Canning, Freezing, Drying Harvesting, Cold Storage

The Produce Preservation Program offers fun, hands on workshops and resources to teach people how to safely preserve home grown and locally available fruits and vegetables for year round enjoyment.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to learn is to ask questions ... we'll do our best to provide answers ...  check our our resource section as well.

Q. Why do we have to Pressure Can Salmon?

A. It’s safer. Salmon, other fish, meat and most vegetables are low-acid foods that can be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria like Clostridium botulinum spores. Scientists have discovered that these spores can only be destroyed at temperatures higher than the boiling point of water. It doesn’t matter how long you boil a hot water bath - the temperature will never get higher than the boiling point of water, 100 C. The toxin produced by C. Botulinum is undetectable, so there is no way of knowing if it is there or not. So while most of the time a hot water bath has worked for canning salmon there is a chance that you, or someone you feed, could get deadly botulism poisoning – do you want to take that chance?

A pressure canner creates pressure as water boils and is converted to steam in a closed vessel. The steam cannot escape and pressure and temperature increase within the canner. It is only with a pressure canner that you can achieve the temperature of 118 C required to kill the types of bacteria which may be present in fish, particularly the Clostridiens which is responsible for deadly botulism poisoning. So when you can salmon or any low-acid food – use a pressure canner – it’s safer!

Another way to look at it

We never used to wear seatbelts. Most of the time we got where we wanted to go safely, but sometimes we didn’t. Research found that wearing seatbelts was safer and in 1984 it became mandatory to wear seatbelts in British Columbia. Today it is automatic, when you get in your vehicle, you buckle up because it’s safer ... Hopefully one day it will be automatic, when you can salmon, you use a pressure canner...

Q. Can I reuse canning lids?

A. No. Reused lids may be damaged and not form a seal. Why waste your time, do all the work of canning food and risk that your jars don’t seal.

Q. Why don’t we boil canning lids anymore?

A. How you prepare canning (SNAP) lids depends on the manufacturer’s directions. There are many different brands of canning lids on the market. Bernardin recommends against boiling lids as this can cause the enamel to get scratched. They recommend bringing a pot of water to a boil, turning the heat off and placing the lids in the pot until you are ready to use them. A short video on how to prepare Bernardin lids is at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLQbuulYKPo

Q. Why do you need to heat lids for canning salmon when everything else is room temperature?

A. You could say it is to soften the sealing compound. In actual fact, heating the lids in this instance is probably not required but it is a good idea from the standpoint of cleanliness. Even though pressure canning will destroy any bacteria that might have collected on the lids, it is always a good idea to first rinse or heat all containers that touch edible food.

Q. Why are the jars not heated for salmon canning?

A. Most salmon is refrigerated and/or frozen prior to canning and therefore is cold. You don’t want to be causing thermal shock to the jars by placing cold food in a hot jar. Pressure canning will destroy any bacteria that may be present.

Q. How long can new SNAP lids last in a cupboard? Is there a best before date on the snap lids?

A. SNAP lids have a shelf life of about 5 years. There is no date on the SNAP lids – the numbers refer to manufacturing details. Q. Why use lemon juice over vinegar when canning tomatoes? A. Lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar. You need to use nearly twice as much vinegar to achieve the desired level of acidity in foods and that much vinegar might adversely affect flavour.