If you are a home canner, this is the time of year to get your equipment and supplies out and inspect them so you are ready when the produce is. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is your source for current recommendations and methods for home food preservation.

Proper equipment that’s in good condition is required for safe, high-quality home canned food. A pressure canner is essential for canning low-acid vegetables, meats, fish and poultry. There are two basic types of pressure canners, one has a metal weighted gauge and the other has a dial gauge to indicate the pressure inside the canner. It is important to have the dial gauge canners tested every year for accuracy. If you have a dial gauge pressure canner and want to make sure you are getting the safest product from your efforts, simply schedule a free test of your dial pressure gauge by calling the Crawford County Extension office at 479-474-5286.

A boiling water canner is needed for canning other foods such as fruits, pickles, jellies and jams. The canner should be deep enough to allow at least one or two inches of water to boil over the tops of the jars. Both types of canners should have a rack in the bottom to keep jars from touching the bottom of the canner.

Also a must, is reliable, up-to-date canning instructions/recipes. Grandmother’s favorite recipe may not be up to date with current safe canning recommendations. You should never even use Extension or USDA recipes for canning that are more than five years old. Sources for reliable information, in addition to the county extension office, are the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation and the most recently revised edition of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, also available on line. Current edition books and publications of major canning supplies are also reliable.

Planning ahead can save you time, money, and frustration with home canning. Make it a safe, happy, successful canning season by getting prepared before your harvest is ready.