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A cautionary note to those who took up home canning

Plenty of people have taken on new hobbies this past spring and summer, spurred by uncertainties over the coronavirus pandemic.

Backyard gardening became popular again, and the past month has seen the bounty of the season being harvested for meals and preservation.

Evidence of that may be found in a shortage of home canning supplies on local store shelves — and on other store shelves nationwide, according to reports.

We wonder, though, about the experience, or lack thereof, of those engaging in canning fruits and vegetables.

There are risks involved in not preparing equipment and processing packed jars properly.

Home canning is an excellent way to preserve garden produce, but it may be risky if not done correctly and safely, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns.

The illness comes in the form of botulism, which can affect the nerves and cause paralysis or even death.

The best way to prevent foodborne botulism is by carefully following instructions for safe home canning, the CDC recommends.

There are some good sources out there to learn about home canning, including the local Penn State Extension Office or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Complete Guide to Home Canning.

However you learn this new hobby, please, take the steps seriously. Failure to properly sterlize equipment or process your goods could be deadly.

And if there is any doubt about whether the safety guidelines have been followed properly, don’t take any chances.

Some warning signs include cracked jars, leaks and bulges in lids, as well as discoloration of the food or a foul smell.

As the CDC warns, when in doubt, throw it out!

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