Home canning can provide safe, inexpensive, quality products, but only if the fruits and vegetables to be canned have been carefully selected and properly processed.
According to a national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one out of three American families canned fruit and vegetables at home in 1975 and many of them used questionable procedures.
For example, while many households used jars designed for home canning, one out of three also used peanut butter, coffee, and other kinds of jars, contrary to USDA recommendations.
Most canners used 2-piece lids with new flat metal disks; one in 10, however, were reusing some flat disks, a practice also contrary to USDA recommendations.
Although the open-kettle method of canning is recommended only for jellies and as an initial step in preparing jams before water-bath processing, it was used by nearly half of those canning fruit and pickles, one third of those canning tomatoes, and one out of seven canning vegetables. Also, many home canners were filling jars too tightly a pactice that can result in underprocessed foods.
Most home canners seemed to be aware of signs indicating spoilage in canned foods, such a bulging lids, leaks, spurting liquid when a container is opened, off-odor, and mold: however, two out of five home canners thought there would always be some signs if the food was spoiled, and were not aware that deadly botulinum toxin may be present in improperly canned foods without any signs of spoilage.
Organisms that caused food spoilage, molds, yeasts, and bacteria, are always present in air, water and soil. Enzymes that may cause undesirable change in flavor, color and texture are present in raw fruits and vegetables. When fruits and vegetables are canned they must be heated hot enough and long enough to destroy the spoilage organisms and stop the action of anzymes.
Succession plantings is one of the best ways to keep your vegetable garden producing throughout the season. To keep every inch of space busy, as soon as one crop is finished, plant another.
When early summer varieties, such as lettuce, peas, radishes and spinach are harvested, clean up that area and plant something else.
Snap beans planted about every two weeks until midsummer are a good follow-up to spring crops and provide a continous supply for table and freezer, rather than a deluge at one time and a dearth later on.
Swiss chard - either the brilliant red-stemmed Rhubarb variety or Fordhook Giant with pearly-white stalks - is a natural to succeed spring spinach. Swiss chard takes both summer heat and light fall frost and continually producers succulent greens for cooking.
Look ahead to fall and plant Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and kale. All these mature best in coll weather, in fact Brussels sprouts and kale can take ice and snow.
Beets, carrots, turnips and rutabagas are good for fine eating all fall and well into winter. The later plantings produce roots to store in a cool, dark frost-free place for winter use. Or, store roots right in the garden.
Don't dig them up, just cover the rows in late fall with a thick layer of straw, salt hay or evergreen boughs. Whenever weather permits, push aside this covering and all pull as many roots as you want.
You can often get a fall crop of peas from a second sowing in midsummer.Pods develop well in cool fall weather, but should be mature before frost. Try Oregon Sugas Pod. or Sweetpod TM snow pea types.
These are two important points to remember for success with summer planting. Check the number of days to maturity for each variety and allow enough time to grow and harvest tender vegetables before the first expected heavy frost.
Remember, as days get shorter it may take plants a little longer to mature than during long days of late spring and summer.
Keep the ground evenly moist after sowing seeds. The weather may be hot, dry and windy so water as often as necessary with a fine spray to keep the soil damp until the seedlings are up and growing well.