Last night I had a ball--or should I say a Ball jar?-- at a free workshop called Preserving Your Harvest with Canning.
The teacher, Classie Parker--who I'm convinced has a secret life as a vaudevillian--kept us entertained while teaching the basics.
"Canning brings the community together," proclaimed Classie, who hails from South Carolina where she learned to can at her grandmother's knee when she was five and has been preserving the harvest ever since. "We're the can-can girls, a hot mess," she added with a twinkle in her eye and a swivel of her hips.
Classie invited volunteers from the audience to come up and do some canning. They all cut up carrots, onions, peppers, and cucumbers and stuffed them into sterilized jars along with whole green beans and some fresh dill and a few cloves of garlic.
"Pack love in those jars," ordered Classie as the volunteers pressed the vegetables down hard until the first rim. Then Classie poured a boiling hot pickling liquid over the vegetables. "It's just 1,2,3--as easy as that," she said, "1 cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 3 cups water simmered together for about 20 minutes."
Then the seal got pressed into place and the lid screwed on tight. After a giving it a good shake, the jar went back into the boiling water for another 20 minutes, then it was cooled to room temperature. It must be stored for at least 30 days before you can dig in.
"And don't tell anyone where your pantry is," Classie warned, "'cause once people hear about your preserves, they'll steal your jars!" Having said that, she promptly began plopping precious spoonfuls of her own red pear preserve onto crackers to share with the crowd.
After the delicious nibbles, representatives of Green Thumb and Just Food handed out free canning equipment to those who have community garden plots. I don't have a plot to grow on, and I was jealous on many counts!
If you want to be there virtually, here's what the workshop looked like from the front row.