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Vintage Canning Recipe Safety

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Safety of Vintage Canning Recipes

It’s very common to find old canning recipes tucked into family collections or in vintage fundraising cookbooks. However, these vintage canning recipes may contain safety concerns. With modern cooking, we know more about what makes canning safe, but those who are inexperienced in the kitchen may not know the safety concerns. Let’s look at some considerations before putting vintage canning recipes in your cookbook.

Old Versus New Recipes

Vintage recipes contain ingredients that have changed over time and may now be store-bought instead of home-grown.  One example is that today’s tomatoes do not have the same acid level as some heirloom varieties. Therefore, you will find current recipes often call for the addition of acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar.

Modern equipment and vintage recipes don’t always go together. Adapting a recipe could cause a safety failure. For example, a recipe that calls for rubber rings instead of the newer canning lids.

Vintage recipes prepared on a wood stove or over an outdoor fire may not have proper cooking times and temps. Trying to adjust these to current stove settings can cause issues.


What’s the worst that can happen? Sealed jars are not always a sign the food inside is safe to eat unless it was prepared safely. One of the greatest concerns is botulism, a condition that can be very serious if not caught early and treated. If in doubt, use an updated recipe from a reliable source.

For canning recipes that are valued for the memories or history, include it in your cookbook, but add a note and let people know it is a vintage recipe included for keepsake value and not recommended to be used.

If you want to check a recipe to see if it can be safely created, you can compare it to canning recipes from companies that make canning jars or other reliable sources. Often they list recipes on their website. You can also visit your local library and ask for current cookbooks on canning or they can direct you to your local extension office for guidance.

Online Resources for Canning Safety

USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning

National Center for Home Food Preservation

More About Vintage Recipes & Create Your Own Cookbook

To Learn more about updating vintage recipes check out our blog on Updating Vintage Recipes

To create your own cookbook click here: Cookbook Specialists