information above to make an appointment to have your pressure canner gauge tested at our office at the Toledo Botanical Gardens.

Join us! OSU Extension, Lucas County is offering a free class, “Basic Home Food Preservation: Deciding What’s Best for You” on Monday September 25th, 2023, from 6:00pm – 7:30pm at the Walbridge Park Community Building, 2761 Broadway Street, Toledo, Ohio, 43609. This class is free but please register online at go.osu.edu/LucasCanning or call and leave a message for Patrice at 419-574-0983.

This introductory class for home food preservation will help you decide what works best for you and your kitchen. This class will cover basic food safety principles, review ways to safely preserve different types of foods and help you know where to access current information for successful home food preservation.