Back in the day, families and friends would gather during the harvest season to cook up large batches of delicious foods for the winter pantry. Groups would exchange jars so that each pantry had a good variety for the winter; no boring, bland commercially bought tomato sauce here!
I still have friends who are lucky enough to be connected to families like these (London, I love the Vaughn salsa and look forward to sharing a jar this fall!!). I, on the other hand, try to squeeze in smaller batches when I have the chance.
When you’re just learning to can, like learning other recipe techniques, you need to have patience with yourself. Ask a friend and learn from your mistakes, rather than giving up due to inferior tools!
Canning equipment can get expensive quickly. We’re happy to help set you up with the tools you need if you’re looking to buy, but keep in mind our Rental Library where you can borrow much of it before you commit.
Garden harvests come in fast; that’s why we’ve been spending the last few weeks exploring the various ways to preserve fruits and vegetables as they roll in. When we buy commercially preserved foods, we’re paying someone else to do the work we’re capable of doing ourselves, and then paying to ship those foods across the country and the world. A healthy food system keeps things close to home, preserving their nutrients and protecting our farmers.
Demo Day this Saturday
Join us this Saturday, July 13th, as we explore the various tools available for batch cooking in preparation for canning. July 20th, we’ll look at canning techniques and tools and talk more about pickling!
Batch Cooking for Efficiency
Batch cooking means to prepare large quantities of a recipe, rather than just enough for the upcoming meal. It does not need to be a massive amount at the start; just big enough to test the recipe before you commit to a larger project. Think of when you make enough for leftovers; that’s batching!
Really large recipes can be intimidating; has it been tested? What if you want to modify the taste? Guessing and experimenting can be costly if it ruins the day’s work! Try with a smaller batch to finesse your flavours, but make sure to take clear notes! To be able to scale your project for a bigger event later in the summer, you need to be consistent with measuring what goes in.
Pick your Tools
The right tools make so many tasks much faster than when our grandparents canned at home. Many of these tools are modifications on the classics, sometimes improved, sometimes simplified.
Like a tomato corer; Chef’n (a team of Chefs making kitchen tools) has modified their Hullster to be a robust tool that will pull out the toughest and deepest of tomato stems, without removing any of the delicious red flesh.
Or the Sauce Master; instead of blanching and peeling your tomatoes for sauce and salsa, this auger tool will separate the skins and seeds quickly, saving you time and hassle.
There’s lots of cheaper tools out there, so please be mindful of what you’re buying! We handle all of our warranties here in store, so we find out pretty quickly if something doesn’t work. Smaller tools make sense to purchase, but the larger ones are simple enough to share.
Choose your Favourites and PRACTICE
As your recipes come out tasting great, try canning in small batches early in the season. This helps you get your canning skills dialed in and collect all of your equipment so that you can plan for those larger work parties. Consider volunteering to help more experienced friends with their canning projects so you can learn from them, then see if you can duplicate it at home.
Remember, start small and work up to the larger projects. A dozen jars is more than enough to practice, we’ll often just do 4-5 at a time depending on the recipe and what we picked up at the farmers market.
Share some of your stories in the comments; what have you experimented with? Did it work out? Any stories to learn from?