Hello from Pocahontas County West Virginia!

     Gardeners throughout the county are sweating over stoves in kitchens and canning shacks, trying to preserve all of this local food before it spoils!  In hopes of providing some support during this frantic canning season High Rocks’ Grow Appalachia program hosted a Canning 101 Workshop earlier this month.  The workshop was led by one of our local Extension Agents, Shirley Wilkins, and was held in the kitchen of The Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro, WV which is owned and operated by Blair Campbell, a High Rocks alum and Grow Appalachia participant.

     Their was a great turn-out at the workshop, with participants ages ranging from early-20s to mid-60s!  Shirley Wilkins gave a thorough overview of the dangers of canning when done wrong, and then led two thorough and hands-on demonstrations.

   The first demonstration taught us step-by-step how to can tomatoes using a hot water bath.  The second demonstration taught us how to can green beans using a Pressure Canner.  We all worked together on preparing the veggies, sterilizing the lids, and all participants listened closely to Shirley’s thorough instruction, not wanting to miss a thing.  The whole time I had a song by a great Texas band, The Carper Family, stuck in my head.  The song is called “Would you like to get some Goats with Me?” and has a verse about canning beans.  Next time we’ll have to bring a CD player and listen to canning themed songs during the workshop!

Shirley Wilkins watches while Workshop Participants Blanch the Tomatoes
Workshop Participants Peel and Slice the Tomatoes.
Shirley Wilkins explains how to Put the Tomatoes in the Jars.

Participants Try!

Shirley describes the importance of getting the right head space, and demonstrates how to measure it.
Shirley explains the importance of putting jars into water slowly to prevent cracking.
Participants fill jars with raw green beans.

Another Workshop Participant gives it a try.
The finished product!
     We collected workshop evaluations from participants at the end of the day.  In response to the question “What did you learn from this workshop?” one participant wrote:  “I can do this!”  That is truly what we hope to accomplish through the Grow Appalachia program…helping people gain the confidence to grow, cook, share, donate, sell, teach about, and love their home-grown food!
     Hope you’re eating well, wherever you are,
        Rachel and the High Rocks Grow Appalachia team