Four Things That Are Not Safe To Can At Home

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There are four things that are not safe to can at home. Period. Lately, I have been concerned with articles on Facebook or blogs with posts stating you can preserve certain foods at home that I knew were not safe to can. Then I started getting emails and Facebook PM’s asking me if this post or that post was accurate.

In my gut, I knew some of the foods weren’t safe to can. So I went to the experts to confirm my thoughts. I am not a newbie to canning. I have been safely canning my foods per Utah State Extension service guidelines for over 50 years. Please note, I do not work for the USDA and I’m not paid by them to write about this.

I also have my Master Preserver Canning Certificate via the USU through the USDA training courses. This is an updated article whereas I added milk to my list. I am seeing a lot of people canning milk and cream. These are unsafe to can at home because of the fat in them.

Now, you might say, “I learned how to “can” them from my friend (or whoever) and my jars look great”. They may even taste okay. But here’s the clincher, you don’t know what bacteria is lurking inside those jars. Please, please, please do not risk the health of your family by canning these higher risk food items.

Carolyn (my instructor) mentioned the reason certain foods are not listed on your local state canning extension lists is that they have not been proven safe to preserve via our home canning process. Please order a USDA Canning Guide or the Ball Canning Guide to learn the safest techniques.

Four Things We Cannot Can

Four Foods Not Safe To Can At Home:

1. Never Can Eggs

I want to bring this issue to everyone’s attention because eggs are not safe to can at home. Bacteria will grow and you may not even see it in the jars when eggs are canned at home. Now, I am not talking about pickled eggs (which are safe for the refrigerator for a short period of time only).

Please do not can eggs. Call your local extension service if you still think you can “can” your own eggs. If the food item you have a question about canning yourself isn’t listed on your local extension service it is more than likely unsafe to process at home.

Yes, you can freeze eggs but personally, I don’t want to fill my freezer with eggs. The texture will not be the same with frozen eggs but they would work for baking. I get nervous about the electricity going out. I can only imagine trying to get rid of those thawed eggs in a power outage.

I love reading about people having chickens and gathering eggs from their chicken coops. I have heard good stories from people who are learning to raise chickens who have the land and families working together as a team. I have also heard they have excess eggs and want to know what to do with all those eggs.

Let’s get real here, please save money and buy some professionally processed eggs in #10 cans for long term storage needs. Or in packages from a reputable company. I only buy Ova Easy Eggs for my long-term storage. They are real eggs, you can scramble them, make a frittata, quiche or bake with them.

I have a few #10 cans of powdered eggs, but I must say, they do not taste like eggs when cooked in a frying pan, even with butter. They will be fine for baking muffins, cakes, pancakes or bread. These are the only ones I like to buy because they taste just like eggs out of a carton: OvaEasy Powdered Whole Eggs – Case (12 x 4.5 oz Bags)

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2. Never Can Bacon

There is too much fat in bacon to make it safe for canning at home. I am not a scientist or microbiologist to be able to explain correctly the significance of the bacteria that grows in bacon if you try canning it at home. I realize some people have canned bacon for years and swear by its safety.

Here again, we don’t know what’s lurking in our home canned bacon. I highly recommend you do not can bacon at home. Here’s the deal, I love bacon. Doesn’t everything taste better with bacon in it? My husband and I have been eating BLT’s for years with the tomatoes out of our garden.

The only bacon that’s on my food storage shelves is four cans of professionally processed cooked Yoder’s Bacon. They will be used for a treat if we are without power for weeks. It’s way too expensive per pound to store much more.

I bought six cans of the canned bacon from Yoder’s. I taught a class with one can and did a post with the other can. I compared the price of precooked bacon from Costco and one can of Yoder’s: Yoder’s Bacon & Ova Easy Eggs by Food Storage Moms.

Yes, I freeze a few packages of bacon when it goes on sale. I thaw it in the refrigerator and bake it in the oven the next day. I line a cookie sheet with foil and spread the bacon out in single layers as well as I can. I bake the bacon at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes depending on how crispy it gets in that time period.

I love that my stovetop stays clean by baking the bacon in the oven. I learned this from my daughter and her husband. It’s so much easier. Please note *I buy very thick bacon from a meat butcher or Costco so if your bacon is thinner, cut the time in half.  Yoder’s bacon: Yoders Canned Fully Cooked Bacon

3. Never Can Butter

Now let’s talk about butter. It is not safe to can at home either. Maybe you had a friend show you how to can it. Like bacon, butter has way too much fat in it to safely can it at home. Here again, we don’t know what bacteria may be growing in those jars.

I watch for butter to go on sale and fill my freezer with as many as my budget will allow. I also bought some powdered butter that tastes awful. I get the dry heaves just thinking about the smell of it. One website states their powdered butter “tastes like Land O’Lakes butter.” No, it doesn’t, I have tried them all. They are fine for baking.

This is a statement I was given from the USU Extension Service on a sheet of paper listing food to NOT store:

“Home Canned Butter, especially unsalted butter has NO protection from botulism, salted home canned butter has no science-based process to can safely. Heating the jars does sterilize it, but it will NOT kill any botulism spores. When you remove the oxygen from the jar, it allows for the potential growth of botulism spores”.

I highly recommend this brand of canned butter for your food storage: Red Feather PURE CANNED BUTTER

4. Never Can Milk or Cream:

Here’s the deal with canning milk or cream, it is unsafe to preserve by water bath or pressure canning. The milk and cream have too much fat in them. This is what I found on the USDA website: “Caution: Do not add noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening agents to home canned soups. If dried beans or peas are used, they must be fully rehydrated first”. End of quote.

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In the classes, I took to pass my Master Preserver Canning Certificate we were reminded of these four products I have listed above that they are unsafe to can because we cannot get our pressure canner up to the temperature required to kill off the bacteria. This is why I buy these products from commercial companies that have the equipment to can them safely.

Comments from Readers:

Thanks to Lauralee H. explains how butter was stored in pioneer days:

The Pioneers only made small batches of butter at a time from milking their cow. Then they stored it at room temperature in a butter bell. A ceramic type of dish where they spooned the butter into the top bell part and over the butter poured a small amount of boiled salted water that was cooled over the butter.

Then a plate type bottom was placed on it, and it was turned over quickly and sat down on the counter. That way the salted water was on the bottom of the butter sealing out the air. Each time they needed the butter they poured the water off and used the butter.

Most of them did salt their butter back then when churning it. They tried not to make too much butter at a time, only what they could use up in maybe three days. If they made big batches they were going to do baking that would use it up. I think you can still purchase butter bells.

Thanks to Shelley for this great comment:

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the go-to resource for safe. approved methods and recipes. If I ever have a question this is where I go. I am also a Master Food Preserver through Washington State University and I also rely on our Extension Services to provide information. Please don’t trust the online resources you see as safe. Research first!

Another Linda telling me what her mom did years ago: Hello, great post. My mom was born in 1910. She told me stories of how things were done in Ky for generations. They had cold dairies (called various things) but what it came down to was watch where the river level was at the highest point in the year and go a few feet above this.

You dig out the river bank, shore it up, just like they do in the mines, caves, etc. Milk, eggs, butter was stored. mom said it was very cold even in the summer. Winter temps allowed longer storage thus greater amounts stored. For pitted fruits, a fruit cellar dug into a mountain or wood building covered to be a small hill, etc.

JoEllen: Actually you might have included anything “dairy” as something unsafe to can as well. There’s a crowd out there who advocate water bath canning of extra milk. Hopefully, they will survive their ICU stay…

Please be careful when canning ANY foods at home, but these three we should never can at home. Here’s to safe canning.

Utah State Extension Service: Utah State Extension Service.

My favorite things:

Ball Mason Wide Mouth Quart Jars with Lids and Bands, Set of 12

All American 921 21 Quart Pressure Cooker Canner

Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set, 6 Piece Set

Ball Enamel Water Bath Canner, Including Chrome-Plated Rack and 4-Piece Utensil Set

Ball FreshTech Electric Water Bath Canner, Silver

15 thoughts on “Four Things That Are Not Safe To Can At Home

  • February 24, 2019 at 9:38 am

    I understand you’re saying buy commercially processed butter, eggs, bacon and don’t can milk or cream for longest life. Now I know you dehydrate a lot of your food and I have seen/heard of turkey jerky being made in one of those Ronco food dehydrators on one of their late night commercials. Not too long ago, I recall finding out it’s not considered safe to make turkey jerky.
    They say salting and smoking is easy enough to do, but I don’t know how to do that safely, if there are even any government guidelines and that excess salt isn’t healthy.
    So is it safe to dehydrate meats and can we make powdered or dehydrated eggs assuming we have an over abundance of any fresh eggs down the road? I’ve mentioned to you several times I”d like to get into drying food (Making the most out of fruits and vegetables when fresh and in season) and I think I talked my father into it, so I have to strike while the iron is hot. LOL.

    • February 24, 2019 at 10:33 am

      Hi Frank, I tend to be more cautious than some people. I have dehydrated hamburger in an Excalibur dehydrator. Here’s the link. The hamburger must be at least 93% lean ground beef. It’s pretty hard to find the ground beef this lean in my small town. Costco sells 88% as I remember. I finally found it at a local grocery store. It has a lot of salt and must be refrigerated or frozen to keep it safe. I found it too expensive to make and keep long-term. I have made it a few more times and it’s good but too much salt has to be added to keep it safe. Fruits and Vegetables are very easy to dehydrate for short-term preservation. I will have to look into seeing how safe the salting and smoking would be. Great comment, Linda

  • February 24, 2019 at 12:53 pm

    Thank you for the info. I cringe every time I hear of someone home canning butter and other high fat foods. Especially oven canning. That is not canning. That is just heating. Just because a jar seals does not mean it is safe. Foolish people.

    • February 24, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Mary, I love your comment, thank you! I cringe hearing people are oven canning. It is not canning. You nailed it, foolish people. Linda

      • February 25, 2019 at 6:43 pm

        Most of the posts I see about doing oven canning on a regular basis come from accross the pond, generally in the UK. I’ll stick to water bath & pressure canning myself.

        • February 25, 2019 at 7:21 pm

          Hi Ohio Prepper, actually I saw one written about canning butter in the oven by a woman in my small town in Southern Utah. I think there are in the US as well. I’ll stick to water bath and pressure canning as well. Stay safe! Linda

  • February 24, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Great article! I just wanted to point out that there is actually one recipe that involves eggs being canned that is approved by the NCFHP. I just thought that this would be important to note since the NCFHP is the go to for canning preservation safety and didn’t want anyone thinking that a mistake was made.

  • February 24, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    My sister in law and I oven can peanuts every year. Last month I opened a quart jar of peanuts that was oven canned in 1913 and they were still good, looked just like when I put them in the jar. I toasted them to snack on and toss in salads etc. No problems at all. We buy them by the 50 lb. bags to can and neither family has ever had a problem with bad peanuts.

  • February 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    Flour, rice, and pasta also cannot be canned.

  • February 25, 2019 at 7:19 pm

    I find that the best ways to preserve eggs are to either freeze dry them or simply freeze them raw. You crack an egg into each of the sections of an ice cube tray, and then gently scramble it. Place the tray in the freezer and freeze just like normal ice cubes. Once frozen you can quickly pop them out into a zip top freezer bag and place back in the freezer. When you need eggs in a recipe, simply take as many as you need and let them thaw, then use like normal. They also work well for just eating as of course; scrambled eggs. Since we have a whole house generator, freezing is an option we use for many things.
    We have a small flock of hens and at times have more eggs than we can eat, so we will freeze some and gift the others to neighbors, who in turn will gift us vegetables or help with chores. Sometimes, especially when molting, we may only get a few eggs per week, so the stored eggs can be important.
    For Bacon, we occasionally purchase the Yoder’s brand; but, bacon is inexpensive enough to purchase when you need it or to keep some frozen. We purchased an “As seen on TV” product a while back and it works well for oven frying bacon. The “Bacon Bonanza” has a pan with a rack that holds the bacon horizontally, and allows the grease to drip into the pan which allows the bacon to be a bit less greasy. Cleanup is also easier.
    We have tried the “Red Feather PURE CANNED BUTTER”; but, generally do as you do, purchasing on sale and keeping it frozen. We have however canned homemade Ghee (Clarified butter) that is made by melting butter and heating it enough to drive off all of the water, and then skimming off then milk solids. The mixture is hot enough to kill Clostridium Botulinum spores and the resulting pure oil has a smoke point of 485° compared to butter @ 350°
    Canned in this case means pouring the Ghee into jars, placing lids and refrigerating after cooling.

    Another thing I rarely see mentioned is to have some measuring equipment for canning. You can safely water bath can food with an Acidic pH of 4.6 or less, and most recipes assume that fruits are in that range. For water bath canning vegetables you can safely use the pickling method with a vinegar or lemon juice based pickling solution which I used to do; but, modern electronics have gotten inexpensive enough to take away the guessing, so adding a pH meter to youf kitchen tools is not a bad idea.

    I do have an unrelated comment for Linda. Whenever I am visiting your site, my browser and computer sometimes slow down horribly, at least in part I think because of some of the videos that auto start.

  • January 9, 2020 at 9:41 am

    Just a tip regarding cooking bacon in the oven – I have a couple deeper pans (probably ‘jelly roll’ type) and I have a cooling rack that fits over the pan, but stays elevated because of the ‘feet’. My husband started using this method for bacon and hamburgers so any fat drips down into the pan (lined with foil for easy cleanup) and the bacon and/or hamburgers lose the excess fat while cooking!

    Since we’ve been doing this, I keep that rack separate from others, as there’s sometimes a little residue that doesn’t like to come off, no matter how many cleanings, but I have others to use for baking. 🙂

    • January 9, 2020 at 3:36 pm

      HI Marie, oh how I love bacon! It’s so much easier to bake bacon in the oven especially on the racks. I need to do hamburger patties that way! Love it! Linda

  • April 12, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    If you have a powdered whole milk that you like- I have seen where people use that to make butter and cottage cheese! Worth a shot using your favorite powdered milk to recreate that at home.


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