Renee Sweers. (ISU photo)

An Iowa State University Extension specialist says canning or freezing home grown fruits and vegetables has become more popular in the last 10 years — and that picked up during the pandemic and is continuing now with higher food prices.

Food specialist Renee Sweers says it’s important to preserve your produce using updated techniques. “People tend to think that they should just fall back and do things, the way that their grandparents did or the way you know, somebody in their family in the past did it. And that might not always be the safest method,” Sweers says. “I think it’s kind of hard for people to understand, food preservation has been around for such a long time, kind of hard for people to understand that it really is based on science.”

She says some cooking methods aren’t the best and safest anymore. “We don’t use the what they used to call open kettle canning, where you just put the hot food in a hot jar and just put the lid on it. There’s no processing, I mean, that is an old process that is no longer considered safe,” she says.

Some of the new technology is also not safe for canning foods — including the pressure cookers that you plug in. “Yes, we would do pressure canning in a pressure canner — but the instant pots and some of those types of electrical devices for pressure cooking are not to be used for canning,” Sweers says.

And while you can get some helpful information online — she says there is also a lot of information out there that isn’t correct. “We usually say, you know, if you come to our website, if you come to Iowa State University Extension Outreach, that’s going to be a reliable source, and really any of the extension services in the country –so whether you’re using Nebraska, or Kansas or Illinois or whatever, they should have good, reliable information,” according to Sweers.

She says one other source that they always recommend is the National Center for Home Food Preservation.