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Home Canning- Recipes Necessary?

Question for all you home canners...I was reading up about this on the internet, and the site said that you really have to use a tested recipe if your going to can (jar) something yourself. This would kindof defeat the purpose for me, since I was interested in preserving some homemade chutneys, sauces and barbecue sauces that I make. Is there any way around this? Can I test the acidity myself?

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  1. No, there really isn't, not without experience and/or at least somewhat expensive equipment (figure $60 minimum for a tolerably accurate pH tester, if you make an allowance for the tester's stated accuracy; a lot more than $60 if you want to be able to cut it close.)

    With experience, or at least extensive and careful reading, you could eyeball-compare your recipes to proven ones, but that could be risky for a beginner.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MikeG

      Well said. It's not worth taking a chance when the toxins in question can be odorless and colorless.

      Meanwhile, I fully appreciate mellycook's frustration. I've been trying to find a way to certify that my ratatouille would be safe in the cold months when tomatoes are so awful, but until I get absolute assurance, we'll eat it all summer and look forward to it all winter.

      Mellycooks, have you gone to a site with preserving recipes and looked for a recipe that's similar to what you have in mind?

      1. re: rainey

        I haven't really searched too much yet...I'm so attached to some of my recipes that I might be let down. I'd almost rather find totally different recipes that apeal to me.

    2. Or, you could just pressure can anything that seems at all questionable and not worry about the details. For most of the sort of thing you mention, the additional heat probably isn't going to make much of a difference since they're heavily cooked to begin with.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MikeG

        Pressure canning would make it safe regardless? Is that a big equipment purchase?

      2. I'm no expert but based on the items you've mentioned, I'd just go ahead and process them and put them up.
        From what I understand, the general rule is, you can do it as long as it hasn't got any meat protien in it. If it does, it's a different process.
        I've done home made bbq sauce without even thinking about it.
        A high sugar content will help with the preservation as well.

        I'm sure someone will shoot me down though.

        DT

        1. NO! (wish I could use bigger type!)

          I can't think of a single "vegetable" that is safe to can in boiling water. Fruit, yes. They are "high acid." Vegetables, no, they are "low acid" and provide a great breeding ground for the botulism bacteria that is rife on agricultural producs. (The spores don't hurt us at all, you would never notice them.)

          The BBQ sauce might be OK if there isn't too much stuff like onion and there's a fair amount of vinegar. But the ratatouille is definitely out unless you have a specific, safe recipe (and I'm not at all sure that's possible.) Unspecified "sauces" is an open question.

          In this case, fruits and vegs have their usual culinary, not botanical, meaning.

          1. I make a lot of chutneys, mostly fruit-based with a fair amount of vinegar and sugar. I have hot-processed these and eaten them months after they were first made. I'm quite sure the vinegar and sugar make them safe.