There are numerous resources available to the public related to preserving foods at home. Many of them are not safe and may include recipes passed down from previous generations and random internet searches. There is so much information out there now; it’s hard to know which recipes are safe and which ones are questionable.
South Carolina has a robust market for produce, and the trend to use local resources is flourishing. There are numerous opportunities to purchase local fresh foods at markets, roadside stands, and even grocery stores. Preserving these foods while they are at the peak of ripeness is an excellent way to enjoy these products and have them available for use throughout the year.
The primary methods of preserving foods are canning, freezing, and drying. These methods have been used for many years and continue to be studied by food scientists to ensure safety and accuracy. Failure to execute preservation methods properly can pose significant health risks. For example, improper, untested, and unverified canning methods can promote the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that produces a highly toxic poison in low acid foods. Safely preserving food begins with the proper handling of fresh foods and relies on using tested recipes, strictly following instructions, and working with equipment that is in proper operating condition.
The following sources provide research-based information, procedures, and instructions and may be relied upon for up-to-date, safe, and accurate information.
- Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center – http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic
- USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
- National Center for Home Food Preservation at University of Georgia http://nchfp.uga.edu/index.html
- Andress and Harrison, eds. 2006, So Easy to Preserve, 6th Ed. http://setp.uga.edu
- 2015, Ball Blue Book, Guide to Preserving, 37th Ed. http://www.freshpreserving.com/products/canning-kits-and-accessories
- MacRae, Norma, 1996, Canning and Preserving Without Sugar, 4th Ed.
- Freezing and Food Safety, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/freezing-and-food-safety/CT_Index
- DeLong, Deanna, 2006, How to Dry Foods: The Most Complete Guide to Drying Foods at Home, Penguin Group, New York
- University of Montana Extension, Quality for Keeps: Drying Food http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1562
- Extension Service Offices across the United States http://nchfp.uga.edu/links/links_home.html