Canning is a method of food preservation where foods are processed and stored in an airtight container.
Is canning foods safe?
Food made and processed with a tested recipe should be safe if you follow the directions and use the right equipment.
The foods we preserve come in 2 types: high-acid foods (pH at or below 4.6) and low-acid foods (pH above 4.6). Each type requires a different processing technique to maintain safety. At pH above 4.6—low acid foods—botulism can form.
Home canning uses glass jars. Current recommendations by USDA are to only use jars with a 2-piece lid secured with a ring during processing. (See image below.)
Most fruits, sweet spreads, pickles and many salsas are high-acid foods. They have a pH at or below 4.6. High-acid foods can be preserved by processing in a water-bath or steam canner. Acid inhibits the growth of Botulinum bacteria, and the processing kills other harmful organisms present.
Don’t alter recipes or you risk raising the pH and exposing yourself and loved ones to botulism. If you have a special recipe that just doesn’t match up with a tested recipe, try freezing it instead.
Most vegetables, all meats, soups, and some fruits are not acidic enough to retard the growth of Botulinum and therefore must be processed in a pressure canner. Pressure canners are not hard to use and are safe, but they must be used correctly.
Pressure canners are not the same thing as a pressure cooker! This page has information on acceptable pressure canners. Along these lines, Insta-Pots, while popular now, are not pressure canners.
Substituting Peppers in Recipes
Most of California has access to a wide variety of pepper types, but rural areas like the Eastern Sierra are not so lucky? What should you do if you cannot find the right peppers or you are suffering from a overabundance of chileno peppers?
We have posted a page with information of how to safely substitute peppers in canning recipes to either adjust the heat level or to make up for a lack of options.