“What Ever’s In” Food Preservation Classes

— Written By Sherrie Peeler and last updated by Kerri Rayburn

One of the highlights this summer at the Jackson County Extension Center has been the “Tomato Jam” that we made at one of our “What Ever’s In” classes. The recipe is from “So Easy to Preserve” by Elizabeth Andress of The University of Georgia and is an excellent resource for home food preservation.

Tomatoes are just one of the many local crops we have enjoyed in abundance this summer. If you have had an interest in preserving the bounty of your garden or one of our local farmers it is not to late to preserve some local freshness for the upcoming winter.

Basic guidelines for home food preservation include knowing the acidity of the food you would like to preserve. Low acid foods like corn, peas, lima beans, asparagus, green beans, spinach, beets, turnips, carrots, and okra are greater than 4.6 and require a pressure canner. At an altitude of 2,000 to 4,000 feet add 2 pounds of pressure to your dial gauge pressure canner. If your elevation happens to be over 4,000 then you would add 3 pounds of pressure to your dial gauge pressure canner. If you have the weighted gauge type pressure canner then use the 15-pound weight.

If you have decided to process high acid foods, then a water bath canner will process your produce safely for your family. High acid foods include tomatoes, pears, kraut, peaches, cherries, apples, blackberries, plums, apricots, gooseberries, pickles, and lemons. Since our Land Grant Universities had been so proficient at developing tomatoes with a lower acidity level it is recommended to add a 2 table spoons of bottled lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid to each quart of tomatoes. Again, we must adjust for our altitude here in Jackson County. 1001 to 3,000 feet add 5 minutes to the processing time in your water bath canner. I you live at 3,001 to 6,000 feet then you will need to add 10 minutes to the recommended processing time in your water bath canner.

Canning jars may be used for years as long as they are clean and free of scratches and chips. Heat jars and lids in simmering water. Be sure not to boil the lids. When filling your jars refer to your recipe for the correct headspace.

Once your items are correctly processed it is best to let them cool on the counter for 24 hours. Then check to make sure they are correctly sealed. If not they may be reprocessed. Please call the Jackson County Extension Center if you have any other questions or would like some safe tested recipes for preserving food in your home.

Our Jackson County ECA has been busy making jams and jellies and will have them for sale on September 19, 2015 at a craft event in Dillsboro. Watch the Sylva Herald for exact times of the event. Jams and jellies will not be for sale prior to this event.