This past weekend I took a seasonal canning class starring apples and cranberries taught by Marisa from Food In Jars. I'm not even going to lie, I was excited. Food In Jars was one of the first blogs I started following. I was a wee bit stoked to get to meet her. The class was held at The Kitchen Potager located on the grounds of Linden Hill Gardens. A beautiful gardening center set back in the countryside of Pennsylvania with a little fluff of an orange cat running about the property.
Considering how much I can each year and the fact that I've been canning for somewhere in the neighborhood of six years now you would think that I wouldn't have a need to go to a canning class. After all, I would hope that at this point I'm not leaving out some critical part of the process that would compromise the safety of my canned goods.
Don't worry, I'm not, but I still have some tricks and tips to learn and canning classes are great for that. I first learned this when I took a pressure canning class down in the DC area taught by Cathy over at Mrs. Wheelbarrow's kitchen. There are all of these little tid bits to canning that I somehow missed or just never came across. Besides I'm basically in the Bermuda Triangle for food bloggers over here so it's nice to get out and meet some other people who are into this whole shin dig.
Marisa is incredibly down to earth, easy to listen to, and easy to follow. She has the whole teaching thing down pat. I only hope that when I get into teaching some classes that they go as smoothly as hers did.
But here's the little tid bits that I picked up this time:
- If you are making a jam or a marmalade and it's getting too dry...well dry isn't the right word...more like it's starting to stick to the bottom and is getting too thick. Anyway, if that is happening you can add in some water to get things back to the way they should be. I don't know why I never knew that. It's not like water is going to mess with the acidity levels or anything. I guess I just had it in mind to stick to the recipe and not alter it at all. But adding water doesn't hurt.
- Marisa was making an apple cranberry jam and she started to add in a little honey. I had never canned with honey before because I know that honey can be a carrier of botulism. Call me crazy but I really don't feel like consuming any botulism spores in the near future. I asked her about it and she said that since apples and cranberries are so acidic it's OK to use a little honey for flavor because the acidity won't allow botulism spores to fester. So lesson #2 was: it's OK to use a little bit of honey under certain circumstances.
- I also learned that I can stack jars by staggering the layers so that water can still flow around them effectively. As long as the top row is under the proper amount of water that is OK to do.
- Apparently I also don't have to use a canning rack. A cooling rack or a thin cotton kitchen towel will do as well. As long as the jars are not in direct contact with the bottom of the pot and water can flow easily around them I am good to go.
The class was wonderful. The setting was beautiful and everyone was intent on taking in as much information as they could. There was learning, sharing, laughter, and snacks. I highly recommend taking a canning class if you have them in your area and are able to do so. You never know what you might glean or who you might get to meet.
Thanks again for a wonderful class Marisa!