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Will Homemade Food Gifts Kill You?

Home canning is the new trend this year! It’s not surprising given the economy, that more people are growing their own food and preserving that food for later by canning it.

I also think that this trend is cutting into food company’s market share because I read on MSN a big scary health warning story not to eat homemade food gifts because they might kill you! Then they go into a few gross horror shows of getting homemade cookies and such with hair in them – YUCK!

However, the real scary thing they are ‘warning’ us about is homemade canned food given as gifts. Apparently THREE people got sick last year because of improperly canned food. They say that some folk try to experiment or can things they shouldn’t like pumpkin butter. It's true pumpkin butter is not acidic enough to home can safely but you are able to freeze pumpkin butter like you would when making freezer jam.

My jam is a little too sweet for my taste but I don't think it could kill.
 Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take all precautions when canning food or that nothing goes wrong.  If you recall I mentioned that I’m afraid of canning. That’s why I made freezer jam last year.

I also made pumpkin butter out of our Halloween pumpkins - which I froze. I also gave it as a gift. Personally the last thing I want to hear is a warning that my homemade pumpkin butter can kill when I made certain that it won't. However, it might add a few inches to your hips if you eat it all in one setting, but that's your problem, not mine.

In addition, MSN warns that if you aren’t 100% sure the person making a food gift has a hospital sterilized kitchen, don’t eat it – throw it away. I'm not saying that some people keep a less than clean kitchen or let their pets walk all over their cooling baked goods (EW!) but the people in the article suspected that when they received an odd smelling food gift from their less than clean friend and decided to eat it anyway - cat hairs and all.

So now I worry. I am a fastidious cleaner but I clean with vinegar. I know at least one person who thinks I’m crazy and that my home isn’t as clean because I don’t dose everything in chlorine bleach like she does. I’m afraid my contribution may be thrown away. It’s the wasting of food that bothers me, not that the person didn’t like the gift.

I want to go on record that my kitchen floors are clean enough to eat off of. In fact, my dog does it all the time! Oh wait. Dogs aren't picky eaters, so maybe I should revisit my example...

What do you think? Do you think we shouldn’t give food gifts? Are you worried that they might kill you?


Ms. F said…
I think what angers me the most about the MSN article is the fact that it makes it seem as if people who make homemade gifts for loved (or not so loved) ones are freaks because they aren't buying into the capitalism of Christmas.

Last year, I made orange marmalade for everyone, knit and crocheted fun stuff and even made a clock. No one died and all the clothing is still being worn and the clock is on my MIL's wall. Half the things in that article (meat, fish, other low-acid foods) it is not recommended that you can them because of the risk of botulism. I'm not an expert but I certainly do follow the rules and everyone is still safe.
I agree complete! On my other blog Condo Blues, my homemade gift idea posts are always very popular during the holiday season. I've made and received many homemade gifts food and otherwise and loved them all!

Another thing the MSN article makes it sound like home canners are dangerous freaks are the ones who can more unusual things like chutney or salsa. I have to say I prefer my MIL's canned salsa to the jar stuff. I know she follows all of the rules and keeps it safe.
Nicole said…
I think the news tend to be fear-mongers. Haven't you hear horror stories about eating out at restaurants/fast food? So now we will never eat our again? (OK, so our hearts and hips would probably be better off if we didn't) The point is that how else do you think we have 24 hour news stations? They have to keep coming up with new stories, which they tend to sensationalize. You said three people got sick? Out of how many? and city of thousands? Out of the country? Can you see my point? I say go for it, and if they throw it away then they miss out.
Mrs. Yeater said…
All of the above make wonderful points. We all have people of our acquaintance that keep a... *ahem* less than clean kitchen and we might think twice about eating anything they make period. Of course, these people are not usually the type to MAKE food gifts. What about our dear ancestresses who would slave in their kitchens for hours and days, canning, preserving, and baking? They were fine and typically lived through their meals without sterilized kitchens and utensils. With all of grocery store product related illnesses, fatal outings to restaurants and now our own kitchens are unsafe, where and what are we to eat? Like Nic says, go for it.
Honey said…
I was wondering if you're still afraid of canning. I can, grew up canning, love canning as it gives me warm, summer jewels during dull, cold winter. I'm local (I live in Ohio), I clean with vinegar, baking soda, peppermint essential oil, castile soap and water. I've 3 kids so I wouldn't recommend eating off the floors but we're very healthy, no one's complained about my food gifts nor have they gotten sick.

Question...last year 3 people got sick off of home made foods? Perhaps you should ask how many people last year got died from eating out on a Tuesday at 7pm while on a date and drinking a martini with 3 onions. I bet that numbers WAY higher than the 3.

And, honestly....so many rat hairs, cockroaches, bugs are allowed in a name brand chocolate bar. I'd prefer a persons hair from their armpit that was washed earlier that day than a filthy rat/cockroach/mouse (oh yeah and a certain number of mice feces is allowed too.) ANY DAY!

Also, you can can pumpkin. I have and it's TASTY! I recommend you check out Jackie Clay. She's the food preserving goddess.

Oh, and I'm planning a canning party if you'd like to come. :) Too many friends want to learn how.