Follow safety tips to preserve summer’s garden bounty

June 13, 2024 | by

Gardeners will see the fruits of their labor as summer approaches, and a lot of those fruits and vegetables will end up in a canning jar.

For first-time or veteran canners alike, it’s important to know how to keep those summer staples safe, says Leah Brooke, Extension food and health specialist with Iowa State University based in southwest Iowa.

She says there are a few key components that must be handled properly for canning to be safe and successful. Those include selecting jars, rings and lids.

“The typical shelf life of a canning jar is around 13 years,” she says. “So you want to handle them carefully and take care of them.”

Brooke says the rings are also reusable, while lids should only be used once.

People are also reading…

For people who plan to use a pressure canner for low-acid foods, Brooke suggests getting the apparatus tested. She says Extension offers testing services for pressure canners, adding there may be a small cost involved with the test.

Brooke says when it comes to ranking produce in terms of popularity, the tomato usually reigns supreme.

“Tomatoes are very popular because they’re easy to grow,” she says. “I think most people like tomato products, whether it’s juice, sauce, salsa or spaghetti sauce.”

Pickles are another popular item in the Midwest, Brooke says, adding gardeners are very good at finding ways to preserve their favorite produce.

She says Extension receives calls quite often on how to can meat, something that’s become more popular in the last few years.

Brooke says for all canners, it’s important to use researched recipes and follow instructions exactly. ISU Extension offers tips and suggestions online, found at

“Canning is a great hobby and a lot of fun,” she says. “I know it’s something many people look forward to every summer.”


View all

view all