Sunday, August 23, 2009

Canning & Preserving Workshop

On Saturday we had a busy afternoon, hosting a workshop on canning & preserving foods. In the course of three hours we made two kinds of salsa: a classic spicy tomato salsa, and a peach-mint salsa, both made with exclusively local ingredients (including salt from Goderich, apple cider vinegar from Pfilsingers, honey from Knechtels Apiaries in Wellesley, produce from local farms like Floralane, peaches from Niagara, and cilantro, mint & garlic from our garden)!

Participants paid a small fee, and we provided hand-outs, all the ingredients, jars and canning equipment, as well as samples of each salsa to take home. Participants in the workshop were largely people involved in the local 100-mile diet challenge, hoping to pick up new tips on how to preserve local foods for the winter season. While working at chopping the vegetables and preparing the salsa, waiting for the jars to steam in the canner, and touring the yard and garden during our break, participants had a good time swapping recipes and 100-mile diet ideas. It sounds like some future canning bees may come out of this event, as people got excited about the prospect of purchasing large bushels of vegetables in bulk and continuing the preserve foods together as a group. To see spin-off initiatives like this, which grow out of the workshops we host here, is one of the most rewarding aspects for me! Here are the recipes:

100-Mile Tomato Salsa

Yield: approximately 7 x 500 ml jars

12 jalapeno peppers, seeded & diced*

10 1/2 cups (about 30) roma tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped**

3 cups onions, coarsely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups peppers, coarsely chopped

¾ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cans tomato paste


* wear rubber gloves when working with jalapenos

** to peel tomatoes or peaches more easily set them into boiling water for

3-5 minutes, then plunge immediately into cold water

1) 30 minutes before canning will begin, fill canner with hot water and bring to a boil. Have kettle with hot water ready to top up the canner if necessary.

2) Prepare all ingredients as directed.

3) Place 7 pint (500 ml) jars in canner over high heat.

4) In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reaches desired consistency.

5) Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Place snap lids into boiling water for 5 min to soften sealing compound.

6) Ladle salsa into hot jar within ½ inch (1 cm) of top rim. This is the head space. Remove any air bubbles by sliding rubber spatula between glass and food. Readjust head space to ½ inch. Wipe jar rim removing any stickiness.

7) Centre snap lid on jar, apply screw band just until finger tight. Place jar in canner. Repeat for remaining salsa.

8) Cover canner. Return water to a boil. Process 20 minutes (counting from when water returns to a boil). Remove jars and set apart on a heat-proof surface. Cool for 24 hours. Check jar seals. Sealed lids curve downward.

9) Wipe jars, label and store in a cool, dark place.

100-Mile Peach Mint Salsa

Yield: approximately 7 x 250 ml jars

6 cups peeled peaches, chopped (about 12 peaches)

¾ cup onion, finely chopped

¾ cup pepper, finely chopped

3 Tbsp jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

6 Tbsp honey

¾ tsp pickling salt (Sifto)

6 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped

1) Combine all ingredients except mint in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2) Stir in mint and cook for 1 minute.

3) Follow canning instructions as described above.

4) Process 10 minutes for ½ pint (250 ml) jars.


Chadwick, Janet. The Busy Person’s Guide to Preserving Food.

Greene, Janet, Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan. Putting Food By.

Topp, Ellie and Margaret Howard. Small-Batch Preserving.

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