Joan Sprain, St. Croix County UW Extension

BALDWIN, WI -- If you are just now thinking about canning food this summer, start by checking your equipment and supplies. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality home canned food.

A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish, and poultry. Two basic types are available. One has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner; the other has a metal weighted gauge. Dial gauges must be tested for accuracy before each canning season. Call the St. Croix County UW Extension at 715-531-1930 for information regarding testing your dial gauge.

A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The canner should be deep enough to allow at least one to two inches of water to boil over the tops of the jars.

Both types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars off the bottom of the canner.

Inventory your jars and decide if you need to buy new jars this year. Inspect those you have for nicks, cracks or chips, especially around the top sealing edge. Nicks can prevent lids from sealing. Very old jars can weaken with age and repeated use; they break under pressure and heat.

Mason-type jars specifically designed for home canning are best. Jars that use two-piece self-sealing metal lids are the recommended container in USDA guidelines.

A final must is reliable, up-to-date canning instructions. You can find them at foodsafety.wisc.edu  or by stopping by the St. Croix County UW Extension Office.

Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it a happy, successful canning season by getting prepared before your harvest is ready or you bring home the bounty from the Farmer’s Markets.

Adapted from Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., Extension Food Safety Specialist, The University of Georgia.