Two weeks ago (still can’t really wrap my head around this fact), I headed back to culinary school for a day of canning & preserving. During our restaurant externships, we have three required classes, scattered throughout the 6 months, to learn some new and different skills. In another month’s time, I will be heading back for a cheese-making class! But more on that when the time comes…
As excited as I was to go back to my familiar environment at school, I was even more excited to see and catch up with all my classmates, who I hadn’t seen in over a month. Lots of reuniting, hugging, and restaurant talk. Despite not having arrived from my sister’s wedding in California until that morning at 5 am, I somehow still had a lot of fun throughout the day.
I also gained a new appreciation and interest canning and preserving—something I really had no prior knowledge about until that day, besides a couple facts here and there. Makes sense given my obsession with mason and canning jars, right?!
Prior to the class, I always thought that canning & preserving required lots of specialized equipment. And while some forms of canning do (i.e. the pressure canning method), there are many forms of canning that you can do with just a very large canning pot, a rack, and some mason jars, which you can pick up at any hardware store.
Without going into too much detail about what we learned that day, I wanted to share a few facts of the day. Essentially, there are two forms of canning and preserving, using a hot water bath or pressure canning (which involves using a pressure canner). Whether or not you use one method or the other really depends on what you are trying to preserve.
Low-acid foods, which include most vegetables or meat, need to be canned using the pressure canner method to avoid the growth of bacteria (botulism) during storage. Using the pressure canner allows these low-acid foods to reach a temperature of 240 degrees, which is the temperature at which these bacteria are killed.
Whereas high-acid foods, which include most fruits, tomatoes, or pickled vegetables, only require the water bath method, which essentially involves placing the sterilized, filled jars into a rack lined pot, covered the jars with water by about two inches, and bringing it to a vigorous boil until the jars are sealed.
Obviously, more details are involved including how much head space to leave in the jar (which depends on the type of food you are canning), altitude differences, and changes depending on whether you are hot-packing or cold-packing the foods.
During the class, we ended up canning and preserving a bunch of different things, including:
- Rosemary Marinated Pork Loin (I never would of thought to can meat, but it tasted good)
- Granny Smith Apple & Pepper Jelly
- Mediterranean Pickled Cauliflower & Carrots
- Blueberry Star Anise Jam
- Clover Honey Orange Marmalade
- Pickled Lavender Scented Watermelon Rind
It was lots of fun and a very rewarding thing to do in the kitchen! Especially as a way to preserve all the fruits and vegetables of the summer throughout the year. To be honest, I’ve always wanted to learn how to can my tomato sauce that I make regularly—so I could simply open up a jar whenever I want. And now, I definitely will be tackling this at home at some point soon.
I even bought a few canning supplies (not necessary, but helpful) and a cheap canning pot (on Amazon) pretty soon after attending the class. It is definitely something I want to explore more in the kitchen and get creative with. Hopefully I’ll be able to make some time to experiment with it over the next couple weeks. I’ll be sure to share as I go!