So I planted a garden this summer. We’ve had raised beds, but I’ve not really been a gardener so they have mostly sat fallow the past couple of years. This year, with the help of some friends who snuck in and started planting seeds for me, I decided to give it a go and ordered starts from a local charity.
Production was, not what I expected. Most things came in – OK. The cucumber, however, went bananas! It quickly became obvious I was going to need to learn to make pickles, because even my friends didn’t want to help consume all of these. And thus – the novice gardener is introduced to Home Canning.
I started with recipes from my friend Kristin’s canning books. Quite simple enough! But then I started googling on canning, and learning of the things that can go terribly wrong in preparing food to be “shelf stable”, and I decided I needed to learn more. Luckily enough, Kristin was game to teach not just me, but a class out of her home!
Home canning is an extremely efficient way of preserving the bounty that comes out of a garden – or out of a CSA that you subscribe to. Food has seasons, and when it is plentiful, it makes sense to store that up for the times of the year when it’s not going to be available. There are a lot of ways of preserving food – refrigeration works – for a few weeks. Freezing will keep much longer – but it takes up freezer space and energy to keep that freezer running. Canning can preserve food for a year or possibly longer, takes nothing but a corner of your basement to store, and by getting your produce from
your garden or your farmer’s garden – avoids wasteful packaging and food transport costs that you get with grocery stores.
Kristin walked us through the differences between water bath canning and pressure canning. Described the processes and how the different steps are important for killing the various bacteria that are present in our everyday environment – which if not treated correctly can become deadly in a jar of improperly prepared food. She introduced us to the acidity chart for foods, explaining why some items are easier to can than others, and reviewed just what the Colorado Cottage Foods Act certificate training is and what
it allows a person to do if they wish to sell their canned goods at a market.
During class we processed 4 different batches, demonstrating very effectively what a home canner can produce with an afternoon’s work. She even had pre-canned some of each of these recipes, so that we could sample the products and take some cans home if we liked. (HUH – who knew you need to leave newly canned jars alone for 24 hours after canning?? I did NOT) In all it was a very informative session, and I look forward to practicing more at home!
For attendees who wanted copies of the slides, they are included below! Thanks everyone!