Don’t try to be Rachel Ray if you’re canning

Home food preservation is seeing a resurgence across North America. Some of this is due to economics, some is linked to eating local (and others are just curious what all the buzz is about). Earlier this year seed companies reported increases in home garden sales (potentially leading to more canning) and North Carolina extension agents have told me that canning inquiries have almost doubled over previous years.

I’ve even been challenged to a pickle making throw-down (more on that later).

The New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today have all recently covered home food preservation. My contribution to the coverage was reinforcing the importance of following tested recipes (and not messing around with them). Kim Painter of USA Today used my money-shot quote:

"This is one area where you don’t want to be Rachael Ray. You don’t want to add your flair" to recipes and techniques backed by good science and rigorous testing, says Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University.

Keep your flair out of home food preservation and stick to methods that have been evaluated for safety.

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.