May 312012
 

Mother Earth News has a big cover story on canning in their most recent issue. The crux of the article is that canning, like vegetable gardening, is rapidly gaining in popularity. If one has a vegetable garden then doing something with that excess food is something we all need to do. We are very happy that we learned to “put food by (the old expression for canning, freezing, drying and fermenting food). There are lots of helpful books out there which one can find by using Google or Bing. Some methods of putting food by are more complicated than others. Freezing, for example, is quite simple. Blanch it, dry it and bag it.

Although I am convinced that anyone can teach themselves how to master any food saving technique, as with any new skill it is always helpful to have someone show you the ropes and lead you through the process.

As part of the Grange Country Living Series we want to teach people how to put food by. You don’t need a garden to do this. Already you could have been drying nettles for winter tea or making pickles from fiddlehead ferns. Later in the summer there’s wild berries for jam and jelly (we haven’t bought a jar of jelly in a year). In fact, we are still opening the last few jars of pickles and finishing off green beans, beet greens, squash and pesto from the freezer.

It’s difficult to schedule canning sessions far in advance. Normally, a canner decides only a couple days ahead of time that they are going to make some cans (jars) of food. What we would like to do is poll the island and find out who would like to learn to put food by and also get an inventory of people who are willing to share their knowledge. Then, we can match up those who want to learn with those who want to teach. The teachers can let their “apprentices” know when they are going to go to work and invite them to come help.

We will also try to organize a couple of general introductory classes.

But, for now, I invite those who are interested in canning, freezing, pickling, etc. to contact me as well as those who are willing to mentor one or two people in the processes with which they are familiar. You can contact me via the comments section or by calling the number in the island phone book.

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  6 Responses to “Food Preservation”

  1. I would LOVE to take a class in food storage. I am completely clueless about this subject and I think it is a critical skill to have.

  2. That’s a great idea, Randy!

    I’d be happy to mentor on fruit and tomato canning and pickling (including refrigerator pickles). I don’t do pressure canning.

    I had an interesting conversation with Krista Rome (Backyard Beans & Grains Project) about the importance of using low carbon footprint food preservation methods as much as possible. For example, fermenting cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchee doesn’t take any heat, so is a low-energy preservation technique. Another example: instead of freezing or pressure canning potatoes in the fall, she stores them fresh in a cool place as long as possible (usually several months during the winter). When the remaining potatoes start to sprout in the spring, then she cans what’s left. She saves a lot of energy because by then there are many fewer potatoes left to preserve.

    As a result of our conversation, I’m going to be taking a look at my own food preserving methods to see where I can save energy this year, too.

  3. There is a great book called “Preserving Food WIthout Freezing or Canning” published by Chelsea Green publishers. I highly recommend is to anyone who does a lot of food preservation and is tired of having to slave away over a hot stove in late summer, or run up their electricity bill with dehydrating and/or freezing so much. However, for those who are new to food preservation, Iearning how to can with a boiling water bath can’t be beat. I’m off-island (near Lynden), but my household does oodles of canning, fermenting, and even the occasional miso-making, and would share our knowledge in exchange for help with the task at hand. Good series, Randy!

  4. Nancy’s comment about Krista storing potatoes was a good idea. How about a demo on root cellaring?
    I also recently posted a blog on reusable canning lids and the fact that the disposable ones have a liner that contains BPA. One of the reasons I can is to avoid those chemicals in my families food and I hadn’t even thought about the white lining on the inside of my Kerr and Ball lids. If you are interested you can find that post here. http://welcometothehenhouse.blogspot.com/2012/05/canning-and-stupidest-person-on-planet.html

  5. Sign me up for the root cellaring workshop if that comes about. I’m also interested in Nancy Ging’s workshop idea (as a mentoree). thanks Randy!

  6. I certainly plan to attend the canning sessions if I am home from sea at the time. My family bottled peaches, tomatoes, and a few other things and we froze bags of sweet corn every year when I was a kid, but it has been a while and I need to freshen up my skills. It would be great to have some instruction on canning salmon. I am not sure if there are many differences to canning salmon as opposed to tomatoes, but I would just like to make sure. I received some of Mark Richardsons canned salmon in partial payment for a mowing job and it was absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to do some for myself.

    Also, I am not set up to bottle at my place (just a camping trailer for now) but I would be interested in doing a good portion of the labor for someone who is set up and will be bottling things in exchange for taking some of the bottles being put by. I was also wondering we could use the grange kitchen as a work station to bottle as a group production. Could we have a sign up sheet for times of bottling certain items at the grange? How well is the grange set up for putting by a hundred bottles per session?

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