Jun 19, 2010

Canning Workshop at the Arkansas Sustainability Network

Canning - how hard can it be? The original plan was to can some of my "to die for" salsa. Last Saturday I visited the Certified Arkansas Farmers Market and purchased 20lbs. of beautiful tomatoes from North Pulaski Farms, some yellow candy onions from Armstead Mtn. Farm, and some garlic (and green beans) from Kellog Valley Farms. On Monday, I stopped by the West Little Rock Market to get a whole bunch of jalepenoes and lipstick peppers from Laughing Stock Farm. Unfortunately, I learned after making my large purchases that it is not safe to hot water bath can salsa. Tomatoes are okay, but not salsa with peppers. For salsa I would need a pressure canner.

No problem, I'd buy a pressure canner. How expensive can they be? Around $100 give or take. Oh my, this was getting to be expensive salsa. Then a friend offered to ask another friend to loan me her old pressure cooker. It was pretty small, but looked like it would hold 4 pint jars of salsa. Tuesday evening, I made 4 pints of salsa then searched the web to find directions for canning in my borrowed cooker. None of the directions seemed to really fit with the equipment I had, so finally I just did the best I could, feeling pretty clueless the whole time. Later that evening, I spoke to a friend with canning experience. When I told her the way I canned my salsa, she informed me that I was very lucky not to have blown up the cooker and myself. Apparently, canning can not be done in just any pressure cooker; it must be a cooker specifically made for pressure canning. This one was not.

Wednesday night in desperation I hot water bath canned the rest of the tomatoes which, due to my lack of experience, took me until 2am. Friday night I lacto-fermented the jalepenos and froze the lipstick peppers. After much emotional trauma, all my food is now safely preserved.

Many in my family before me canned food; I feel certain I'm smart enough to learn to do it without losing any appendages. But I suspect it would be much easier if someone showed me how. My experience this week made me really see that while books and the internet are wonderful for learning many things, having a live demonstration can be invaluable. Fortunately, the Root Cafe is offering such help for all of us newbies. These workshops will be held at Christ Episcopal Church (location of the Arkansas Sustainability Network Local Food Club). So if you'd like to learn to can food the easy way, rather than the hard way (like yours truly), I suggest you check it out.

Tuesday evenings 6:30pm-8:30pm
Sessions will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, 6th & Scott, downtown Little Rock
July 6, 13, 20
August 3, 10, 17, & 31
September 7, 14
For only
$10 per session
we’ll provide light snacks, all the materials and hands-on instruction!
Plus, you get to take home a sampling of the finished product.

If you can't make the workshop, you might want to check out this list of the top 50 website for learning self-canning.

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1 comment:

  1. I may try to make one of these sessions, thanks for posting! Have to comment that I just water-bath canned salsa, and nowhere did I find any admonishments that I could not do so because of the peppers. It was a peach and tomato salsa with bell peppers and jalapenos. I can and pickle lots of stuff, but have never bothered with pressure canning.



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