Resources: Preserving the Flavor of Fall
Christa Glennie Seychew
Why don’t more of us can and preserve our own food? For some it might be the easily avoided concern of contamination or poisoning, while for others, it might be the labor and equipment required to can large amounts of food. Both of these issues should be considered and addressed when undertaking the task of canning, but they are minor concerns that can be overcome with some research and a little savvy.
The truth is, there is no more economical or healthy way to feed your family than to preserve fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables yourself, and in New York, we have excellent resources to help. The Cornell Cooperative Extension (cce.cornell.edu) is the only organization in the state allowed to confirm the safety of new canning recipes, so if you are looking for confirmation that a recipe you’ve concocted (or dug out of your great grandmother’s recipe box) is chemically balanced in a way that makes it safe to eat, for a small fee the folks at Cornell can test it to make sure it meets modern standards.
The web and a wide variety of books on the subject of food preservation provide additional information—too many resources to count. These include the tried-and-true canning book made popular by the Ball jar company, Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and their website, which offers over forty free recipes (freshpreserving.com). The National Center for Home Preservation (ncfhp.uga.edu) contains so much information about canning, freezing, and drying food that it’s impossible to summarize— let’s just say that it offers insight from recipes for standard issue freezer jam (the kind we used to make in Girl Scouts) to instruction on how to become a certified Master Food Preserver.
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather learn any technique in a hands-on session. Books and other resources can augment the most basic tutorials, but when it comes to really learning something new, the ability to participate and ask questions of someone more knowledgeable is always a bonus. Fortunately, canning is now so popular that a variety of classes are available this fall.
Seasonal, local, organic at Unitarian Universalist
Annie Levay-Krause is a woman on a mission to educate and feed anyone interested in upgrading his or her diet. Her blog (peapodriot.blogspot.com) features seasonal, ethical, and organic recipes. Levay-Krause also hosts an assortment of cooking classes and dinners from the certified kitchen at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Elmwood (695 Elmwood Ave.). This fall, you can partake in a variety of inexpensive canning classes through her program. See the schedule below.
Water Bath Canning: Vegan Basil-Garlic Spaghetti Sauce
Saturday, September 8, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.; cost is $5 per student. A materials list will be provided when students RSVP. Limit ten participants.
Water Bath Canning: Orange Marmalade
Saturday, October 13, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.; cost is $5 per student. A materials list will be provided when students RSVP. Limit ten participants.
Water Bath Canning: Spice Pear Butter
Saturday, November 10, 10 a.m.–1 p.m.; cost is $5 per student. A materials list will be provided when students RSVP. Limit ten participants. Please note that this class is particularly complicated and requires students to prepare some things at home the night before the class.
Lexington Co-op’s canning class series
For five years, the Lexington Co-operative Market has been providing members and nonmembers alike with canning classes held in the beautiful working showrooms of Artisan Kitchens & Baths (200 Amherst St.). “We love being able to do this,” says Joann Tomasulo, the Co-op’s membership coordinator. “It’s such a great way for people to get together and do something that is good for them. It also gives us a great opportunity to talk about the farmer that grew the food we happen to be preserving.” The Co-op’s canning programs allow attendees to take home a jar of food canned in class as well as recipes and an instruction sheet. All classes can be registered for at the Lexington Cooperative’s customer service desk (807 Elmwood Ave., 886-2667)
Monday, September 10, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Wednesday, September 12, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Tuesday, September 18, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Saturday, September 22, 10 a.m.–noon; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Tuesday, October 9, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Tuesday, October 16, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Thursday, October 18, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for non-members. Advance registration is required.
Tuesday, October 23, 6–8 p.m.; cost is $15 for members, $18 for nonmembers. Advance registration is required.
Other organizations that have offered canning classes in the past include the cooking schools within certain locations of both Tops (topsmarkets.com) and Wegmans (wegmans.com), Delish Cooking School and Pastry Shop (delishblackrock.com), and Auburn Watson (culinaryartscenter.com). At press time their class schedules were unavailable, but visit their websites for a current list of program offerings.
Christa Glennie Seychew is the food editor of Buffalo Spree.