What is open kettle canning–and why isn’t it safe? That question arises often as new canners are sometimes confused either by vague memories of how their grandmothers canned or by posts or comments on message boards all over the internet where people still talk about using this method. While I love many old-fashioned ways, reviving former methods of canning isn’t a good idea. We know more now about the science of canning than our grandmothers did. And while they lived to tell about it, that doesn’t mean it was safe and doesn’t mean that sometimes people didn’t get sick from it. Our grandmas did the best they could with the information and guidance that was available at the time. So should we.
Open kettle canning is a method of filling boiling hot jars with boiling hot food then adding the lid and cap. Let the jars sit and cool–and the lid seals. (This is sometimes combined with turning the jar upside down.)
A seal does usually form in this method, so what’s wrong with it? In open kettle canning, the food doesn’t reach a high enough temperature to destroy the molds, yeasts, and other bacterial toxins that can cause illness.
Be safe. Take the extra step of placing your jars in the canner and process them either by a boiling water bath or the pressure method, depending on the type of food, for the time recommended by modern, tested guidelines.
And here’s a great resource for more information on safe canning!
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UPDATE 03/01/11: The winning comment number, drawn by random.org, is #146, Stephanie. Email me at CITRgiveaways(at)yahoo.com with your full name and address for shipping!