7 Controversial Canning Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Health

7 Controversial Canning Mistakes That Can Cost You Your Health

There’s common canning mistakes…and then there’s canning mistakes that can cost you your health.

Every year, I see the same articles floating around the internet and getting shared on Facebook. And I worry for the unsuspecting people who will follow this bad advice, and make all sorts of canning mistakes that might lead them to a hospital visit (and a big ol’ bill).

Canning vegetables should be a fun and easy process, and it is, when you follow established directions that are safe and have been studied.

In this article, we’ll debunk a lot of the canning myths I see floating around on the internet so you can feel confident canning your harvest.

Umm…actually….

One common response to debunked canning mistakes usually is something like “well, my grandmother did it and nobody died, so it must be okay.”

Yes, reported cases of poisonings from home canned goods are relatively rare. But that’s because a majority of people follow canning recipes outlined by research institutes such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

This center has studied many food preservation methods, which have helped to establish which home canning recipes and practices are safe – and which are just canning mistakes you want to avoid.

Here’s 7 canning mistakes you might see on Facebook. You should avoid these myths so you don’t get sick.

Mistake #1: Oven canning is safe

Oven canning, which involves placing filled jars in a hot oven then allowing the heat to seal the jars, is one common canning tip that’s totally a safety don’t.

The simple reason is the contents of your jars may not get hot enough to actually kill all the bacteria and mold spores in your food, which then have a likelihood of growing inside your jars.

While both water bath and pressure canning rely on water to conduct heat to kill bacteria, mold, etc. that might spoil food, the oven canning method involves only dry heat. Because dry heat does not raise temperatures as consistently as water, there’s no telling what the temperature inside the jar has reached.

Even if you leave your food in the oven for the same amount of time you would if you were water bath canning, the inside of your canning jar might not get as hot as it needs to be to properly kill all the bacteria crawling inside. It’s one of the most common mistakes we see!

Mistake #2: Flipping a hot jar upside down seals it well enough, and waterbath or pressure canning isn’t necessary.

A few articles on the internet offer the advice that that after filling a hot canning jar, it’s perfectly safe to flip it upside down to get the lid to seal. While your lid might seal, it’s potentially too weak to make a really sticky seal, and you might find in a few months that your jars are no longer sealed at all (and have a big green moldy mess).

Additionally, one of the most common mistakes with this method is that your food, which you just ladled into the jar, also probably didn’t reach a high enough temperature to kill off any nasties lurking around to spoil your food.

According to science, the biggest reason that water bath and pressure canning are safe is because they raise the internal temperature of the food to a high enough degree that a most of the bacteria and mold spores are killed.

If you rely on flipping the jar to create a seal, you’re making more than just a few mistakes by skipping an important step.

Mistake #3: Paraffin wax is an excellent sealer

Using paraffin to seal food is another common mistakes we see when it comes to canning. Using paraffin in canning to preserve food involves placing thin layers of wax over your jar until there’s about a half inch of wax that seals the opening.

Back in the day, canning with paraffin wax was considered safe, but the research shows that the bacteria and spores just aren’t sufficiently destroyed. There’s also no way to determine whether the jar is actually sealed well enough.  Stick with new mason jar tops!

Mistake #4: Inventing your own recipes is okay

While I’m always tempted to create my own salsa recipes, the truth is that inventing your own canning recipes isn’t a good idea, and so it’s 4th on our list of common canning mistakes. The canning recipes you see in the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving and on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website have been rigorously tested for safety.

If you create your own canning recipe, the amount of acid needed to safely preserve food might be off (a pH of 4.6 or lower is advised), or the temperature might not get high enough to adequately destroy bacteria and mold spores present. If you want to make up your own canning recipes, you can always freeze it.

Mistake #5: If it’s canned at the store, then it’s ok to can it at home

This is one of the biggest common canning mistakes I see. Here’s why: Commercial manufacturers spend a lot of money researching canning and safe storage techniques. They also can heat their canning recipes to a higher temperature than we’re able to using our own equipment. While they have methods and data to safely preserve certain foods, we do not, and we can’t repeat these techniques at home.

Mistake #6 It’s not necessary to boil lids before canning

On the contrary, it’s very important to boil mason jar lids before using them to preserve fruits and veggies. While sometimes you’ll read that the lids will get sterilized during canning anyway, simmering the lids is meant to heat the rubbery part to ensure a proper seal. The last thing you want is to make mistakes that cause a poor or faulty seal to destroy all your hard work.

Mistake #7: Canning butter is safe

I frequently see recipes and articles that recommend preserving butter by pouring hot, melted butter into heated jars, then sealing the product by flipping it. In fact, it’s one of the most common mistakes I see shared on Facebook, and a hotly debated topic.

While it seems logical that dairy can be preserved in jars, at this time, there are no safe canning recipes to preserve butter out there. Butter is a low-acid product, meaning botulism spores have a better environment to grow.

Fats like butter can also protect bacteria from heat during canning, so for now, preserve your butter at home by freezing it. Kept at room temperature, your canned butter will quickly spoil.

Canning and preserving fruit & vegetables is safe....unless you make one of these common canning mistakes. Here's how to avoid them & stay healthy!

DIY Stock Tank Pools Are Here! Make Yours!

DIY Stock Tank Pools Are Here! Make Yours!

Thinking about researching stock tank pools and maybe even DIY-ing one this summer? Well, you have good taste, my friend.

 

Country living is all about finding fun, creative ways to use things other people might not even think about. In a hot summer when all you can stare at is your large backyard, wouldn’t you want to build yourself a swimming pool to squelch the oppressive heat?

 

But let’s face it – most of us don’t have the dollars on hand, the space, or the energy to start digging up our backyard for an in-ground pool.

 

Well, that’s where stock tank pools come in. A stock tank hot tub or pool is your coolest alternative to an in-ground backyard pool.

 

It’s the good ol’ redneck solutions to hot weather, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should read the rest of this article.

 

These are metal tanks originally built for homestead living as a water system for plants and livestock. We use them for our horses!

 

But clever people out there in the world (way more clever than I!) have found a way to make use of these waterers….and they’ve become the mason jars of backyard pools.

 

They are sturdy, affordable, and highly Instagram-able. If you are curious enough about how to build one, check out some ideas below to help get you started.

 

How to craft a stock tank pool

You should first buy or find a galvanized tank 8-foot in diameter and about 2 feet deep. It’s big enough for one person to submerge into and float away.

 

Next, you’ll need to figure out where to put it! This might sound easy, but filling up a large volume of water and maintaining it is a pretty tedious job. (Ask me how I know!)

 

Hence, one of the best stock tank pool ideas is to permanently place it on a spot close to a water source.

 

From there, you can either hang a hose over to the side to fill it up or you can drill holes and use a small pump to keep the water moving.

 

One pressing issue in using these tanks as pools is keeping the water clean and something you’d want to swim in. Regularly skimming the surface with a net can work well (albeit with more effort) as a pump filtration system.

 

You can also use a pool vacuum to remove dirt and build-up from the bottom of the tank. Chlorine tabs are common however, experts say that using a chlorine float works better to prevent rust and corrosion.

Adding features to stock tank pools

So you now have a mini-pond in your backyard. What’s next? Engross yourself in a hands-on DIY project to add decks or other features.

 

Do you find still water boring? Create a cascading waterfall. Building a wooden floor also creates that rustic touch we all want for our country homes.

 

Some other design ideas are:

  • Adding a deck
  • Placing large landscaping stones around the tank as a pathway
  • Add solar powered lights around the pool (great for a night swim).
  • Hang canopies to ward off mosquitoes, or add battery powered diffusers for citronella essential oil.

What to do when the weather turns cold?

You can leave your stock tank pools outside (they ARE designed for year-round use as livestock waterers), or dismantle the entire pool and bring it indoors to a shed or garage.

 

Another idea is to bring it indoors and have yourself a stock tank hot tub (just be sure your house can handle the amount of water inside.)

Getting your own backyard pool has never been easy. With a galvanized tank, a small pump, and some tubing, you can enjoy a dip in the water any day this summer. Stock tank pools are a hit, don’t you think?

6 Genius Hacks To Preserve Fresh Herbs

6 Genius Hacks To Preserve Fresh Herbs

Got a ton of herbs growing in your garden? Then you’ll probably want to preserve them.

 

I’ve been harvesting 5 gallon buckets of herbs for the past couple months, and drying them just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

 

There’s only so many dry herbs one person needs!

 

Drying them is great – but it doesn’t always preserve the taste (and some dry herbs just don’t hold a candle to fresh herbs!)

 

Herbs also have more than just culinary use, and there’s MANY more ways you can preserve them than just hanging them upside down and wait for them to turn crispy and dry.

 

In this article, I’m going to show you 6 different ways you can preserve fresh herbs so they still taste fresh and so you can use them for more than just cooking.

 

Freeze in Oil

Preserving herbs in oil and then freezing them isn’t a new idea, but it works really, really well to preserve the taste.

 

In an ice tray, pour oil (usually olive oil, but you can also use coconut or avocado oil) into each compartment and then add chopped, fresh herbs.

 

Slip into your freezer and leave them there until needed for cooking.

 

Preserve in Oil

Did you know that you can preserve fresh herbs in oil and that it will be shelf-stable for much longer?

 

Humans have been using oil for centuries to preserve herbs, and the oil takes on the scent, taste, and medicinal properties of the herbs.

 

If you like the taste of basil on your pasta, but don’t really like pesto, add basil to olive oil (making sure to completely cover the herbs, otherwise they’ll mold). In a couple weeks, you’ll notice the oil start to smell like the herbs.

 

If you like making your own salves, lotions, and lip balms, and want to use herbs to make them even better, you can use herb-infused oils.

 

For example, if you want to use the skin-soothing properties of calendula or dandelion, soak the herbs in oil for 2-4 weeks. Then use the oil as you normally would in your favorite recipes.

 

Dry in Your Microwave

If you want to dry your herbs but don’t want to wait weeks (and possibly have dust collect on the plants or lose leaves if they fall off during the drying process), you can dry them in your microwave.

 

Place herbs in a single layer without their stems on a on a paper towel, and place on a microwave-safe plate. The paper towel will help absorb extra moisture.

 

Dry in 30 second intervals until completely dry. Store on your shelf in a mason jar and use as needed.

 

Dry herbs CAN be used to infuse oils as well.


If you don’t want to use a microwave, but don’t want to wait weeks, you can use a dehydrator like this one.

 

Preserve Fresh Herbs Longer in a Mason Jar

If you want to hold on to fresh herbs for cooking or medicinal use but don’t need to preserve them for long-term storage, try this trick.

 

Fill a mason jar halfway with water, and place your herbs, stem down, in the mason jar.

 

Cover with a plastic bag, and secure the bag to the mason jar with twine or a rubber band. (Don’t seal with the jar lid and ring – leave them off).

 

Store inside your fridge – the herbs will stay good for a couple weeks. This works because the herbs aren’t as exposed to air, and aren’t kept in an overly moist environment (like if you just kept them in a plastic bag and susceptible to condensation).

 

Make Herbed Salt

Another genius hack to preserve herbs is to preserve them in salt. Like oil, humans have been using salt for generations to preserve food.

 

Over time, the salt will take on the taste of the herbs.

 

What you’ll need:

 

  • Salt, such as kosher, sea, or other large-grain salt. (Not table salt)
  • A mason jar
  • ½ – 1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped

 

Place a layer of salt at the bottom of your mason jar. Then, layer a small amount of herbs. Alternate until the jar is full or you’re out of herbs.

 

Store on a shelf until needed, but use within 1 year.

 

Craft Herbal Vinegars

Finally, you can preserve your herbs in vinegar (apple, white, wine, etc). Pretty much the sky’s the limit.

 

Like oil and salt, humans have used vinegar for centuries to preserve food (and sometimes human bodies – yuck).

 

To make your own herbal vinegars, grab a mason jar and fill it with your favorite vinegar (white is mine – good for salad dressings).

 

You can add either whole or chopped herbs, but fresh herbs are best in order to impart as much flavor to the vinegar as possible.

 

Remove any wilted, yellow, or funky-looking herbs before preserving the rest.

 

You can use herbal vinegars in cooking or as a hair rinse (rosemary vinegar is great for your hair). Herbal vinegars also make a great gift.