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Dates to remember

Today: 4-H Recognition Night, Mandan, 6 p.m.

Saturday: Wear Green Day for 4-H Week

Wednesday: Coffee Time: Nutrition Facts about Coffee, Morton Mandan Public Library, 7 p.m.

Electric pressure cookers are a hot item. A top-five seller during the past holiday season, sales of electric "multicookers" have risen 79 percent in the last 18 months to more than $300 million, according to The NPD Group Inc., a market-research firm.

Fans of electric pressure cookers say they can perform many kitchen functions. But don't plan to do pressure canning in one of these new appliances, cautions the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia. The NCHFP was created in partnership with the U. S. Department of Agriculture to make research-based recommendations for home food preservation, including home canning.

Even if the appliance includes a button or setting for "canning" or "steam canning," the NCHFP does not support making USDA canning recipes in the new electric pressure cookers because not enough research has been done to prove their ability to can food safely. USDA guidelines were developed and tested for stovetop pressure canners that hold four or more quart-size jars, and have not been tested in smaller cookers.

You can't just assume that what works in a 16-quart stovetop pressure canner works in a small electric canner. Doing pressure canning in an electric pressure cooker that has not been verified for safely canning low acid food is not a cooking function, but a public health issue.

Of concern is the ability of the canning process to kill the spores of the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which thrive in moist, low acid environments in the absence of oxygen. The spores are very heat- resistant and can be destroyed only by the right combination of time and temperature. Spores that survive inadequate canning can cause botulism, a serious-and sometimes deadly-illness.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation does not recommend pressure canning with electric multicookers because not enough research has been done on key parts of the food preservation process in those appliances to determine their ability to safely preserve food. See the "Burning Issue: Canning in Electric Multi-Cookers" fact sheet at nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/electric_cookers.html for more information on the research concerns with these small appliances.

For safe and reliable pressure canning of low-acid foods, avoid the new electric multicookers. Instead, choose a standard pressure canner that is large enough to hold at least four quart jars with a weighted or dial gauge to monitor the pressure.

For research-tested recipes go to the NDSU Extension website at www.ag.ndsu.edu/food/food-preservation or call the Morton County Extension office at 701-667-3340. A free pressure gauge check is also available at the county office.

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Vanessa Hoines is an extension agent with NDSU Extension/Morton County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science education and food and nutrition and a master’s degree in child development and family science.

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