This past Tuesday we had our annual food preservation workshop for Grow Appalachia participants. The workshop was led by two of our participants who are particularly savvy with food preservation techniques and always willing to share their knowledge.


Our wonderful workshop leaders Becky and Jennifer

Jennifer went through the basics of using both a water bath and a pressure canner and then took us step by step through the process of canning bread and butter pickles and half runner beans. Becky, while also very canning savvy, is a veritable gold mine of information about dehydrating and storing food for long periods of time. Becky is also always up to date on the latest innovations in food preservation. She brought her Excalibur dehydrator, a vacuum sealer, and what I found to be the most useful, Tattler canning lids. Tattler lids are BPA free plastic canning jar lids that come with a rubber sealing ring, both of which can be used up to eleven times before replacement, so no more buying new lids every year!


Maggie with Zucchini jam that a participant brought to share


Zapple Pie to share (another great way to preserve Zucchini!)

Because the majority of our Grow Appalachia participants are simply canning items such as corn, beans, and tomatoes to make the most of their harvest and have homegrown food during the winter, I won’t suggest any fancy specialty canning recipes. But, many of our participants have begun to dehydrate tomatoes and are always looking for new ways to prepare them so here are a couple recipes to use dried tomatoes throughout the year!

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

This pesto can be used as a pasta sauce, pizza topping, sandwich spread, or can be added to scrambled eggs, tuna salad, etc.


1/2 cup dehydrated tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted) or any other nut that you prefer
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Place everything into a food processor and puree until smooth


Double Corn Bread with Mozzarella and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely shredded mozzarella (or other cheese you have on hand such as cheddar etc.)
1/4 cup minced smoked ham (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped dehydrated tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over low heat on the stove top and leave it to heat while preparing the batter for the corn bread.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and black pepper, and stir with a standard whisk to mix. In a second large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and ¼ cup of the oil until blended. Stir into this second bowl the corn, 1/2 cup of the cheese, the ham, the tomatoes, and the parsley.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula just until blended.

4. Drizzle the heated skillet with the remaining 2 table-spoons of oil, tilting the pan to coat evenly. Immediately add the batter (the oil will sizzle and bubble up around the edges to coat the sides of the skillet), and spread it to the edges of the skillet, using a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons cheese.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the skillet. Serve hot or at room temperature, cut into wedges.