By Cindy Denby
During the summer and fall seasons, a variety of fruits and vegetables are at peak harvest in Michigan. Fresh and colorful produce line the aisles of local grocery stores and overflow from vendor carts at community farmers' markets. By the end of October, most farmers' markets will close and the quality of produce in supermarkets will decline.
Through practice of canning, Michigan residents can act now to preserve fruits and vegetables from the peak harvest season. Canning preserves fruits and vegetables by removing a large percentage of water, which makes them perishable. After water is removed from the produce, acids such as lemon juice and vinegar are added to preserve freshness; salts, spices and sugars are also added to provide additional flavor.
According to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), foodborne illnesses can be avoided by following safe and proper canning procedures and safe purchasing of canned food items. Proper canning practices include carefully selecting and washing fresh food, using acceptable jars and self-sealing lids, and processing jars in a boiling-water or pressure canner for the correct period of time.
Although the end of October marks the end of the peak harvest season, canning provides a way for Michigan residents to enjoy in-season produce throughout the colder months. Safe canning can be practiced by following guidelines recommended by the MDARD at www.michigan.gov/mdard.
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