Is your canning equipment ready for the summer season?

Now is a great time to check your canning equipment and plan ahead.

Spring has sprung. The temperatures are warming up. If the spring cleaning bug has bitten you, now is a good time to take a look at your canning equipment to get it ready for the upcoming canning season.

Starting with the pressure canner, now is a good time to check the gasket, that helps seal the canner during processing, for any cracks in it. If there are cracks in the gasket or it is stiff as a board, it is time to replace the gasket. The dial gauge needs to be checked yearly to make sure that it is accurate. Contact your local Michigan State University  Extension office for help in having the dial gauge tested. If you have a weighted gauge, just check the gasket to make sure it is flexible. Look through the vent pipe to make sure you can see through it. If you cannot see through it, take a toothpick or a tiny bottle brush and try to push any debris through the hole. Sometimes little spiders like to make webs in the small pipe.

When you change the gasket it is also a good time to order a new safety plug, if the plug did not come with your gasket. The safety plug is located on the top of the lid and looks like a plastic plug with a pin in it. Check the two-piece lids to make sure you have enough for the upcoming canning season. If the rings or some people call the screw bands are rusty, they need to be discarded. New rings/screw bands need to be purchased to replace the rusty ones. New lids need to be purchased every year because they are a one-time use item.

Check the jars for any nicks or cracks. If a jar has nicks or cracks, it could break during processing or it will not seal after processing. Dispose of cracked and nicked jars and purchase new jars if necessary.

With strawberry jam season coming in late June, now would be a good time to purchase fresh pectin to ensure a nice firm gel in the jam or jelly. Always check for a use by date on any pectin. This will help you be prepared for the season.

Michigan State University Extension recommends that you use up-to-date canning recipes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Plan ahead by checking your inventory 

Check your inventory of preserved foods. It is wise to rotate the preserved foods using the first in, first out (FIFO) method. While taking an inventory, check to see what really needs to be preserved this season. If you normally go through 25 quarts of applesauce, and you still have 15 quarts, you will not need to can as much applesauce this year. If you normally can 30 pints of strawberry jam and you still have 25 pints, you probably do not need to can as much strawberry jam this season. An appliance thermometer should be kept in the freezer, to make sure, the temperature is registering 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Go through the freezer to see what needs to be replenished during the upcoming growing season.

Now that you have taken inventory of the preserved foods, you have an idea of what to plant in this year’s garden or purchase from the farmer’s market.

Planning ahead, checking your equipment, and purchasing what you will need, will help take some of the stress out of the upcoming canning season.

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