By MICHELLE SCHMIDT
So, for example, when you walk by the mounds of fresh raspberries from Oregon’s Aichele Farms, you can load up because you just saw how simple it is to prepare and preserve raspberry jam. A few supplies and a couple of hours later, you’ll have jars of summer sweetness to enjoy during next February’s cold snap.
“Canning is very easy,” said Erin Corwine, of Radish and Raven Provisions.
Corwine began canning nearly three years ago and now sells her canned jams, butters and sauces at the Moscow Farmers Market. She will demonstrate how to make classic raspberry jam at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Easy, yes; but canning also is a precise process that can intimidate newbies. So making canning accessible is what this program is about.
“All it took for me was doing it a couple times, doing it with someone who knew what they were doing,” said Corwine.
After that, she was hooked, so much so that she decided to produce enough to sell.
But canning need not become a career. If the time investment seems overwhelming, start small, organizers recommend. Canning a few half-pint jars will take around two hours — versus the all-day project of a truckload of produce.
Preserving our heritage
“There’s been a resurgence of food-preservation culture,” Corwine said. Not only has she observed the rising popularity of the practice, but it has been infused with creativity as the younger generation plays with unique ingredients and flavors.
“We have a young population that missed out on canning. It skipped a generation. So they didn’t learn food preservation and home economics,” said Kathleen Burns, director of the Moscow Farmers Market.
The growing interest — and a grant — is what brought the program to Moscow.
The Farmers Market Coalition and Jarden Home Brands, maker of Ball preserving products, awarded a grant for the program to 30 farmers markets in the nation. Moscow’s is the only recipient in Idaho. Besides education, the program provides free product, including pectin, salsa and pickling spices and booklets — and one lucky winner each week will receive a starter kit. Those looking for additional canning supplies will be referred to local stores.
Corwine’s raspberry jam is the first of six demonstrations throughout the summer.
“We’ll try to follow the food calendar,” said Burns.
Which means there will be no salsa demos until the fall, when booths brim with tomatoes and a truckload of nearly 60 varieties of peppers from Tonnemaker Farms. When that happens, Ron Berger will teach participants how to do the salsa.
Berger has been canning and selling Burnt Ridge Jalapeño Salsa in Troy for nearly five years after discovering a salsa recipe that flew off his pantry shelves. Home preparation turned commercial, and now the hobby pays for itself.
Whether peppery salsa or sweet berry jam, canning stores up a bit of summer for easy, economical and sustainable year-round enjoyment.
Canning 101: Tips from Corwine and Berger
– Always measure precisely. Some seemingly small changes can throw off the pH, and that’s when things can get scary. Know your limits when playing with ingredients.
– Follow instructions. And not just kind of — aim to be a little on the obsessive side.
– Invest in basic supplies. Besides the stock pot, jars and lids, buy a magnetic lid grabber, non-metal stirring stick and jar clamps. Those tools will cost you less than $10 and be worth every penny.
– Read a book. The “Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving” is the gold standard. Or try “Homemade Living: Canning and Preserving” by Ashley English, which provides simple recipes and science, or “Put ’Em Up” by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
– Get your friends to join you. Form an assembly line and a few hours and a bottle of wine later, everyone has a few jars put up.
-Take a class. Sign up for information about upcoming canning classes in the area at the Discover You Can booth.
if you go
Discover You Can demonstration schedule
June 15: Raspberry jam
July 12: Apricots
July 20: Peaches
Aug. 10: Pickling
Aug. 17: Tomato Sauce
September TBA: Salsa
Schmidt can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (208) 305-4578.