Food safety advisor warns oven canning method unsafe
Patricia Steiner, an Iowa State University Extension and Outreach nutrition and health specialist and food safety advisor, is warning canning in the oven is not a safe shortcut to preserving food at home.
“Home food preservers have heard of oven canning and are wondering if it is a safe method,” said Steiner, explaining canners have learned about the method from friends and family or on the Internet, where it is being promoted as “quick and easy.”
“Botulism is a big concern,” said Steiner. “We remind them that just because a jar is sealed doesn’t mean the food inside is safe to eat. It takes less heat to seal a jar than it takes to make the contents safe.”
Food “processed” in the oven will not necessarily be heated hot enough or long enough to produce a safe product. Oven regulators might not be very accurate, and the hot air in the oven might not circulate efficiently enough to heat the food in the jars. Dry heat penetrates jars very slowly, plus, canning jars are not designed for dry heat and can explode.
“People spend a great deal of money, time and energy canning food,” said Steiner. “It’s disheartening to tell someone their improperly canned food could make someone they love very sick.”
Steiner said if someone has used the oven-canning method in the past and not gotten sick, “you were fortunate.”
Steiner said canners should use research-based methods and tested recipes for safe home food preservation.
The ISU Extension offers several publications about and recipes for canning on its website www.store.extension.iastate.edu.
Enter the name of the publication in the search box in the upper right corner: Canning Fruits; Canning Vegetables; Canning Fruit Spreads; Canning Pickled Products; Canning and Freezing Tomatoes; Canning Meats, Poultry, Wild Game and Fish; and Freezing Fruits and Vegetables.
For information, call Steiner at 319-394-9433, the Jefferson County ISU Extension Office at 472-4166 or the ISU Extension Answer Line at 800-262-3804 between 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.