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Home canners! A newly revised 1988 Home Canning of Fruits and Vegetables bulletin will be available later this summer, but until that time, copies of all changes have been inserted in the current bulletin in the Utah State University Extension Office in Salt Lake County (2001 South State Street, Room S1200). There are several important changes you should be aware of. New recommendations for canning tomatoes and tomato products have been made by the USDA, and instructions for canning pie fillings have been made available.

The new pie fillings call for "Clear Jel A" as a thickener, rather than cornstarch. Clear Jel A is a modified waxy maize starch. Instant Clear Jel (modified tapioca starch ) and regular cornstarch do not produce as thick a pie filling as Clear Jel A does, especially after you process it in a boiling water bath according to the USDA recommendations. One caution that USU Extension Food Science Specialist Charlotte Brennand suggests is, "Leave more than the 1/2-inch headspace that is called for in the recipe; I left only the 1/2-inch headspace and some of mine ended up bubbling over." Clear Jel A is available at some of the Smith's, Magic Mills, and Back to Basics stores.A pleasant change in the new USDA canning recommendations is that they contain charts in which the altitude adjustment is already calculated for you!

An unpleasant change is obvious as you thumb through the new tomato recommendations and realize that the processing times are much longer. Some tomato varieties are much higher in solids content now, which means they are less watery and more dense. Anytime you have a denser food product, it will take longer for the heat to penetrate through to the center of the bottle - and that's why tomatoes now have a longer processing time. People have already called and asked about certain varieties of tomatoes which they don't think should be classified as "higher solids" varieties; we do not have separate recommendations for each variety of tomato. Since guesswork is never safe in home canning, we must use the new tested recommendations for all varieties of tomatoes.

The traditional raw pack method where you simply slip the skins off the tomatoes and pack them raw into the jars (no liquid added ) calls for a boiling-water bath processing time of 95 minutes (pints and quarts) at 3001-6000 feet altitude. If you want to shorten the processing time and use a pressure canner, pints and quarts processing time if 25 minutes at 13 pounds pressure (4001-6000 feet altitude).

If you go to the hot pack methods where you slip the skins off the tomatoes, quarter them and gently boil them for five minutes before you put them hot into the jars, the boiling water bath processing time is 45 minutes for pints and 55 minutes for quarts (3001-6000 feet altitude); pressure canning time for pints and quarts done the hot pack methods is 15 minutes at 13 pounds pressure.

Tomato juice that is boiling when you pour it into the jars has a boiling water bath processing time of 45 minutes for pints and 50 minutes for quarts (3001-6000 feet altitude); pressure canner time for pints and quarts of tomato juice is 15 minutes at 13 pounds pressure (4001-6000 feet).

As you complete your reading of the new USDA tomatoes section, you will find that acidification of tomatoes is recommended. However, our USU Food Science Specialist Brennand stands by the USU research study that found Utah-grown tomatoes are high acid; thus acidification of Utah-grown tomatoes is optional.Other USDA canning recipes that you can pick up at the USU Extension office include "Tomato and Vegetables Juice Blend," "Mixed Vegetables," and "Reduced Sodium Sweet Pickles."

For home canners who prefer pressure canning fruits rather than water bathing them, there are new pressure canner charts on fruits for you too. For a more complete copy of these changes, drop by the USU Extension Office in Salt Lake County at 2001 South State, S-1200, 468-3170.