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Canning College: Part 1

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I showed up for class with my mother’s decades-old pressure canner, in hopes that I’d finally learn how to use it.  I remembered her canning green beans in that heavy pot, and warning me to stay away from the steam that emerged from the top.  I even remember snapping the stems off the ends of green beans for her.  But I didn’t really understand the process.

I’d recently been admiring how so many people are preparing their own foods for the shelf these days, instead of buying cans from the grocery store.  I wondered if I could develop the confidence to try it, too. The Slow Food and Farmers’ Market canners had been making it look easy down on Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I was enthusiastic about it.  But I still felt a bit uneasy about the food safety details.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one with these concerns. During Canning College with the local extension service, more than a dozen adults brought their questions, too.  Some were beginners like me. Others had canned before, but wanted to hone their skills.  So we crowded into two school kitchens, watching, listening, and taking turns getting our hands messy in everything from peaches to pickles.

Instructor Heather Guinn says, “The last three years we have seen a big rise in people wanting to learn to can. And from what they’ve told us from classes, it’s due to the economy.  More people are planting their gardens and they’re wanting to learn how to can their produce.”  Some in this class also shared my interest in having food on the shelf without preservatives and other additives.

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2 Responses to Canning College: Part 1

  1. Anne July 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    I think I’m going to start at home with a jam too and work up to the others.

    The instructors highly recommended a certain book that several of us ordered via another extension service. I will include that and more over the next couple of days. One I thought was a bit different was they said to freeze squash instead of canning it.

  2. Mrs. J July 5, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    Very cool! I think canning is really neat. Mr. J and I have been learning to can on our own lately. This weekend we made blueberry and peach jams. I was pretty intimidated by the idea of canning because I read all about the dangers if you don’t do it right. But I figure if our grandparents did it with no problems, without necessarily following the recommended precautions, we can do it safely by following recommendations.

    I’ve been starting with canning recipes that require water bath canning so I can get used to it. But we will probably be canning beans from our garden in a few weeks, so we’ll need to use the pressure canner. I’m both excited and nervous!

    Did your instructors give any unusual tips that aren’t in the standard canning guides?

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