It may be odd to hear but I remember being in South America and looking forward to the time that I would have a place and could start preserving food. I guess we always want what we do not have. A lot of it was due to reading the site Well Preserved, and through blogging we became friends and I started attending their events like Home Ec night.
So when they asked me if I wanted to come to their Green Bites class on preserving at the Evergreen Brickworks I didn’t hesitate. After all, I just brought home 20lbs of concord grapes and had no idea what to do with them.
But I was still intimidated.
Sure I can cook but learning how to can and preserve seems like a whole other, very complicated beast. Also, I don’t want to kill anyone with a jar of jam. This is exactly what the Green Bites workshops are all about. Somehow we have lost the art of preparing food and have no idea where to go. Evergreen Brickworks holds skill sharing sessions to connect people in the community.
Joel and Dana are the perfect people to learn from. They don’t have a formal cooking background but are so passionate about sharing what they know. Their approach makes things less intimidating. First off the group tries some food that they have canned, fermented and dried.
They also teach us that it can be quite easy and there are only two rules:
1) Work clean
2) Follow a tested recipe.
With this in mind, we don’t need to fear botulism.
And that is where the formal lecture ends and the hands-on work begins. The spicy green beans we just tried were pickled and we’re going to make them. As Joel takes us through the process we learn practical things like how long food can be stored, what happens when jars cool to fast and when to use a water bath over a pressure cooker. With veggies and spices in the jar Dana helps us put the brine over the jar and within ten minutes we are done.
It was so much easier than I expected.
People in the class are at varying levels so there are a lot of questions. But in between safety questions people have questions that I know I will have too, like if the jar is twice as big can I just cook it twice as long? Why should I use bottled lemon juice over a lemon? What are easy recipes to start with?
I am ready to tackle these concord grapes.
We move onto talking about fermented food, a class that is coming up soon and I’m thinking I should take. I had no idea what fermenting was and realize I have probably eaten a lot of it. Joel shows us how easy it is to do with lemons and says that bacon isn’t that much more difficult.
Now that is a challenge I want to tackle.