Elderly Care Tips: Tips for Safe Canning
Canning is a wonderful way to preserve the abundance of delicious and nutritious produce available throughout the summer and beginning of fall, stretching your grocery budget and providing tasty meals, snacks, and ingredients you can enjoy through the rest of the year. Preserving food is also a great activity to add to your elderly care plan to spend extra quality time with your aging parents, encourage critical thinking and memory skills, and give them an emotional boost and sense of accomplishment.
Many people feel intimidated when they think about canning their own food at home, whether they are thinking about putting up preserves and jellies, making a few batches of homemade pickles, or canning their own vegetables from the garden. There is a strong belief that the process is extremely difficult and confusing, or that people are more likely than not going to create unsafe food by canning improperly. Fortunately, with the right techniques and a bit of knowledge, canning is nowhere near as difficult as most people think. In fact, it can be simple enough that you can feel confident enjoying this activity with your aging loved ones, or encouraging them to spend time preserving food with their elderly health care services provider.
As with any activity involving food, it is essential to take the proper steps to avoid contamination and unsafe bacteria growth, particularly during the storage period for canned foods. Use these tips to help you and your aging parents can safely and effectively whether you are enjoying the benefits of a bountiful harvest from your own garden or plan to visit the farmer’s market for delicious items to preserve:
- Start with the best. You are not going to improve food by preserving it, so make sure that you start with the very best quality produce that you can find. Do not try to use produce that is nearly spoiled or that has not ripened, as preserving it will only emphasize the quality issues. Start with ripe, good quality food items to get the most nutrition and best flavor;
- Recycle carefully. The safest way to preserve food is to purchase new jars before each canning session and sterilize them before filling. If you want to recycle jars you already have, however, make sure that you choose jars that are in good condition with no cracks, chips, or other issues, and that have a sealable lid;
- Know your technique. There are two basic canning techniques recommended by experts in the field: water bath canning and pressure canning. While both of these are viable options for most canning applications, each is better for some applications than others. If you have both options available, always use water bath canning for high acid food preservation, and pressure canning for low acid food preservation;
- When in doubt, refrigerate. Improperly preserved food carries a high risk of spoilage and contamination with foodborne pathogens such as botulism. If you are concerned that the canning process did not work properly, put your food in the refrigerator and eat it within 5 days.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in the New Haven Area, please call and speak to the caring staff at Talem Home Care. Call today at (203) 590-9099.