Despite a growing season of extremes it seems that Grow Appalachia sites as a whole are harvesting like crazy, and of course canning everything possible. To add to the chorus of blog posts here is a synopsis of the canning and food preservation workshop that we held several weeks ago.

Jennifer and Maggie preparing the beans

One of our Grow Appalachia members, Jennifer Hockenberry, led the workshop and taught us all how to water bath can pickles and pressure can green beans. Jennifer is a wonderful teacher, she is confident in her canning skills and willing to try anything, when we threw a new dill pickle recipe at her to make she said, “I’ve never made it before, but I can do anything with a recipe”. I love this attitude towards cooking and food preservation and I hope that workshops such as this will instill that same confidence in other members of Grow Appalachia. The things we can do with garden produce are endless and I think creativity and exploration are more than half the fun of cooking and using the food you have grown to feed yourself and the people you love.

Jennifer talked a lot about the basics of canning and did her best to dispel the common sentiment that pressure canning is a frightening endeavor. She demonstrated each step of the process and really made canning look easy all while answering an array of questions concerning everything from how to clean and store a pressure canner to how to prepare canned goods for delicious meals later in the season. One reference that we have found to be priceless in the canning process is the Ball Blue Book, it has recipes, basic information, diagrams, and much more to help new and experienced canners alike. We sent each of our participants that attended the workshop home with one of these books so that they might feel confident canning in their own kitchens!

Pickles in the water bath canner
Dill pickles!
Jennifer with her wonderful assistant, Adi

We also briefly discussed other ways to preserve produce, such as freezing, and dehydrating, which, I wrote about in this previous post. This year we decided to stock up on canners and dehydrators to lend to our Grow Appalachia participants, and so far we have been getting great reviews, with many people successfully canning more pints and quarts of produce than I can even imagine. Several of our participants are also really enjoying dehydrating and have been trying all kinds of new things with the promise to let us know how it all works out, dehydrated beans anyone?!