Preserving food safely

People have been preserving food since the late 1700's. Canning is a tradition that's very common in many homes around the world, although it's not a common practice in South Africa. I'm not sure why someone decided to call it canning, when the food is preserved in jars. I suppose jarring doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Canning became so intriguing to me when I started learning more about nutrition. I'm trying to eliminate processed foods from my diet, but I don't have the time to make sauces from scratch every day. So I was thrilled to bits when my friend Lily Gallo explained to me how she cans all her sauces to make her dinner prep a breeze.

There are various methods that can be used, but I love hers as it's simple. These foods will last safely in your fridge for 2-6 months. We don't recommend using this method to store food for longer periods of time. Your jars need to be stored in the fridge after they have fully cooled down if you live in a warm climate. If it’s not stored in fridge, they must be in a cool dry storage area away from light.

Firstly, you need to buy 'mason' jars. There are different brands, but basically it is a glass jar with a lid and a band, and the package will mention for home canning/preserving. You can find the jars at Ace Hardware in Dubai.

The jars will not be sterilized when you buy them. It's easy to sterilize the jars. Run them through the hottest cycle in the dishwasher just before you are about to use them. Make sure the jars aren't touching each other so that they can be properly cleaned. The lids can be put in the dishwasher too, or soaked in a bowl of boiling water for several minutes.

Prepare your sauces/food for the jars and have your jars ready next to you. You need to work quickly and pour the boiling hot sauces/food into the jars immediately after cooking. Use the funnel to avoid spilling any contents on the rim of the jar as this can cause bacteria to grow. You will need to fill the jars to just below the rim, allowing a few millimeters for the jar to seal.

Vegetables, meat, fish and soup stocks should be processed in a pressure canner for safety. Improper storage of the food can result in food poisoning. Do not taste the food if it has dis-coloured or has a smell to it. Rather throw it away.

You will know if your jar has sealed when you hear a pop sound from the lid. It will take a few minutes to pop. You can also tap the lid after the jar is completely cooled. If you can press the lid in, then it is not sealed and you must consume the food within the next 3 days.

You can reuse your purpose-made glass jars and screw bands, as long as they're in good condition and free of rust and dents.

Thanks so much Lily for teaching us how to do this! Happy canning friends.

To our health and happiness,

Jacqui xx

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