Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Canning 101

Thinkstock Single Image SetLast week I went to the opening of the farmers market in Minnetonka. It was a great experience with many local farmers, including a group of farmers who brought canned peaches, tomatoes, tomato sauce and once again a memory of my grandmother making canned wild berry reserves was triggered. I remember as a young child picking wild raspberries, strawberries and blackberries and then canning the reserves. I do remember opening the cans in the middle of winter and thinking of all those summer days of picking the berries...hmmm, what a great memory!

I don't know anyone who does canning anymore, including myself. Actually, canning can be very easy and it is a great way to eat fresh and locally year round. So whether your tomato plant is bursting with more tomatoes than you ever could imagine, or you are frequenting all of the farmers markets and finding you are having an extra amount of fresh fruit and veggies -- consider canning those extras instead of throwing them away!

The National Center for Home Food Preservation is a great starting point to learning how to can your own fruits and vegetables. You also can find information and professional guidance at your local Cooperative Extension Office.

The New York Times, highlights some of the challenges with canning in their article Some Canning Dos and Dont's -- this article is a MUST READ if you are considering canning. Since there is a higher risk of food contamination, it is essential to follow recipes closely and to pay very close attention during canning. Recipes should not be followed if they were developed before 1990 since there was such a great risk for food borne illness and the USDA did not publish their comprehensive guide to Home Canning until 1998.

So, be smart and safe when home canning. Overall it is an easy way to reduce waste and to enjoy of the flavors of the summer in January!

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