{News and Views} Home Canning without BPA

It’s that time of the year when those of us who garden are starting to think about putting away the bounty of our hard work for the winter season. We all have different reasons why we tend a piece of land. It could be for the joy of growing fresh foods or to reduce our environmental impact or because we want to control what goes into our food. Whatever the reason may be, it may come as a surprise, then, that the essential component in food preservation contains a secret ingredient that might be harmful to our health.

Anyone who has preserved food by canning is familiar with the metal rings and lids that top the jars we can our foods in. The lid has a resin coating that is meant to keep the food from coming in contact with metal and that resin contains Bisphenol A, a chemical that has been found to be hazardous to our health.

What is Bisphenol A

Bisphenol A or as it is more commonly known, BPA, is an organic compound used in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. It is a known estrogenic and it is an endocrine disruptor which mimics the bodies own hormones. BPA has been known to leach from the linings of canned foods and polycarbonate plastics. Foods that are packaged in plastic have also been found to have BPA present. A study conducted this year and published in Environmental health perspectives took a group of people who ate canned and packaged foods regularly and tested their BPA levels. Part of the study included the participants eating only fresh un-packaged foods for three days. Traces of the chemical in their urine samples dropped by 50-70%. Just from cutting out these industrially packaged food.

The Environment and BPA

Humans are not the only part of the environmental web of life that is affected by Bisphenol A. Studies have shown that BPA can affect growth, reproduction and development of aquatic life – most impacted are fish. The exposure is both direct contact with the chemical and from the breakdown of ocean trash, of which, there are massive deposits in our oceans. In addition,  BPA is found to contaminate soil and if legumes are  grown in contaminated soil, they are especially affected since BPA interferes with nitrogen fixation at the roots of this species of plant. Also, the effect it has on us can be seen in most other mammals.

Home preservation without chemicals

It may seem like a Catch 22. If there are chemicals present in the very thing you are using to avoid chemicals, what do you do? Well there are some alternatives to help you avoid exposure at home. If you don’t want to get rid of the mason jars that you already have, the Tattler company makes a reusable BPA free plastic lid in sizes that fit both the wide and standard size jars. It can be used for preserving in either the water bath, pressure canner or vacuum sealing method. They are made in the USA. They are reusable for many years. Also there is no corrosion due to metal contact with acidic foods. They are one of the more cost effective alternatives.

“Tattlers lids are awesome! I’ve used them for all my canning (and I do a LOT) for the last couple of years.” Says Eco Etsy member Casey of Sesame Seed Designs.

If you are the collector type you might want to seek out vintage canning jars pictured on the left from Vintage by Alex Keller.

If perhaps you are a lover of beautiful glass pieces anyway and have a little money to spend, why not try Weck jars. The jars pictured on top are some of what you will find in their online shop.

The joy of putting away the seasons bounty does not have to change, just the tools that we use to do so.

Happy harvesting!

What are you canning this year? Have any good recipes to share? Please let us know.

{PHOTO} Weck Jars

Comments

  1. Thank you for the great article! I come from a long line of canners, but haven’t had the time in a few years. Hopefully this year if the tomatos come on…

  2. Thanks so much for the heads up on this… I haven’t done any canning yet this year, glad to have the link for the Tattlers!

    • You might be able to find them somewhere local too. There is an organic gardening place in Louisville that will be selling Tattlers. Fresh start growers supply if you are in Louisville KY anybody.
      Let us know what what goodies you put away Tammy.

  3. Blackberries and roses both sound like such great treats. I am looking forward to canning some apple sauce when we go on our annual trip to the orchard.

  4. I have moved recently, so I haven’t been able to have a vegetable garden this year.
    But there’s some blackberries in my garden, so I’ll make some jam of them.

  5. my mom used to preserve all sorts of great things from our garden! she even used to make a rose jam from her rose garden. sadly, i haven’t inherited the cooking gene from her – i’m more of a baker :) i’m going to take a closer look at both the Tattler and Weck products – we’ve discussed keeping our spices in canning jars & they might have what we’re looking for – thanks!