CS-009: Preventing Botulism & Food Poisoning | Canning 101

Welcome to the Canning Season Podcast Series!

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In today's session we get into preventing botulism and food poisoning. This is the third in my Canning 101 series. 

I put this series together to give those new to canning as well as those more experienced a good review of the concepts central to the wonderful world of safe home canning and food preservation!  In this session we will learn the answers to these questions --

  • What is botulism?
  • How do you get it?
  • What are its signs and symptoms?
  • How do you prevent botulism or other food poisoning?
  • What is meant by a low-acid versus a high-acid food?
  • Why is it so important to understand acidity of the food you are preserving?
  • What are the basic methods to safe food processing?

As a reminder, this series of shows is based entirely on information and expertise provided by the USDA, the National Center for Food Preservation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ball Blue Book of Preserving.

Click here or on the picture to buy your own copy of the Ball Blue Book.  (Affiliate Link)

These additional links were provided to my by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  These sites are very detailed and should provide you with the information you are looking for.

Click here to give me a rating on iTunes (hopefully positive!) along with a written comment to tell people what you like about the podcast.  Thanks for listening!

This is the full transcript for this session --

This is the Canning Season podcast with John Gavin, episode #9.  Get out your pencils, your lunch boxes and settle in.  You’re back in school.  It’s Canning 101 and this is the most important lesson of this series.

Welcome to the Canning Season Podcast.  This is the show that’s dedicated to helping you get the most out of the home canning and preservation lifestyle.  In this community, it’s all about celebrating and sharing the abundance.  To lead the way, here’s your host, an avid home canner himself, John Gavin.

Hey everybody.  I’m John Gavin.  I’d like to welcome you back to this, the Canning Season Podcast.  I said at the beginning that this is perhaps the most – I didn’t say perhaps but it is – it’s perhaps the most important lesson of the Canning 101 series.  

Today, we get into the topic of botulism and food poisoning.  When you are approaching the topic of home canning and food preservation, there is nothing more important that you must master as a concept.  Let me say that again.  If you are considering taking on home canning and food preservation as a hobby to provide for our family, your friends in any way at all, you must master the concepts related to botulism and food poisoning.

The good news is, it’s not that hard but it’s super important, and we’re fortunate today because I have been connected with some excellent resources, thanks to the Centers for Disease Control who gave me some phenomenal links, and all of those links will be on the show notes for this episode.  

That reminds me then, I have to tell you right at the outset, I have to remind you, that I am not a scientist.  I am an amateur.  I am like you.  I am just an avid home canner myself and I need you to go to the trusted resources and rely on them because that is what I am doing today.  

I’m passing on information to you here in August 2013 and I just said that date out loud because if you are listening to this years from now somehow, some way, it’s important that you go and the current – the latest thinking.  

I’m relying on the United States Department of Agriculture’s complete guide to home canning, the 2009 revision, which is posted on the internet today.  That is the version, posted at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  I’m relying on data provided directly to me from the Centers for Disease Control.  I am using their work, I’m freely passing it on, and I’m not representing this as my own because I am, again, just not a scientist.  

What I want you to do is just realize that that is out there and I’m – like I tell you over and over – follow the recipes, follow the guidelines because these are the things that have been tested for us.  Experts have gone through and made sure home canning is safe for us.  

Even though today’s topic, botulism, might be a little bit scary, and I don’t mind that you’re scared, and if you’re a seasoned home canner, stay with me.  You need to hear this.  Once a year, come back to this podcast.  

This is perhaps the most important episode that I will ever produce in this series of the Canning Season Podcast – how about that for really raising it up, because the stakes are that high.  

If I haven’t raised expectations and fear a little bit then I haven’t done a good job, but I want to take the edge off by assuring you, the fear calms down once you understand the concepts, once you understand how to safely home-can and preserve food, then this is something you’d just pay attention to, you’re just aware of, and you use what we call proven methods, processes and techniques for safely canning your goodies.  It’s really not that bad, all right?

As a reminder, of course, you and you alone are in fact responsible for the health and safety of your family for what you do in your kitchen, and as you’re thinking about that through today’s episode, you may be asking yourself, “Hey, he keeps talking about these different processing methods.  When’s he going to get to them?”  When?  

The two processing methods that you hear over and over from the experts are what’s called a boiling water bath and the other is called pressure processing.  I don’t explain how they work – how it is that they mitigate disease and keep your food safe – nor do I explain how to do that in today’s episode.  Today’s episode is the foundation that builds up to that.  
In the episode, I will explain those concepts in much greater detail.  It’s actually kind of cool the way that it works.  The other thing is in today’s episode I don’t get into some ways that you can potentially detect food poisoning because there can be visible signs and things to look for, and I’ll get into that in the next episode too.  

Before I drop this, what I mean by signs is in today’s episode I will get into signs and symptoms and botulism.  What I’m talking about is signs actually in the jars – is there discoloration, are there things that you can look for, changes in appearance or smell of the food itself.  In some cases, yes there are and again, next episode I’ll get into that as well.

You know what, I’m going to have to throw in a little bit of happy music here just to set the tone and we’ll get to work.  We have some work today.

All right.  Those of you who have listened to this podcast before, you recognize that that’s the music I play when I say we’re going to do some garden talk and canning talk.  We’re not doing that today but I had to throw that in because it does have that nice, summery happy feeling to it, and it is in fact summer here in the Northern Hemisphere and home gardeners in this part of the world are in fact harvesting the delicious produce they’ve been producing this year, and it is really awesome.  

In fact, did you know that – and all the data again, comes from government sources – and according to the government, one in five US households can their own food?  I didn’t know the number was that high.  Sixty five percent of those households can vegetables.  I didn’t know that either.  

The thing is, and those of you who are home canners and those of you who want to learn, you do recognize in fact that home canning is a great way to preserve your garden goodies.  It really is.  But as I said at the outset, as I say over and over, if done the wrong way, especially vegetables, all these goodies that you worked so hard for could become contaminated by a germ that causes botulism.  

Botulism is a serious illness that can affect your nerves, it can paralyze you, and it can even cause death.  

Today, we’re going to learn about the symptoms of botulism, how to recognize it, and the safe way that you can protect yourself, your family, and others when sharing your home-canned goodies.  

Did you know, by the way, that home-canned vegetables are the most common cause of botulism outbreaks in the United States?  From 1996 to 2008 there were 116 outbreaks of food-borne botulism reported to the Centers for Disease Control, and going forward I’ll refer to them as the CDC.  

According to the CDC, of the 48 outbreaks that were caused by home-prepared foods 18 outbreaks or 38% were from home-canned vegetables and these outbreaks often occur because home canners did not follow canning instructions, did not use pressure processing methods when called for, ignored signs of food spoilage and were unaware of the risk of botulism from improperly preserving vegetables.  I include a link to the CDC website where you can learn all about this and including, you can learn about three outbreaks of food-borne botulism caused by unsafe home canning of vegetables in Ohio and Washington in 2008 and 2009.

Let me raise the fear a little bit.  I have to do that.  I just do.  I have to raise the fear and then I’ll take it away, I promise.   

I want to read a sentence to you and I’m quoting now.  This is from the University of Minnesota Extension Service who otherwise, for the record, has still been worthless on helping me with this, and yes, I’m going to keep reminding me of people that, because they stiffed me and I don’t like it.  

Anyway, using an online resource of theirs, “Individuals who can food at home are taking a great risk.”  

Wow.  Do you even want to continue?  I mean, do you want to stay with this?  Do you still want to can?  Well, I only read you part of that quote.  Let me read the entire quote:

“Individuals who can food at home and do not use methods approved by the Minnesota Extension Service, other state extension services, the United States Department of Agriculture, or other reputable sources such as the people who make Kerr or Ball canning jars, are taking a great risk with the health of those who eat the canned product.”

We are able to turn that sentence – individuals who can at home are taking a great risk – into one that we can feel better about, which is individuals who can at home and don’t follow the methods approved by the experts are taking a great risk.  You see the difference?  

So it’s really important that we really learn about those methods and those techniques because these experts are out there.  They work for government agencies.  We paid them for decades to study this for us.  

Do you think that the people who make Ball jars or Kerr jars, those are the main types of jars we get here in the United States?  Do you think that they’re going to take risks with some of the pertinent materials and guidance they put out there?  Of course they’re not, and so you can trust these resources.  

When it comes to food safety, really, the fact is that any food, even in your kitchen day to day, any food improperly handled is subject to growth of food poisoning bacteria such as botulism, salmonella, e. coli and listeria, all of which could cause serious illness or death.  But the fact remains; botulism is your greatest danger.  
As a matter of fact, as little as – I don’t know how we measure this, I have a way to measure it – as little as two billions of a gram of the botulinum toxin can cause symptoms.  In other words, I’ll give you a better way to understand it.  

Imagine that you have a jar of canned food.  Just stick in your pinky.  I want you to imagine sticking your pinky, you know, how you put it to your tongue.  You just taste your pinky on your tongue to see if it tastes bad?  That could give you enough toxin to kill you so we really want to be careful.  

The thing, though, that’s curious about botulism – I’ll get this wrong.  I’m going to have to repeat it a couple of times – but it’s the clostridium botulinum spores.  That’s the official name of the bacteria.  They’re actually spores.  

Let me first say this.  These spores are on most fresh food surfaces, so how about that – botulism surrounds you!  

It’s on most fresh food surfaces anyway, and yet people aren’t dying in the streets from botulism.  That’s good news then.  The thing is, they only grow – botulism spores, I can’t use the technical name, it’s too hard.  Botulism’s the word – botulism spores only grow in the absence of air, and you know what?  They’re harmless on fresh foods.  How cool is that?  We’re surrounded by them but they can’t hurt us.  

Now, this is quoting directly from the USDA:  “The spores, which are comparable to plant seeds, can survive harmlessly in soil and water for many years.”  Again, we’re surrounded by them, right?

Continuing on with that quote, “When ideal conditions exist for growth, the spores may produce a deadly toxin within three days of growth in an environment consisting of,” – in other words, this is the ideal environment for these spores – the ideal environment is what’s called a moist low-acid at a temperature between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, in an environment of less than 2% oxygen.  

Do you realize what environment I just described to you as the ideal place to grow botulism?  A canning jar.  

In fact, improper home canning creates the perfect environment in which to grow the botulism toxin.  Think about it.  It’s moist.  I’m talking about this concept called low-acid food.  I will get to the distinction later in this episode between what we call low-acid and high-acid food, but botulism occurs when low-acid foods aren’t properly prepared and so botulism actually can’t grow on a high-acid environment as far as I understand.  I’m not aware that it ever has.  

Anyway, think of what’s inside a jar.  It’s moist.  You put the right food in there.  You have the right temperature because it’s room temperature, it’s on the shelf, and the canning process creates a low-oxygen environment.  If you do it wrong, you’ve created the perfect incubator for botulism to grow.  

Here’s the thing.  Food that’s contaminated by botulism, it may look and smell normal.  There is often no warning.  That’s why home canning must be done with extreme care.  Now that I set that up, let’s get into what is botulism.

All right.  Again, I’m drawing directly from the CDC’s materials and what they say – what the government tells us – is botulism is a rare but serious illness, and this is going to get a little technical but I found it actually fascinating so I think you’ll enjoy it too.  

Anyway, according to the CDC, botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a germ called clostridium botulinum.  The germ is found in soil and can survive, grow and produce a toxin in a sealed jar of food.  I already explained that.  

The toxin can affect your nerves, paralyze you, and even cause death and even taking a small taste of food containing this toxin can be deadly.  Botulism is classified as a medical emergency and if you have symptoms of food-borne botulism, you are urged to seek medical care immediately.  

What are the symptoms of botulism?  What do you want to watch out for?  

The classic symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.  

Now, I’ll read that again and I want to let you know, I will have these notes transcribed and I will have all the links on the website so if you’re in your car and you’re all worried about this, calm down.  It’s all there for you.  Uncle Johnny has you covered.  Let’s see.  

The classic symptoms of botulism again include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth and muscle weakness.  Really, you’re slowly getting paralyzed, right?  

Infants with botulism will appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone.  All these are symptoms of the muscle paralysis that is caused by the bacterial toxin, and if untreated these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the respiratory muscles, arms, legs and the trunk, the main portion of your body.  

In food-borne botulism, symptoms generally begin 18 to 36 hours after eating a contaminated food but they can occur as fast, if you will, as 6 hours or it could take as long as 10 days.  

Now, the question comes up.  Are there complications from botulism?  Yes, there are.  There can be, for sure, because we know that botulism can result in death due to respiratory failure.  However, the good news is that in the past 50 years the proportion of patients with botulism who die has fallen from about 50% to the latest data of about 3% to 5%, so about 3% to 5% of people who contract botulism today are expected to die versus 50% in the past.

However, it’s not so good, because a patient with severe botulism may require a breathing machine as well as intensive medical and nursing care – catch this – for several months, and some patients don’t die from the botulism.  They die from infections or other problems related to remaining paralyzed for weeks or months!  

Patients who survive an episode of botulism poisoning may have fatigue and shortness of breath for years and long-term therapy may be needed to aid in their recovery.

Wow.  Okay, you had me convinced.  Talk to me now about how we prevent it.  How can botulism be prevented?  

The good news is that many cases of botulism are in fact preventable.  Food-borne botulism, which is what we’re focused on today, has often been from home-canned foods with what’s called low-acid content.  

Some examples of foods that have low-acid content include asparagus, green beans, beets, and corn.  What happens is, they just aren’t processed following proper canning methods.  

Let’s see. What are they saying?  This is interesting.  They’re saying that there are some seemingly unlikely or unusual sources for botulism found every decade, and it gets back to the common problem of improper handling during the manufacture at retail or by consumers.  

Here’s a couple of examples that caught my attention.  One example is chopped garlic in oil.  I have a jar of chopped garlic in oil in my refrigerator because I use it in my cooking.  Well, they have found in the past that that’s been a source of botulism.  Canned cheese sauce, chili peppers, tomatoes, carrot juice, and – I never would have thought of this one – baked potatoes wrapped in foil.

In Alaska, food-borne botulism is caused by fermented fish and other aquatic game foods, and people who do home canning, definitely, the government recommends following strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods and that you carefully follow instructions on safe home canning including the use of pressure canners and cookers as recommended through your county extension service or at the US Department of Education.  

They also recommend that oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated.  I thought that was interesting.  That made me wonder?  If I have some olive oil and it’s infused with some herbs, should I refrigerate it?  It’s sounding like they are saying yes.  Potatoes, which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil, should be kept hot until served or refrigerated.  Let me read that again because that last one I would have never expected.  Potatoes, which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil, should be kept hot until served or refrigerated.  That was a surprise to me.  

Here’s the thing that I kind of liked.  Because botulism toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, people who eat home-canned foods, the government recommends that you consider boiling the food for ten minutes before eating it to ensure safety.  I’ve done that.  

Some of the stuff I’ve made in the past, I just boil it before I eat it, you know, a stew or something else that I’ve used the pressure process for.  It’s in my mind and what does it hurt?  You have to heat it up anyway so kick it up and boil it for ten minutes.  That’s a nice way to help yourself out.  

There is a concept called wound botulism because remember, the spores are in the soil, they’re all over the place, and actually you could get botulism through an open wound where a whole bunch of dirt gets in it and stuff like that.  

What they recommend is that you promptly seek medical care for infected wounds and obviously don’t use injectable street drugs.  Apparently, that’s a source of botulism.  

The government recommends that most infant cases of botulism unfortunately cannot be prevented because the bacteria that causes the disease is in soil and dust surrounding us.  The bacteria can be found inside homes on floors, carpets and counter tops even after cleaning but there is one thing you can do when it comes to the babies, and they say that honey can contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism so children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey.  

Let me repeat that.  The government recommends that children less than 12 months old should not be fed honey.  They do say that honey is safe for persons of one year of age or older.

All right.  I think we now need to move ahead to how do we understand, how do we keep it all safe, because you now have your foundation on botulism.  How do you actually keep it safe?

When it comes to food safety and when it comes to properly canning and preserving your goodies and everything else, it turns out that there is one concept that is so key, and now that I gave you this background in botulism you don’t need to be an expert in botulism.  The government gave me lots of nice links you can go, watch videos and learn all that you want, but the part that I want you to take away from our time today aside from this fear in the back of your head – don’t ever forget that – is this concept called acidity.  

Acidity is key to safe home canning and food preservation.  

Basically, there are two basic types of canning processes.  We will talk about in these next few minutes in addition to acidity, we’ll talk about this concept of pressure processing and we’ll talk about the concept of boiling water processing.  

Here’s the thing.  The recommended process, whether you pressure process or use the boiling water process depends on the acidity in the food.  The source on this is the USDA.  Acidity is the key and whichever method you’re going to use will depend on the acidity in the food.  

Here’s the best part of all.  If you don’t remember all this, follow the instructions.  I mean, that’s the thing.  That’s why I keep saying follow the instructions.  My Ball Blue Book of Preserving, if you would look at it all the pages are kind of wrinkled up because they get water splashed on them every year and everything else.  I follow the instructions.  

I teach classes, I do the Canning Season Podcast, I’m out there yapping it up about home canning all the time but I follow the instructions because I can’t remember everything, and you don’t have to worry if you can’t either.  

When we think about acidity, go back to your high school chemistry classes or your biology classes.  Remember that concept called pH?  That’s how we measure acidity.  This is kind of weird.  It doesn’t seem to make sense to me but the lower the pH the higher the acid in the food, and the higher the pH the lower the acid in the food.  All you have to do is remember, low acid versus high acid.  

The thing that’s kind of curious is, you could have acidity in food already.  A lot of fruit, just on the scale, it’s already acidic.  Or you can add acidity, like when you pickle things, when you add vinegar or sugar or salt, you’re creating an acidic environment and so what we learn is low acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6 – and I’ll give you a link to a chart you can look at to make it easier, if you’re curious, but just as a general rule – low acid foods include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables, except for most tomatoes.  

Again, low acid foods include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes.  

What that means is low acid foods must be processed in a steam pressure canner.  Low acid foods like red meat, seafood, poultry, milk and all fresh vegetables must be processed in a steam pressure canner.  

Now, what if it’s high acid?  First off, that means it has a pH according to government standards of 4.6 or lower, and high acid foods include fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades and fruit butters.  

Acid foods can be safely processed using a boiling water bath method.  The thing is, a low acid food doesn’t have enough acidity to keep the bacteria such as botulism, to keep those spores from growing and so you get this ideal environment because there’s not enough acid in the food itself to keep the spores from growing and the temperature’s perfect and there’s no oxygen and it’s moist.  I mean, the spores are going to have a party.  They’re going to grow.  

Whereas acid foods contain enough acidity to block the growth of microorganisms or destroy them more rapidly when heated, and your source on that is the USDA just like this is.  

The acidity level in foods can be increased by adding lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar, and really, the government says when in doubt – what does John say – when in doubt – what do you hear me say over and over – when in doubt, stick with proven recipes and guidelines from trusted sources.

Again, let me summarize this for you.  Whether the food should be processed in a pressure canner or a boiling water bath depends on the acidity in the food.  Low acid canned foods must be processed in a pressure canner.  Acid foods generally can be processed using boiling water canning methods, and in all cases you follow the directions.  

Now, some naturally acidic foods include most fruits such as apples, blackberries, cranberries, pears, strawberries, berries – berries, I guess that’s just berries – blueberries, peaches and raspberries.  

Now, I talked about earlier that most tomatoes, right?  Well, tomatoes are borderline and should be considered a special case because some of the stuff that’s out there says that they’re on the edge and so what they recommend is that you add lemon juice.  When I make a quart of tomatoes from the garden, I think I had one or two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart.  Don’t hold me to that because I read it.  I go find it at the time and I read it up and that’s what you should do.

There are fruits that are considered low acid foods such as figs, melons, dates, ripe pineapple, Asian pears, banana – I don’t know how people would can bananas but I suppose that could be done – papaya and persimmons.  So not all foods are high acid.  

There are some like figs and melons that are low acid but almost all vegetables are low acid and that includes asparagus, corn, garlic, greens, peas, squash, beans, cucumbers, green beans, onions, and pumpkins.  Again, almost all vegetables are low acid so have that in your mind.

How do you make your home canning safe?

See, we’re going to be bringing this on home here so it wasn’t as scary as you thought.  The way you make your home canning safe, even if you can’t remember everything from today, what I want you to remember is botulism and it’s scary.  

The way you make your home canning safe is first off, you can only using tested and approved recipes and methods, absolutely.  I’m always going to say that.  You’re never going to hear me say anything – you’ll hear me say things like, “Oh, I have John’s touch or I experiment,” and things like that but do you know at the core, I never ever, ever violate the tested concepts of low acidity and high acidity?  I just don’t.  

One of the things that the government recommends is that recipes from prior to 1989 cannot be trusted.  That’s why I say, if you’re listening to this in the future just double check and make sure that the guidelines I’m referring to here today haven’t been updated because, you know, you may have had a recipe book handed down from grandma or something else and it’s loaded with good memories and everything else but it could also be loaded with ways to kill you because they have changed some of the ways and the recommendations.  

Another thing for food safety is never ever reuse your lids and when I say never reuse your lids, if you have some applesauce or something and you pry off the lid and you hear that nice sucking sound because it had a good seal, well, you’re not going to eat the whole jar of applesauce maybe in one sitting so of course you can put the lid back on and put the screw top on as long as you put it in the refrigerator.  

But once that jar of applesauce is empty you need to throw away and never reuse that actual lid.  That sealing compound is not designed for more than one use.  Of course, you want to inspect and replace your jars that appear nicked or otherwise damaged because that’s just not good.

The other things to do are to follow the directions on which process to use.  Figure it out.  Figure out which one you’re supposed to use, the boiling water bath or the pressure canner and stick to it.  

If you have a pressure canner, there’s a gauge on it most likely and you need to make sure the gauge is accurate so look on the internet and you’ll see that there’s – you can go to your extension service in your state or your county and they may be able to test that for you.  

You can also contact the manufacturer, and of course you want to use up to date process times and pressures for the kind of food, the size of the jar, and the method that you’re packing in the jar.  For example, a pumpkin is considered a low acid food but Marissa in episode 2 – and that was news to me – said that new guidelines are saying they’re recommending that home canners not can pumpkin because I guess the density of the pumpkin is different from fruit to fruit.  
Well, it’s not a fruit.  It’s a squash.  Anyway, it’s different from plant to plant and so apparently the government’s recommending that home canners not can pumpkin anymore.

Let’s summarize it.  I think we can bring it on home with a nice summary.

Today, we got introduced to botulism and food poisoning and we learned the concepts of low acid versus high acid and how to watch out for botulism and how to avoid it.  We introduced the concept of a pressure-processed method of canning versus a boiling water bath method of canning.  

The summary then for you, your takeaway for how to keep your canned vegetables and your canned everything safe and keep them spoiling, is number one, use the proper canning techniques.  That means you make sure your food preservation information is always current with up to date scientifically tested guidelines.  

Don’t use outdated publications or cookbooks even if they were handed down to you from trusted family cooks.  As a reminder, you can find in-depth step-by-step directions from these three resources, which are my consistent go-to resources for my home canning listeners.

1.    The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
2.    The USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning.
3.    Your state and county extension service.

In addition, I recommend heartily the Ball Blue Book of Preserving and also I will give you links to the CDC stuff on botulism.  

So number one, we use proper canning techniques.  

Number two, we use the right equipment for the kind of foods that you are canning, which means you always use a pressure canner when called for, you remember that pressure canning is the only recommended method, the only one for canning vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood.  Now, very quickly, you might say, “Well, aren’t cucumbers a vegetable?  How can I do that without pressure?”  

If you’re pickling your cucumbers, you’re adding vinegar and salt and sugar and that is making it a high acid product, so if the recipe says that and it says you can boil that’s okay because you created a pickled product.  

But what if you were making just green beans and you’re not doing anything like that, then you need to use the pressure method.  Again, pressure canning is the only recommended method for canning vegetables, meat, poultry and seafood.  Pressure canning kills the germ that causes botulism when foods are processed at the correct time and pressure in pressure canners or cookers.  Again, in that particular case the government specifically and exquisitely recommends against using boiling water canners because they will not protect against botulism poisoning.  

Don’t forget.  Next episode, I actually get into detail on the difference between boiling water processing versus pressure processing.  I explain how pressure processing successfully kills the botulism spores and I also give you some signs to look for that can indicate your food has spoiled.  It’s not perfect but it’s a nice foundation and so next episode we’ll get into the details on boiling water bath versus pressure processing and also some things to look for in your jars.  I even have a couple of tips and tricks that actually make it easier and safer for you.  That’ll be coming up.

Have I scared you enough?  I hope not.  I hope I gave you some really solid information on this.  I feel good about doing this session.  It’s been on my mind for a while and I hope that this really helps you out and I hope that this in fact turns out to be your go-to for avoiding botulism, food poisoning and canning safely.  With that, I say be safe, be well.  I’ll see you next time.

Thanks for listening to the Canning Season Podcast at www.canningseason.com.