Our first canning class of the season was a success. 12 people attended, eager to learn the ins and outs of canning safely and healthfully.
First up: Low-sugar strawberry jam with Pomona’s Pectin.
The group dutifully washed strawberries and listened to Denise Peterson’s directions for preparing your kitchen and pantry for canning.
So many strawberries! I hope that next year we will use strawberries Grow Appalachia gardeners have grown–we did purchase strawberry plants this year, but they will not produce until next season.
After a lot of mashing, boiling, and stirring, people took turns packing jars, after Deni went over sanitation of jars, never boiling the rings, hot pack/cold pack, processing, and so on.
The jars processed batch by batch for five minutes. It was satisfying to hear the POP sounds of successfully canned jars.
Next up was a honey-only strawberry jam–no refined sugar. This jam had only four ingredients–Apples, honey, strawberries, and lemon juice. Apples are high in pectin and can be used instead of a boxed pectin. This sort of jam tends to be runnier, so you can simmer it longer to reduce the liquid. Also, it makes a great topping for waffles.
From the world of sweet we traveled to mixed dillied vegetables, using all vegetables that participants will be harvesting in the coming months from their garden. I wouldn’t think canned broccoli, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers could be good, but it is SO GOOD. And very beautiful to see in the jars, all the bright vegetables with swirls of mustard seed, chopped dill, and cinnamon sticks–the vegetables have just the right hint of sweetness and spice.
Canning gave way to some herb spreads–a low-calorie pesto (less cheese, oil, and nuts) that still popped with flavor due to lemon juice and red pepper flakes. We made a four-herb spread for sandwiches or crackers as well, using cilantro, parsley, dill, and basil. These are all herbs people will be harvesting this year, and it is important that people know how to utilize them. The more green in your diet the better, and people need to give herbs their due.
We also whipped up some biscuits to spoon our jam onto. Everyone gobbled up the spreads and biscuits, and took home the fruits of their labor in the form of several jars each of everything.