The History of Canning II: Don’t Mess with Botulism!

I left you last, hanging in canning history with a resurgence of canning in 1970! But we simply must head back to 1915 when Alexander Kerr teamed up with Julius Landsberger. These two gentlemen, along with many other Americans, are why “I LOVE AMERICA!” and its freedom for invention in the environment of capitalism.

Kerr had developed an idea of taking the metal canning lid and permanently attaching a “gasket”, which Landsberger had invented. Running with this idea, Kerr invented the metal disk that had the gasket attached and added the threaded ring. Thus the two-piece canning lid was born and this is what most of us use today.

You gotta get crafty

Now that you’ve all had a quick history lesson on canning, we can get to the real situation at hand- shortage of canning lids. Once COVID-19 hit and Americans seemingly retreated into their homes, it sparked a resurgence of many hobbies and one of them was canning and preserving.

This ignited a large-scale depletion of metal canning lids. Kerr or Ball canning lids, it didn’t matter, the shelves everywhere were wiped clean. Shamefully, there were folks that decided to hoard every box of canning lids they could find. That left those of us who didn’t hoard canning lids in a bit of a bind. Now, what do we do? Enter Harvest Gaurd reusable canning lids!

Now because lots of folks reading this article in the Edgerton Enterprise are Dutch, some would be terribly tempted to try re-using the old canning lids just to save a buck. DO NOT DO THAT! Canning lids are strictly meant for one-time use and you risk potentially poisoning yourself, friends, and family with clostridium botulinum. You can read about it in-depth here.

Clostridium botulinum is an anaerobic, rod-shaped spore-forming bacterium that produces a protein with characteristic neurotoxicity. Under certain conditions, these organisms may grow in foods producing toxin(s). Botulism, a severe form of food poisoning results when the toxin-containing foods are ingested. Although this food illness is rare, its mortality rate is high…

https://www.fda.gov/food/laboratory-methods-food/bam-chapter-17-clostridium-botulinum

Don’t mess with food born botulism

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Food born botulism can be deadly. In 1931, at a quiet family dinner party in North Dakota, twelve people consumed some improperly canned food products and died. Yes, you read that right, D.I.E.D died! But that’s not the only outbreak, in 1977, was the largest outbreak of botulism resulting from the improper canning of jalapenos resulted in fifty-nine folks at a Mexican restaurant becoming ill with botulism. That’s gotta put a sting in their “Pure Michigan” slogan.

Mayo Clinic reports:

Signs and symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin between 12 and 36 hours after the toxin gets into your body. But, depending on how much toxin was consumed, the start of symptoms may range from a few hours to a few days. Signs and symptoms of foodborne botulism include:

Difficulty swallowing or speaking

Dry mouth

Facial weakness on both sides of the face

Blurred or double vision

Drooping eyelids

Trouble breathing

Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramps

Paralysis

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/botulism/symptoms-causes/syc-20370262

The treatment for botulism is with an antitoxin which stops the botulism toxin from doing further damage. Whatever damage has been done to your body/systems generally takes a long time to heal and possibly may never heal. You may need to stay in the hospital or nursing home depending on the severity of the toxins damage.

Now that I’ve hopefully scared the pants off you. Every home economist reading this has given a quick and stern nod- DO NOT RE-USE CANNING LIDS!

Harvest Guard and Tattler

Photo by Michele Bruxvoort

I have two great options for you to try. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any major differences so buddy up with a friend and one of you tries Tattler, and the other Harvest Guard, I personally pick up the Harvest Guard® because my Heritage Cooking Course recommended them and, of course, offered a ten percent discount to members to try them- yep, I’m Dutch.

I will enclose some YouTube videos for you to peruse as well:

I know I am testing the patience of those wanting canning recipes. I promise, next week, I will give you a bunch of great canning recipes. Also, as a little teaser, my pesky childhood neighbor boy Eugene Streekstra, now a grown man with a family, will be sharing some of his best recipes and a sneak peek at life in the wilds of Montana. Stay tuned!

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