It’s exciting how local gardens are now really producing. If your garden is producing more than you need, here’s a thought: Drop off extra produce at the La Plata County Fairgrounds between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sept. 14, 15 or 16 for our second annual Produce Bounty.
Colorado State University Extension agents and numerous volunteers sort and separate the produce to make it available for the commodity foods distribution sponsored by Durango Food Bank on Sept. 17. Fresh, locally grown produce is such a treat. Last year, we were able to share an amazing amount of fresh produce with more than 400 residents with their commodity foods.
Last year, CSU Extension agents, Master Gardener volunteers, community volunteers and Fort Lewis College students spent significant hours sorting, packaging, distributing and discussing produce ideas and its benefits with a temporarily financially strapped population.
BPA and canning lids
Lately, there has been discussion about a reusable canning lid professing to contain no BPA (Bisphenol-A). They have been around since the ’70s, yet no independent research has been done with the lids to know if claims hold up. The three-piece lid consists of a rubber ring, plastic top and screw ring. Be aware that there is no way to know when the rubber ring is no longer usable. If you don’t get it perfectly placed, you might not have a good seal. Because the lids are firm plastic, there won’t be a “plinck” telling you the vacuum kicked in.
Instead of headspace recommendations of U.S. Department of Agriculture-tested recipes, 1-inch head space is necessary for sufficient vacuum seal. Center the plastic lid on the jar and hold it in place while tightening the metal band, then turn back one-quarter inch to allow venting during processing. After processing, retighten the band firmly immediately upon removal from the canner.
Though food safety of the canning process is not affected by lid choice alone, be careful when choosing lids other than a two-piece metal lid. Dr. Elizabeth Andress, director of the National Center for Home Food Preservation, says you should ask:
Does the sealing surface of the lid match the sealing surface of the jar to provide a high-quality vacuum seal time after time?
Does the lid allow for proper venting of headspace gases during processing? Venting during processing time allows removal of air and oxygen to create a high quality vacuum seal.
Is there a clear way to know a jar has a true vacuum seal after it cools?
Does the lid screw down onto the jar threads and sit on the jar neck properly to assure that consistent vacuum seals form?
Jarden products (Ball, Kerr and Golden Harvest lids) are manufactured with BPA plastic well within “safe exposure” range. Because home processed foods have headspace and are stored upright, exposure to the lid is minimized. For information about BPA, check out http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064437.htm.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 247-4355. Wendy Rice is family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office.