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Two to three hours in a water bath will do anything

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Okay, confession time: I just “lost it” on a blog reader. Forgive me as I rant a bit.

Eleven years ago, I put up a post called “The Invincible Canner” which chronicled my canning education, specifically how I got knocked off the self-built “invincible canner” pedestal I had put myself on, and learned some humility. Go on, go read that post. I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, you may have noticed that post received a lot of comments – nearly 100. It was a lively discussion from many people interested in canning, both newbies and experienced.

And it’s still getting comments. One came in yesterday afternoon as follows:

“I find this all so funny since the Amish have never used pressure canners, but can meat, milk, eggs and pasta all with water bath canners! Cleanliness and two to three hours in a water bath will do anything. I’ve been doing it myself as well. Haven’t lost anyone to botulism yet!”

And I confess … I lost it. No matter how much you try to educate someone about something as critical as food safety, they’ll still dismiss it – tra la la – as immaterial. “Two to three hours in a water bath will do anything.” NO IT WON’T. But I guess this person thinks they’re special and the laws of science don’t apply to them.

“Just let it go,” Don suggested when I read the comment out loud to him. But I can’t. I simply cannot stand by and watch someone promote something as unsafe as water-bath canning low-acid foods.

So I replied. Here’s what I wrote:

“Well, if you’re going to completely disregard the proven science behind canning, I suppose there isn’t a lot I can do to change your mind. It’s like driving without a seat belt; most of the time you’ll be fine … until you’re not. Personally I don’t want to play Russian roulette with the safety of my canned food, so I’ll continue to follow USDA guidelines for safe canning procedures.“Oh, regarding the Amish: A few years ago, my daughter and I were in Pennsylvania and visited a place called Kettle Kitchen Village which sold tons of Amish-canned foods. I saw many Amish women working in the kitchen facility, preparing the various commodities for canning. The food was all canned safely in pressure canners because they would not have been able to sell to the public otherwise. Do you really think they could have gotten away with canning those food products in a water bath? Of course not, BECAUSE IT’S NOT SAFE.“Yes, many Amish can low-acid foods in water baths in their home kitchens. My admiration for the Amish is second to none, but that doesn’t mean it’s a safe practice. Even two to three hours in a water bath won’t kill botulism spores. It’s not the length of time that matters; it’s also the temperature. Botulism spores aren’t killed at 212F; they require temperatures of 240-250F, which can only be achieved in a high-pressure environment.“Good luck with your canning; you’re going to need it.”

I’m sorry if I came across as snarky … but honestly, what else could I do? Let it go? It was clear this person had read all the comments and still came away unconvinced about the need for a pressure canner.

Some people are unteachable. I doubt my snark will make a difference, but at least I tried.

Okay, rant over.


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    • MH195795

      Water bath is the only way I can. I still have green beans that I canned at least 4 years ago, water bath method. Still sealed and still good. 4 to 5 hours in water bath full boil works for me.

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