Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on November 17, 2011. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Extension equips offices with canner gauge testers
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- All county Extension offices in Mississippi are now equipped to test pressure canner gauges to ensure food safety for home canners.
Paula Threadgill is state program leader for Family and Consumer Sciences with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. She said the economy and the desire to control food quality are reasons more people are canning their own foods.
Threadgill said homegrown produce is usually less expensive than store-bought and provides consumers with a peace of mind knowing what, if any, chemicals were used during the production process. People also like knowing what additives are in the product and being able to control ingredients, such as salt and sugar.
“Whether they are experienced canners or beginners, people often turn to their county Extension office for guidance,” she said. “People who are using pressure canners to preserve food need to know their dial gauges are accurate, and this is a quick and easy way to make sure the equipment is working properly.”
Threadgill said staff members in all 82 Mississippi counties have been trained to test gauges. Extension gauge testers will be calibrated annually to ensure accuracy.
Brent Fountain, associate Extension professor in food science, nutrition and health promotion, said once calibrated, dial gauges should maintain their accuracy for years if they are handled carefully.
“If you know your gauge is off by one or two PSI, you can adjust mentally for the level you need,” he said. “The problem is that if a gauge is off by more than a couple PSI, the quality and safety of the food can be compromised. If the gauge is off by more than two, we recommend the purchase of a new gauge.”
Fountain said weighted pressure gauges, unlike dial gauges, do not need to be calibrated. The instructions for them are not as specific and could result in over-processing, which negatively affects the food quality.
For information on home canning or pressure gauge testing, contact the county Extension office.