In the first article I wrote for Grow Appalachia, I discussed how that Grow Appalachia was helping the residents of Appalachia to recover the past. Grow Appalachia helps to recover the past by teaching a new generation how to plow, plant, harvest and can (preserve).
Throughout the year, I have shared some of the lessons learned from Grow Appalachia. The spring and summer has been wet, but the harvest has been plenteous. Now, as the harvest season is in full swing, the ability to can/preserve is in need. The past two months, the Magoffin County Extension Service has provided lessons on how to preserve.
In the month of July, Courney Jenkins, Magoffin County Ag agent, instructed the members of Grow Appalachia in how to preserve jams and jellies. The attendees learned how to properly prepare the jars for use, and the proper use of a water bath canner. Each participant received a jar of preserves to take home and enjoy.
In August, Cathy Sparks, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, taught a class on preserving low acid vegetables. Cathy shared several interesting tidbits of information with those in attendance. One important tidbit was to understand some procedures followed by our ancestors are can not be certified today; especially when canning tomatoes. The reason for the difference in procedures is because of the difference in tomatoes. The tomatoes of days gone by had a higher acid content. Today, since the acid content is lower, the procedures have changed. Since the tomatoes have a lower acid content, Cathy suggested the need to follow new recipes,to follow them exactly. Cathy encouraged the class not to make substitutions in the recipes.
Cathy also shared with the Grow Appalachia Group, a few resources to find canning recipes. The resources she shared are: Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, So Easy to Preserve from the University of Georgia, and Home Canning Basics from the University of Kentucky. Cathy shared with us how the University of Georgia is the go to resource for instruction in preserving. They do extensive testing to ensure the recipes will preserve the product safely and efficiently. The statement, “Always use researched recipes, and do not substitute in recipes” was repeated often to stress it’s importance.
As the instruction continued, she demonstrated the proper canning procedures for the group. During the demonstration, Cathy shared a few more interesting pieces of information. She shared why new lids no longer need to be boiled. The new lids have silicone instead of rubber. This new design guarantees sealing without boiling. Actually, boiling the silicone lids may be detrimental to a good seal. Another piece of advice was not to attempt to reuse a jar which did not seal properly. Remove it from use. Put it in the refrigerator, and enjoy it’s contents soon. Botulism is a serious condition which can be acquired if a jar is not properly sealed. Therefore, it is imperative to make sure that all of your jars seal.
As those in attendance watched Cathy demonstrate the canning process a few more items were discussed. Cathy shared how to hang lids on a hanger to keep them from damage. She shared how to add a teaspoon of butter in jelly to reduce the foam on jellies. Also Cathy shared that a splash of vinegar in the water when boiling your jars would reduce the white film on the outside of your jars. We were informed that this white film is lime from the water purification process.
I have greatly enjoyed being a part of Grow Appalachia this year. Not only has my garden out produced the output from previous years, but I have also learned much. Also, the Magoffin County Extension Service has been very helpful in teaching preserving. When I arrived home from vacation, I picked numerous cucumbers. Some of them very large. The Extension office shared a recipe for pickling large cucumbers. These refrigerator pickles are delicious.
My wife and I are recovering the past by learning the lessons from Grow Appalachia. Now, maybe we can share some of these with the future generations of our family.
Now, if I can learn how to keep those pesky racoons out of my corn!!