Starting Cautionary Note
Do not assume the content of any of these historical canning guides reflects current scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. In fact, assume the opposite.
Do not follow recipes or guidelines — they are riddled with advice we now know is dangerous.
There was some pretty hinky canning going on back in the day. This advice involving soggy newspaper and a blanket is a good example of why you’d want to refer to these canning guides for historical purposes only!
As a general rule, “Canning books published prior to 1994 will not have safe processing times and/or methods.”  Penn State Extension. Planning Ahead for Summer Canning. 4 May 2013. This applies to canning guides published by anyone, either state sector or private sector.
Refer to these canning guides only for the purposes of researching the evolution of canning recommendations, etc.
Access to these can be useful at times in disproving unsafe canning information on the Internet which purports to be “new, secret knowledge” that “they” are trying to withhold from you. It always turns out to be long-ago discredited information from these old canning books.
To access a treasure trove (historical information wise) of decades-old USDA canning bulletins, go to archive.org.
They give a picture of life in World War 1 and 2 on the home front, and are invaluable to food researchers of the periods.
Kook Kwik Pressure Canner. Manual from 1910s
Farmers’ Bulletin No. 1471 — big change. “It was not until Farmers’ Bulletin No. 1471, “Home Canning of Fruits and Vegetables,” (Stanley, 1926) was issued in 1926 that pressure canning was the only method recommended for low-acid vegetables.”  Andress, Elizabeth L and Gerald Kuhn. Critical Review of Home Preservation Literature and Current Research. II. Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service. 1983.
Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables (1926, England)
Gilbert, Muriel Dundas. Successful Home Canning. Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science Extension Division. Extension Bulletin No. 132. May 1933.
Furman, Bess. Community Food Preservation Centers. Bureau of Home Economics, USDA. Misc. Pub 472. October 1941.
McKimmon, Jane S. and Cornelia C. Morris. Simplified Methods for Home and Community Canning. North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service. Pamphlet #39. March 1941.
Cameron, Janet L. and Mary L. Thompson. Canning for the Home. Bulletin No. 128. Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating Extension Division. Revised June 1944. Page 4. (first published in the early 1930s.)
Home canning of fruits, vegetables and meats. By Stanley, Louise, Stienbarger, Mabel C.; Shank, Dorothy Esther, 1942.
Wartime Canning of Fruits, vegetables. USDA Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics. Washington, DC. June 1943.
Home Canning of Meat 1945 AWI – 110
Pickle and relish recipes 1944 AWI – 103
Wartime Home Canning of Fruits & Vegetables. Canada. Consumer Section, Dominion Department of Agriculture. 1944. Accessed March 2015 at
Home Canning Meat Poultry Fish Bulletin 242. 1947. Montana Extension Service
Answers to your canning questions. Kerr.1948.
Fruetzmacher, Lucy Case, Thomas Onsdorff and Mabel C. Mack. Canning for Home Food Preservation. Oregon State System of Higher Education. Federal Cooperative Extension Service, Oregon State College, Corvallis. Extension Bulletin 689. July 1948.
The 1940s legacy
The majority of today’s recommendations for processing are still based on research done during the Second World War.
The research was done in 1944 to 1946 and resulted in these books:
- Home Canning of Meat (1945)
- Home Canning of Fruits and Vegetables (1947)
- Home Canning Processes for Low-Acid Foods (Technical Bulletin No. 930) (1946)
The advent of home freezing
In the 1950s, with the advent of freezers and their sudden popularity, the USDA stopped their research into canning and switched to freezing.
Consequently, canning research was sparse in the 1970s and 80s, and only done at universities — often with USDA funding, but not in USDA labs.”  Andress, Elizabeth. “History, Science and Current Practice in Home Food Preservation.” Webinar. 27 February 2013. Accessed January 2015.
USDA Publications — 1980s onwards
The first USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning was issued in 1988, under the guidance of Dr Gerald Kuhn at the Penn State Center for Excellence.
The 1988 edition replaced the all the previous separate books and bulletins. The edition did bring forward a lot of stuff from those previous publications. The edition also introduced low temperature pasteurization process for some pickles, and the new Penn State research results on Clear Jel, and tomato acidification.
In bringing any recipes and procedures forward into the new 1988 complete guide, they had to be able to find and make sense of all the original documentation behind the procedure: otherwise, it was dropped. Consequently, some things such as summer squash canning was dropped, because the documentation behind it could not be located.
This new Complete Guide was issued in 1988, and then rapidly again in 1989 — but the 1989 version was largely to correct typos.
In 1994, it was updated with Elizabeth Andress supporting Dr Kuhn’s team at Penn State.
There was a 2006 edition and 2009 edition (released in December 2009.)
The 2015 version was released in February 2016.
The 2009 edition added a salsa section based on the work by Washington State, as well as the results of the Alaska research on fish, the Oregon research on Asian pears, and added some new pickled foods and fruit products developed at the National Center in Georgia.  Andress, Elizabeth. “History, Science and Current Practice in Home Food Preservation.” Webinar. 27 February 2013. Accessed January 2015.
Each edition of the USDA Complete Guide supersedes the previous edition and makes the previous edition out of date.
A history of Washington State Extension bulletins.
Andress, Elizabeth L and Gerald Kuhn. Critical Review of Home Preservation Literature and Current Research. II. Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service. 1983.
Evolution of USDA Home Canning Recommendations. Timeline prepared by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
|↑1||Penn State Extension. Planning Ahead for Summer Canning. 4 May 2013.|
|↑2||Andress, Elizabeth L and Gerald Kuhn. Critical Review of Home Preservation Literature and Current Research. II. Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service. 1983.|
|↑3||Andress, Elizabeth. “History, Science and Current Practice in Home Food Preservation.” Webinar. 27 February 2013. Accessed January 2015.|
|↑4||Andress, Elizabeth. “History, Science and Current Practice in Home Food Preservation.” Webinar. 27 February 2013. Accessed January 2015.|