Thursday, February 22, 2018

Putnam: Plan garden early to be ready for canning

By Tami Putnam
Jan. 14, 2018 at 4 a.m.

What is that saying? "The early bird catches the worm?" I know it is hard to imagine, but it is time to start thinking about our gardens. What is it that you would like to grow in your garden? Are you going to eat all that you grow? Are you going to sack it up and share with others or you could preserve it all and share the preserved foods at Christmas next year? One of our agents passed out preserved items to all of her co-workers at our Christmas party and I have to say that it was the best Christmas present that I received. Why? I know that she worked hard and put effort in preparing a gift for each of us because preserving is rewarding, but not easy.

How hard can it be? I would like to give you some basic information on canning from the "So Easy to Preserve" book by the Cooperative Extension at the University of Georgia. There are two safe ways of canning, depending on the type of food being canned. These are the boiling water canner method and the pressure canner method. The boiling water bath method is safe for fruits, tomatoes and pickles as well as jam, jellies and other preserves. In this method, jars of food are heated completely covered with boiling water (212 degrees fahrenheit at seal level). Pressure canning is the only safe method of canning vegetables, meats, poultry and seafood. Jars of food are placed in 2 to 3 inches of water in a pressure canner which is heated to a temperature of at least 240 degrees fahrenheit . This temperature can only be reached in a pressure canner. It is only safe if you are aware of what you should and should not do to preserve using this device.

Our agent in Upshur County has scheduled a class in January, so that each of you has all of the knowledge before the season starts. The title of this class is Pressure Canning 101 and will be held on 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 25, 2018 at the Harmony High School FCS Classroom. The cost of the class is $30, but all of that will go toward the food, supplies and items that you will take home after preserving your food. Dr. Jenna Anding from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension College Station will be covering all of the basics on pressure canning. You must sign up by Jan 17. Call our office at (903) 236-8429 for information.

I let the other agent down as I was busy with reports prior to Christmas and then when I was scheduled to return, I came down with the flu. I can tell you that it will not happen again as I am usually proactive due to unpredicted circumstances. As for the garden and preserving foods, I will catch the worm this year, how about you?

- Tami Putnam is a Texas A&M AgriLife extension agent for Gregg County.



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