Homemade jams and jellies can be a delicious way to extend the summer bounty, but a University of Georgia food preservation expert urges people to follow the rules when canning at home. “Even though sugar has a preservative action in jams and jellies, molds can still grow and spoil these products,” said Elizabeth Andress, a UGA Cooperative Extension specialist. “USDA and UGA Cooperative Extension endorse a boiling water canning process for jams and jellies, which will make the potential for mold spoilage as small as possible.” Use the following steps, Andress says, to preserve food safely at home: Start with boiling water. Before cooking the jam, fill a boiling water canner with enough warm water to cover filled jars one to two inches above the lids. The canner needs to be centered over the stove’s burner and should be level. Add the jars before bringing the water to a boil to sterilize them. Empty jars need to be submerged in boiling water for 10 minutes for sterilization. If no sterilization is needed, heat the water in the canner to 180 degrees, simmering, to process filled jars. Wash pint or half-pint canning jars in hot water with dishwashing detergent or in a dishwasher. Sterilize jars if needed. Sterilized or not, keep jars hot until ready to be filled. Prepare canning jar lids according to manufacturers directions. Cook jam or jelly according to recipe directions. Skim off foam if present. Fill jars. If the jars were pre-sterilized, remove them from the canner when it is time to fill them and tilt them to quickly empty any water inside them into the canner. Fill jars with the hot jelly or jam mixture, leaving a fourth-inch headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean paper towel and seal the jars with lids. Adjust the ring bands as needed. Work quickly to insure the filled jars stay as hot as possible until they are ready to be loaded into the canner for processing. Load the filled jars, using a jar lifter, into the canner. Keep the jars upright at all times to prevent jelly or jam from spilling into the sealed area of the lid. The canner should be simmering when jars are added, not boiling.Boil filled containers. Turn the burner under the canner to its highest setting and place a lid on the canner. Return the water to a boil. If the jars were sterilized, boil the filled jars for five minutes. If hot, clean jars were used, process for 10 minutes. Keep a lid on the canner while processing to keep water boiling. Turn off the heat once the jars have processed, and remove the canner lid. Wait five minutes before removing jars from the canner. Use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the canner. Place the jars on a towel or cake cooling rack. Leave at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Cool jars upright for 12 to 24 hours while the vacuum seal is drawn and the jam or jelly sets. When using two-piece metal canning lids, do not tighten ring bands on the lids or push down on the center of the flat metal lid until the jar is completely cooled. Remove ring bands from sealed jars. Label and store in a cool, dry place out of direct light. Follow these UGA and USDA recommendations will help limit the risk of mold growth and spoilage of homemade jams and jellies. “There is some evidence that molds growing on fruit products could produce mycotoxins, or mold poisons,” Andress said. “A few other organisms could also spoil jams and jellies. It is best to take steps to prevent molding and spoilage, and thereby also protecting your investment of fruit, time and money by not having to throw away spoiled jams and jellies.”For more information from the National Center for Home Food Preservation on making jams and jellies, visit www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can7_jam_jelly.
Zoe, a loggerhead sea turtle that lived at the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island, Georgia, for the past five years, was released on the island Saturday, Sept. 30.A large crowd of local residents and tourists gathered with cameras ready as Zoe was lowered into the water just south of the pier on Tybee Beach, where the sea turtle hatched.Jillian Norrie, an environmental educator at the center who recently served as one of the sea turtle’s caretakers, lowered her into the water and she quickly swam out of sight.“She wasn’t really a pet, but she did recognize me as the one who fed her,” Norrie said. “I do feel sad, but Zoe is going to do very well in the ocean.”The staff at the center taught Zoe how to hunt and live on her own.“We took care of Zoe for five years, fed her well, made sure she was living in a good environment with appropriate water quality, diet and enrichment activities,” said David Weber, Burton 4-H Center program coordinator. “It wasn’t too hard. Primarily, she just needed a little help getting stronger as a baby, but there was a lot to keep track of and monitor as she grew to make sure she was as healthy as possible.” Before being released, the sea turtle was outfitted with a satellite transmitter that will track her location. “We are hoping to be able to follow her and collect data for several months, but it is really hard to say just how long the transmitter will stay attached to her shell,” said Paul Coote, 4-H center director. “Due to the turtle’s feeding habits, the tracker may get damaged pretty quickly. We hope it will continue to transmit for several months, maybe even six months if we’re lucky.”Since she was rescued as a stranded hatchling, Zoe served as a teaching tool at Burton 4-H center. About 9,000 students attend environmental education and 4-H summer camps at the 4-H center each year, and they meet a wide array of wildlife native to southeastern Georgia, from nonvenomous snakes to baby alligators. In all, about 40,000 students interacted with Zoe during her time at the 4-H center. Burton 4-H Center now has a new loggerhead sea turtle straggler, Belle, who will take Zoe’s place educating 4-H center visitors. In about five years, Belle will be also released. The public will soon be able to track Zoe through a link on the Burton 4-H Center website at www.burton4h.org.