Was Grandma wrong when it comes to canning snap beans?

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- If you are trying to eat nutritiously this winter, you can't go wrong with snap beans. Also known as string beans, these vegetables are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K and calcium, just to name a few of their many nutrients. Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences makes preserving these powerful sources of vitamins and minerals a "snap" with its booklet, "Let's Preserve: Snap Beans." 

Produced by the Department of Food Science, the booklet is part of the 14-publication "Let's Preserve" series, which provides advice on how to safely can, freeze and preserve fruits and vegetables. The series -- found online at http://foodsafety.cas.psu.edu/lets_preserve.html -- provides instructions in a simple, recipe-style format that takes the guesswork out of food preservation.
"Let's Preserve: Snap Beans" emphasizesthe use of a pressure cooker to can snap beans.The most serious threat for canners is the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which may cause botulism, a deadly form of food poisoning. Immersing canning and lids in boiling water does not completely destroy the bacterial spores that cause botulism, which are much more heat-resistant than cells, so canners should be wary of old family canning recipes, said food safety specialist Martin Bucknavage.
"While your grandmother might have used the oven or a boiling-water bath to can beans, this practice is dangerous because it may lead to botulism," said food safety specialist Martin Bucknavage. "When canning low-acid foods, you need to use a pressure cooker."
The booklet includes a chart showing processing times according to pressure cooker type and altitude. It also recommends using filled, crisp bean pods and avoiding pods that are diseased or rusty. Additional information about preserving homegrown fruits and vegetables is available by contacting your local Penn State Cooperative Extension office or by visiting the Penn State Food Safety Web site at http://foodsafety.cas.psu.edu.  
Single copies of "Let's Preserve: Snap Beans" can be obtained free of charge by Pennsylvania residents through county Penn State Cooperative Extension offices, or by contacting the College of Agricultural Sciences Publications Distribution Center at (814) 865-6713 or by e-mail at AgPubsDist@psu.edu. For cost information on out-of-state or bulk orders, contact the Publications Distribution Center. The publication also is available on the Web at http://foodsafety.cas.psu.edu/lets_preserve.html.


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Last Updated March 19, 2009