Safe Preserving: Play it safe when preserving vegetables

Image courtesy of NC State University.The safety of the food that you preserve for your family and friends is important to you. The University of Wisconsin-Extension supports using up-to-date, research-tested recipes so that you know that the food that you preserve is both safe and high in quality. Here are a few quick tips on changes and substitutions that will keep your home preserved vegetables safe to eat.

Canning Vegetables. Vegetables are low in acid and must be canned in a pressure canner. There are some changes that you can safely make when canning vegetables at home.

  • You may create vegetable mixtures as long as there is a tested recipe for each vegetable that you are combining and you follow the processing time for the vegetable that has the longest time listed.
  • You may add a small amount of garlic (up to 1 clove per jar) to canned vegetables without impacting the processing time.
  • Do not thicken canned vegetables with flour or cornstarch, or add rice, pasta or other starchy ingredient, an unsafe product will result.

Research tested recipes for canning vegetables at home are available from the University of Wisconsin Extension.

Freezing Vegetables. Sometimes it’s just easier to freeze vegetables from the garden. Freezing vegetables takes minimal equipment, just a pot for boiling water or creating steam for blanching, and a bowl for cooling the blanched vegetables. You also need to make sure the frozen vegetables are well packaged for the freezer. In the heat of summer, freezing can be a ‘breeze.’  The key to freezing vegetables is quick cooling in ice water after blanching.  The cooling time should always equal the blanch time. So green peas blanched for 90 seconds are cooled for 90 seconds in ice water and then drained (well!) prior to packaging for the freezer.

Research tested recipes for freezing vegetables at home are available from the University of Wisconsin Extension. The National Center for Home Food Preservation also has some ideas for quickly converting your garden produce into frozen food for later enjoyment.

Drying Vegetables. Most vegetables dry even more successfully than fruits. For tips on making dried vegetables, including vegetable leathers, check out information from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Safe preserving! Barb