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Canning Clean

 
steward & bricolagier
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Location: SW Missouri
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I was doing some canning, following my usual habits, and I'm wondering how many others have these types of habit too? I call it "Canning Clean." It's both a cleanliness thing, and a mind shift for me. Before I start I clean the kitchen really well. Then if I need it, I shower before I change into clothes that are clean, will stay out of my way, cover my hair, etc. Then I start to work. If I have to stop for more than a few minutes, or do something grubby unexpectedly, I change out of those clothes, so they stay as clean as I can keep them. They get washed afterward, and kept separately so they stay clean.

In this current rental, due to weirdness, the worst grubbiness problem is hair, lint, dust balls etc. Long haired cat vs Pergo floors, we can't keep it clean no matter what we do. So keeping my canning clean clothes, once washed, in a safe place makes it so I am not fuzzy when I work.

It's also a mind shift for me: I'm working, be careful, pay attention, this ain't something you do sloppy, it's focused work so nothing gets contaminated and I don't get hurt.

Scouring down the kitchen before I start helps, it's hard to keep this kitchen clean, it was not designed for what we do in there. Including the countertop is a laminate that has an elaborate fake rock pattern we call "dead fly camo" you can't tell if it's clean or not, really easy to miss stuff. So I move the junk we have on the counter (not enough space to store the stuff we use) and clean under all of it, scrub it all down well. Any spoons etc I will use get washed, they are clean, but clean like "this was used for dinner, now it's washed" clean not "I want this as close to sterile as I can get it short of boiling it" clean which is a different level of cleanness.

So, OCD? Or careful? Am I the only one who has a ritual like this?

Current Canning Clean outfit (I have no face on the net, sorry!!)




 
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We certainly clean the kitchen before we begin.  We set up work stations.  We make good use of large cookie sheets in areas that might get messy.  Unlike you, we have been in this house over 20 years. We have done a major kitchen remodel with canning in mind. Our kitchen range holds a canner that hold stacked quart jars that does not bump into the overhead cabinet.  The faucet in the sink has a hose that reaches the canner.  My wife is much shorter than me. Her work station is set about 4 inches lower than normal.We even designed in a location for our Maine Coon Cat to supervise us from. God knows we couldn't do it right without her input.
 
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We have a course people handling food are expected to take (it's been part of several high school courses for the last 10 years) called, "Food Safe". One of the rules is that animals are not allowed in food processing areas, so yes, the cat hair in the kitchen area is one to try to reduce if not eliminate.

I think the degree of perfection also depends on what you're trying to can. If I'm doing high acid/low risk canning I'm fussy about boiling the bottles and lids and I have a specific long plastic board I put on the counter which I *only* use for canning, as getting our old counter clean with its battle wounds is harder than something I can fit in the sink or dishwasher.

I use a specific Corelle mug to fill the bottles and I do boil it and a cotton cloth in the canner along with the jars for 10 minutes of sterilization - I've seem too many people only pay attention to the jars or accept that "hot from the dishwasher" is good enough - rather than looking at the bigger picture as you are doing.

That said, I don't go as far as what you are doing. If I ever get back into pressure canning higher risk foods, all that extra effort would pay off. For the moment, it's just as easy to freeze some of those foods and be done with it. I can see scenarios where that would no longer be possible, so thinking about how to preserve food in different ways for when that's the only option and getting good at it now while we have time to practice, makes plenty of sense to me.
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