Dozens of jars of canned goods lined up on shelves
The USDA's Major Problem With Open-Kettle Canned Goods
Preserving foods like applesauce, jam, and pickles in jars is a fond American pastime, but many home cooks don’t realize that some forms of canning are rife with safety risks.
The most popular process for home canning is referred to as open-kettle canning. Food is boiled and poured into a jar, which then seals on its own as the food cools.
According to the USDA, this method creates opportunities for contamination. Foods are rarely heated to the temperature required to kill dangerous mold, yeast, and bacteria.
A lack of very high heat in open-kettle canning may also result in an inadequate seal on the jars, leaving room for infiltration by outside agents as the canned food sits.
Another popular method, oven canning, is similarly hazardous. Glass jars are prone to cracking or shattering when exposed to the dry heat of an oven in order to sanitize them.
To safely can acidic foods like jams, you’re better off placing the filled jars, lids on, in a bath of boiling water so everything can be sanitized together at a high temperature.
As long as the water’s temperature is between 180 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit the whole time, the process will eliminate bacteria and yield a tight seal.
For low-acid ingredients like meats and vegetables, invest in a pressure canner. This device cans goods properly so you can enjoy your preserved food illness-free.