Food for Thought: Ensure safety before gifting home-canned goodies

Contributed by Nancy Schuster, Frontier Extension Agent

Food for ThoughtGifting some of your home canned food gives a real personal touch to birthdays or holidays. There is also the added responsibility of vouching for the safety of the food you give. As tempting as it may be to impress your friends with a brand new, never-before-tasted canned creation, your first measure of safety is to use tested recommendations from reliable sources. Instead of experimenting with recipes, get creative with the way you package your home preserved gifts.

If you use an attractive canning jar of a unique size (12 ounces, for example) and you can’t find canning recommendations for that size jar, be sure to use the next biggest size jar that does have canning recommendations (so in the example of the 12 ounce jar, follow processing times listed for pint jars.) Otherwise the product might be under-processed and there is a strong risk of mold/spoilage or causing sickness.

121714-canned-giftsIt’s also important to remember there are jars on the market that look lovely but they are not recommended for canning. Some of these jars may even look like canning jars but are not tempered to withstand the intense heat of canning or temperature changes that happen while removing jars from in and out of the canner. These kinds of jars are great to put cookies, trail mix, dried fruits in for gifts. Current canning recommendations are for use with Mason-type home-canning jars and two-piece lid systems.

There are decorative labels you can use to label your jars of canned food. Always remember to include the creation date, and consider telling your recipient how long the product will stay good (usually one year for best quality in most home canned foods.) These days it’s also important to add ingredients (product may contain allergens) and storage instructions such as, “Store in a cool, dry place and refrigerate after opening.”

If you didn’t already do your canning for gift-giving, here are some festive ideas using seasonal ingredients:

There are also a few popular gifts that are not recommended for home canning. Don’t risk the health of your loved ones – try the alternative suggestions instead.

This information is thanks to a blog by Brian A. Nummer, Dec. 10, 2014, “Tips for Gifting your Home Canned Goodies”, Athens, Ga., National Center for Home Food Preservation. Sign up for the excellent and safe blog at:

schustersmNancy Schuster is a Frontier Extension District family and consumer science agent whose responsibilities include providing information about food safety, nutrition, food science and food preparation. She is based in the Garnett office of the Frontier Extension District and can be reached at 785-448-6826 or email [email protected].

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