Are you an avid canner or someone who’s starting out? Whether you’ve been preserving your own food for a long or short period, there’s still more to learn.
For instance, are you aware there are some foods which aren’t suitable for canning? You can preserve them using other preservation methods.
I’d like to share which foods are off limits for canning, to help you have a safer canning experience. Here is a list of what not to can, all the foods you shouldn’t preserve by canning:
What Not to Can
When you choose to can food, don’t let fats be on your list. Foods which fall into this category are:
Foods which contain a significant amount of fat tend to turn rancid faster than other shelf-stable foods.
Also, they’re thicker in consistency. This makes it difficult for the heat during the canning process to penetrate through every layer.
Therefore, it leaves room for bacteria to form in the food, which could lead to botulism and mold contamination.
Another food group you should avoid is dairy. I’ve heard people express how they’ve safely canned milk from their livestock.
Though some do it, the process still isn’t recommended. Dairy foods tend to turn rancid faster than other shelf-stable foods.
They also are of thicker consistency which leads to concerns of bacteria forming in the jar and not being thoroughly sterilized during the preserving process because of the heat’s inability to get through each layer.
An example of dairy products you should avoid canning are:
Since grains are drier and usually less oily, it may be an assumption they’re safe to can. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Canning grains can be counterproductive.
The first issue with canning grains is when you heat them, you destroy the nutrients inside them and also drastically shorten their lifespan.
In heating them to preserve, they’ll turn rancid faster and last for a lesser amount of time.
The other issue with canning grains is they don’t contain heat well. Therefore, the inner part of the grains won’t get hot enough to kill bacteria.
This is dangerous because bacteria and mold spores can hide in the deeper layers of the food and cause you to get sick when ingested.
Foods which fall into the category for grains are:
- Pie dough
Some of the foods listed above such as noodles, pasta, bread, and crackers will break down quicker under the heat and turn to an inedible mush. Therefore, defeating the purpose of preserving the food as well.
Foods which fall under this category are:
These are foods which you would add to a variety of recipes to give them a thicker consistency. The problem with canning recipes with these foods already included is they turn under the extreme heat of processing.
Therefore, when you make a syrup, it’s recommended to leave it at a runnier consistency. Once it’s finished, preserve it.
When you’re ready to enjoy the product, open the can, pour it into a sauce pan, and add any thickener you desire until it reaches the right consistency for your taste.
By doing this, it keeps the integrity of your food and still has a way of being served with the proper thickness.
5. These Vegetables
Canning vegetables seem to be the rational thing to do. It’s a great way to preserve the abundance of your harvest and also have fresh veggies to enjoy during the colder months.
But did you know there are certain vegetables which shouldn’t be canned? The vegetables you should avoid canning are:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Summer Squash
- Mashed Potatoes
Some foods such as Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, summer squash, and olives can be preserved via canning if pickled.
However, if the foods aren’t pickled, they’ll begin to turn to a mushy consistency and change colors as well.
Therefore, if you’d like to can vegetables and keep their integrity, you must know which vegetables can handle the process of canning and which are better off pickled.
You may not have expected to see nuts on the list of foods you shouldn’t be preserving via canning. However, they made the cut.
Nuts may seem sturdy enough to hold up under the pressure of canning, but their problem isn’t with sturdiness.
Instead, it’s about the coating on the outside of nuts. They have an outer layer of oil on them. Therefore, it puts them in the same category of fats.
The oily coating is too thick. This makes it difficult for the process of canning to penetrate deep enough to destroy all bacterial and mold spores.
Most people assume they can see when their canned goods have turned.
In some cases, you can. However, botulism is one of the cases where it’s difficult to spot. You won’t know it was in your canned goods until you begin to feel ill.
Therefore, when it’s recommended not to preserve food via canning because there’s room for botulism to hide, you should take the advice and not run the risk of becoming ill.
7. Refried Beans
Refried beans shouldn’t be processed by canning. They have a thicker consistency. This makes it difficult to guarantee all of the mold and bacteria spores have been killed off during the canning process.
Therefore, it’s not recommended to preserve them through canning. If you love refried beans, consider cooking a bunch of beans in the crock pot and freeze them.
You can pull them out of the freezer and make refried beans as you desire them. It may not be as simple as opening a jar, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Purees fall into a similar category as refried beans. The consistency makes them a danger for home canning.
Again, there’s no guarantee all mold and bacteria spores are killed off during the heating process because of how thick purees can be.
It’s a better idea to freeze whatever vegetable you’re making purees from for later use, or you can preserve the vegetables in larger chunks by canning. This should help the veggies keep their shape during the process.
9. Pickled Eggs
People around my area can pickled eggs all the time. I want to make this clear, you may be an avid canner and can many of the items on this list.
There are even recipes for canning some of these items. The reason they make this list is that the recipes haven’t been proven 100% effective in killing off bacteria or allowing the food to hold its shape after canning.
Pickled eggs make this list because they’re thick. Again, thickness makes it hard for the heat to penetrate every level of the food the way it needs in order to kill off bacteria and mold spores.
Therefore, we don’t recommend pickling eggs in your home canner.
The final item which made the list is a shocking revelation for many, I’m sure. You can purchase canned meat from grocery store shelves.
However, commercial canners have abilities most home canners don’t. Therefore, because of the heating limitations of home canners, and the oily outer casing of most meat or fish, it isn’t recommended to preserve these items in a jar at home.
The oil makes it difficult for the heat to penetrate enough to make sure all bacteria and mold have disintegrated.
You may have canned these foods on your own and been lucky not to become ill. Keep these pointers in mind, because it may make you reconsider which foods you preserve at home.
Also, if you do continue to preserve foods from this list by canning, keep this information tucked away in the event you do get sick.
Part of beating botulism poisoning is by early detection and early treatment. I’m a huge advocate for home canning, and it’s a hobby I love.
But I also know how important it is to be safe about preserving foods. Knowledge can be a powerful tool whether it be out in the world or within the confines of your kitchen.
Therefore, we hope this list of what not to can will shine a little light on a few facts you may not have been aware of and give you the information you need to become a more knowledgeable canner in the future.