Here's something that is fun to browse through, and you will get a bit of canning history education for your efforts.
This digital exhibit about canning comes from the United States Department of Agricultural Library. It is entitled "How did we can? The evolution of home canning practices." What an interesting and informative resource.
The exhibits are many and consist of historical and vintage pictures, articles and pamphlets and articles. These can be viewed in full on-line. Exhibits on canning history, canning practice, canning declines and resurgences, botulism, important changes to the USDA Guidelines are to be found.
How about Canning through the World Wars?
Great looks at historical information about the evolution of canning equipment (jars, cans, water bath and pressure canners). Take a look at the Tin Can page to see how cans were soldered together by hand when first used.
There is a lot of history here and I heartily recommend that you visit the exhibit and check it out extensively.
Wondering about the illustration above? Check out the link--just click it. It is a place to go to find out about all sorts of canning: From Kale to Cabbage, Sauerkraut and Seaweed, Chicken and Moose. . . Have you ever wondered about how to can that walrus you just got?--I am not kidding, look it up.
Type in something and see if you can find a recipe/directions for canning it on this site. It all comes up in .pdf format, pretty cool. The search engine is specific to their system, and it seems to work nicely!
If nothing else, you will become familiar with a site with directions for a lot of game and other meats and foods. They come up in individual files for your perusal--and education.
And, yeah, there is an article about taking care of those cockroaches in Alaska. Hey, they live everywhere we do!
The following is some very good information about dating on food that confuses many. The article linked to below has even more information about food storage and dating, both commercial and home, canned or not. VERY good!
"Deciphering Packaged Food Dates
"Storing Food for Safety and Quality, University of Idaho, PNW 612
"For most foods, product dating is not required by law. An exception is infant formula and some baby foods for which open dating is required. Open dates are calendar dates that are clearly understood by consumers, as opposed to coded dates that are sometimes used by food manufacturers for their own tracking. Infant and baby foods are dated for nutrient retention as well as quality, since these foods often provide the sole source of nutrition. Do not buy or use infant formula or baby food after its “use by” date.
"Many food manufacturers choose to label packaged foods with some type of date. However, there is no universal system for expressing the date. Commonly used date terminology is explained below. These dates are not related to product safety.
"Date of pack or manufacture. Refers to when the food was packed or processed for sale. These are not “use by” dates. Instead, they are printed on canned or boxed goods that are shelf-stable items to identify and locate products if there is a recall.
"Freshness, pull, or “sell by” date. Tells the store how long to display the product for sale. The date allows for home storage and use within a reasonable period of time, as predicted by the manufacturer. The product maybe safely consumed after the sell-by date. Often used on breads, baked goods, and dairy products.
“Use before” or “Best if used by” date. Gives the recommended shelf life for best flavor or quality. The food can be safely used past this date. Often used with frozen foods, fried snack foods such as chips and crackers, cereals, canned foods, pasta and rice.
Expiration date. The last day the product should be used for best quality. Yeast and baking powder have expiration dates.
"Home dating. It is a good practice to mark the date on purchased foods that do not have open dates and that you plan to store for an extended time. Likewise, marking the date on stored home-prepared foods or leftovers is the best way to keep track of stored food. Keep a marker or pen and small self-stick labels handy, and date these foods when you put them into storage." (--this is a good idea to do with any food put in your fridge or freezer--L. Watts)
A little history for you. . . I was looking at stuff on the net and I looked up the word "canning" and came up with the Wikipedia article below.
Make sure you at least read the FIRST paragraph. It mentioned some canned food over 100 years old; it was still edible and not poisonous, though not the most nutritious or tasty.
And here are a couple more on-line articles for some more history:
Finally, here is a .pdf article on recommended methods of Canning and some info on some methods to avoid: