---------- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.02
  
       Title: Ensuring High-Quality Canned Foods (part 1 of 2)
  Categories: Canning, Information
       Yield: 1 guide
  
  
   Begin with good-quality fresh foods suitable for canning. Quality varies
   among varieties of fruits and vegetables. Many county Extension offices
   can recommend varieties best suited for canning. Examine food carefully
   for freshness and wholesomeness. Discard diseased and moldy food. Trim
   small diseased lesions or spots from food.
   
   Can fruits and vegetables picked from your garden or purchased from
   nearby producers when the products are at their peak of quality-within 6
   to 12 hours after harvest for most vegetables. For best quality,
   apricots, nectarines, peaches, pears, and plums should be ripened 1 or
   more days between harvest and canning. If you must delay the canning of
   other fresh produce, keep it in a shady, cool place.
   
   Fresh home-slaughtered red meats and poultry should be chilled and
   canned without delay. Do not can meat from sickly or diseased animals.
   Ice fish and seafoods after harvest, eviscerate immediately and can them
   within 2 days.
   
   Maintaining Color and Flavor in Canned Food
   
   To maintain good natural color and flavor in stored canned food, you
   must:
   
   * Remove oxygen from food tissues and jars,
   * Quickly destroy the food enzymes,
   * Obtain high jar vacuums and airtight jar seals.
   
   Follow these guidelines to ensure that your canned foods retain optimum
   colors and flavors during processing and storage:
   
   * Use only high-quality foods which are at the proper maturity and are
   free of diseases and bruises.
   
   * Use the hot-pack method, especially with acid foods to be processed
   in boiling water
   
   * Don't unnecessarily expose prepared foods to air. Can them as soon as
   possible.
   
   * While preparing a canner load of jars, keep peeled, halved,
   quartered, sliced, or diced apples, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and
   pears in a solution of 3 grams (3,000 milligrams) ascorbic acid to 1
   gallon of cold water. This procedure is also useful in maintaining the
   natural color of mushrooms and potatoes, and for preventing stem-end
   discoloration in cherries and grapes. You can get ascorbic acid in
   several forms:
   
    ** Pure powdered form--seasonally available among canners' supplies
       in supermarkets. One level teaspoon of pure powder weighs about 3
       grams. Use 1 teaspoon per gallon of water as a treatment solution.
   
    ** Vitamin C tablets--economical and available year-round in many
       stores. Buy 500-milligram tablets; crush and dissolve six tablets per
       gallon of water as a treatment solution.
   
    ** Commercially prepared mixes of ascorbic and citric
       acid--seasonally available among canners' supplies in
       supermarkets. Sometimes citric acid powder is sold in
       supermarkets, but it is less effective in controlling
       discoloration. If you choose to use these products, follow the
       manufacturer’s directions.
   
   * Fill hot foods into jars and adjust headspace as specified in recipes.
   
   * Tighten screw bands securely, but if you are especially strong, not
   as tightly as possible.
   
   * Process and cool jars.
   
   * Store the jars in a relatively cool, dark place, preferably between
     50 degrees and 70 degrees F.
   
   * Can no more food than you will use within a year.
   
   ===========================================================
   * USDA Agriculture Information Bulletin No. 539 (rev. 1994)
   * Meal-Master format courtesy of Karen Mintzias
  
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