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I have scheduled the first meetings of the canning club I am starting. The first meetings will be be duplicates that allow everyone who is interested to make one or the other (one weekend morning and the other weekday evening). We will take a quick tour through my shop and chat about what everyone has, doesn't have, likes, doesn't like, is interested in and not interested in.... From there we will try to agree on a date for our first group canning event (tomatos in July). We'll do these group canning events in smaller groups of those interested and available for each event. We'll also try to determine the best time for quarterly meetings where we try to get all members to attend and bring their canned goods to show and trade. We will also build a networking circle where everyone is looking for oportunistic ways to aquire items to be canned. We've already had one member offer a u-pick oportunity for 50 cent a pound tomatos (July event). We also have the Superganic Farm guy who will sell us ceritfied/organic veggies to can (September event). We'll do meats, stews and soups in the colder months. I'll keep you appraised as to how the club works out as we proceed.

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I just *liked* your fb page...I guess I should have know you'd already linked to CAA!

Pat Johnson said:
Thanks Lynda. I noified them of the club and linked them to the Club's facebook site.

Lynda Reynolds said:

Pat: If you haven't already done so, let them know about your Pensacola Can Can Club over at

Canning Across America.  They asked for information on clubs and or groups like yours a few days ago...they too have a Face Book page you could share with.

This was sent out to the Canning Club Activity email list this morning.

 

I met with the folks at the City Of Pensacola's Sanders Beach/Corine Jones Community Center (http://www.playpensacola.com/centers.asp?centerID=12764#http://www.... ) and worked with them to schedule a Food-Canning class to be held on Saturday July 23rd at 9:00am.

In order to get the class at the Community Center without paying an arm & a leg it had to be a class that was offered to anyone who wished to attend (General public). So this is not an official "Pensacola Can Can Club" event. This class will be open to the public but taught by the representitives of the Pensacola Can Can Club (me and possibly a club volunteer or two). Although this is not an exclusive club event it will allow the club members that are trying to learn to "can" to attend a class that is in a 3 million dollar air conditioned facility rather than sweating outside at my place or trying to squeeze into another member's home.

I (we) won't charge anything to teach the class, but there will be a $5 per person fee that goes to the Community Center. The community Center is huge and can accomodate any number of attendees that sign up. It's a good outreach to the public and of course will likely lead to new members in our club. We'll first see how the class works and then possibly schedule others periodicaly throughout the year.

We can have a Club meeting before or after the class at the Community Center if we choose.

This class will contain a demontration as well as instruction. Although the demonstration will focus on Pressure Canning we will also discuss Waterbath canning. I'm not yet sure what we will can. That may be determined by Club member's request. Generally a Canning class lasts between 2 & 3 hours. The Pressure canning process itself takes approximately 2 hours from start to finish (assuming we do something that doesn't require too much prep work).

The first of two initial meetings was heal last evening. Their were about 10 folks that attended. Saturday the larger group of about 20 will meet. I decided last night to incoporate a group canning event into the meeting on saturday. The canners will arrive an hour early and get the chicken in the jars and in the canner before the meeting begins. and finish up during or right after the meeting ends.

Seems like (based on last night) that the largest group were beginner canners and they wanted to can something NOW! I didn't want to let them down.

New ideas that came up were......

  •  look into how to particiapte in the the October county fair (display of compete in canned goods)
  • Form a small group to set up at the farmers market to display canned goods and promote the club
  • Network and look for churches that might allow us to use their kitchens periodically to do group canning events in

I will incorporate these ideas and lessons learned into this Saturday's meeting.

Wow, what a diverse and interesting group. We have almost 30 members to date. I think our initial meetings were a BIG success. It was interesting to me that we had folks from north of Montgomery, Atmore & Brewton and as far west as Mobile in attendance of one or both of the initial meetings. We canned about 35 pounds of Chicken at today's meeting and those that participated took home the bounty at cost! We went over some of the pressure canning basics during the process of canning and during the meeting. I explained that the classes are much more comprehensive and it would be a good thing to attend one of them if you are newer canner. The next scheduled class will be at the Sanders Beach Community Center on Saturday July 23d at 9:00am. The cost is $5 per person and all the money goes to the Community Center. It will be a great location for the class with seating for 300, a kitchen and air conditioning, Click here for the Sander Beach Community Center website. Please try to attend so that we can ensure a good showing and enhance our chances of doing future classes on other aspects of food preservation at that facility. I would think we will have about 30-50 people in the class. This will also serve as a club meeting (immediately after the class). Let me know if you are going to attend so I can know in advance.

Facebook
Please take the opportunity to check out the Club's facebook site and if you are a facebook user click "like" to promote the club to other Facebookers. The Facebook site will be a place where we announce club activities (email notifications will be sent too). Click here for the  Facebook Page


Ideas

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas that could help the club. Some ideas that came up during the initial meetings were...

  •  Figure out how we might be able to participate (competitions or display) in the county fair program and similar venues in an effort to promote the club and it's mission to spread the food preservation agenda.
  • Look into setting up a table at the farmers Market to promote the club and its agenda.
  • Ask the members to notify us of U-Pick-It opportunities, individuals fruit trees that might be available for us to pick and can from and other opportunities for canners on the lookout for items to can.
  • Ask members to see if their friends are interested in the club. Maybe talk to their fellow church members or social groups to see if their are others interested.

Group Canning Events
I think everyone wants to do more group canning events and I'm all for it too. These group canning events can be large groups or small groups of as little as 2 members so if you have something you want to can let me know and lets CAN it! We were going to try to do tomatoes but the U-Pick-It farms say the season is past for tomatoes. So unless someone is willing to pay Farmer's Market prices we'll have to wait till next year. Don't be bashful about putting your idea forward. There may be others that would also like to do the same thing.

  •  We have a possible opportunity to can pears in the next couple months and if everyone will try to acquire & freeze some figs and other fruits we might be able to do a group event where we can various preserves and jams.
  • We have a request for canning fish that could be combined with more meat canning. This one could be scheduled in advance since we don't have to watch for the fruit or veggies to be ripe.
  • Near the end of the year I have access to thousands of pounds of grapefruit so we will be able to CAN grapefruit-juice for the cost of the JAR LIDS.
  • Anyone got any ideas on what we could can in the near future where we might be able to get the ingredient cheap because its in season or coming ripe in the fields?

Sausage Making
Although some of our food preservation events may not be specifically "canning" related we will make them available to the club members who want to participate in the events. In the fall when the weather cools we will host a sausage making event where we take raw ingredients and make everything from Brats, Boudan, Italian Sausages to Vegan & Seafood sausages.

Lacto Fermenting
In the fall we will do a group event were we make and ferment sauerkraut and Kimchi and then can it when it's done fermenting. Probiotics are hot items in the foodie circles today and we can make em ourselves.

Soups, chili, stews....
This will be a cooler month group event(s)

Dehydrating
Several folks in the group said they were interested in dehydrating and I promised to provide a great resource website for dehydrating. Click here

Superganic Farms
We will hear from Bill Resmondo of Superganic Farms at the July Canning class held at Sanders Beach. We will also have an opportunity to can some of his organic produce at one of our group canning events in the near future. Check out his produce on the following YOUTUBE video Or go to his Website

Today we held another group canning event and canned 25lbs of fish (hafe smoked and half not) and also 25 pints of assorted varieties of dried beans. About 13 members participated in July temps and a 70% chance of rain! Pretty good attendance for the circumstances. We continue to add 2 to 3 new members to the activity email list each week.
That's just wonderful, Pat!  I love hearing you're spreading the news!

Notice to the club member sent out today........

 

Canners,
First of all I want to ask the folks that have canned chicken, fish or dried beans at one of the group canning events to try some of what they have canned. Its no good to can it if you're not going to eat it. If you did smoked salmon, put a bar of cream cheese in a bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds. Then mash the 1/2 pint jar of smoked salmon into the cream cheese and try it on a Ritz (Smoked Salmon Spread)! If you got Chicken, make chicken-salad by simply adding a little mayo and some relish and put it on a sandwich. Next time you come to a meeting lets talk about what we're canned and if it was good to eat, how you prepared it and if you'd can it again.

 
Hope to see you all at the canning class on Saturday morning.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I have been doing some networking with the farmers and farmers markets in our immediate area. My thought was to see if we could come up with a Win/Win situation where the farmer or market got something for produce that was going to end up being thrown out and where the canning Club got can-able produce at a great price. Kinda like the canning tomatoes at the U-Pick-It farms.

Anyway, I think I have a couple potential partners with one of the local farmer's markets and an actual farm. Consider the following.....

  • At the optimum cost savings end of the spectrum we wouldn't be able to decide what we are going to can but rather can what was available instead. It's a much more sustainable way to go about it because what we can would always be local and in season. Today I could have bought 25lbs of great canning tomatoes for $10. I could have also picked up 10 or 20 lbs of stuff he was going to throw away for next to nothing. I'm talking about apples with a small bruise, Acorn Squash with a single bad spot, Green Beans that were at their peak but needed to have something done with them "RIGHT NOW". I haven't yet figured out how the club can make this work but I sure think the idea is worth further investigation. I hate to see food (produce) wasted and if the farmer or market can get something for what they were going to throw away AND we got a deal on it???? I'm not talking about garbage but rather produce at it's best with regard to taste and readiness for canning. Most Americans have been brainwashed into buying only the most appealing "to the eye" produce regardless of taste, texture or quality. That's why we can rarely get good produce at the supermarket. All that brainwashing has left the farmers and markets with tons of unsellable produce even though there's nothing wrong with the product.


The devil is in the detail of course. How would we be able to buy the stuff AND make sure we could get enough canners to can it? I don't want to run out and buy 100lbs of produce (even if I can get it for 75% off) unless I can recoup my money by sharing the cost with the rest of the canners and getting it all canned. I wouldn't mind occasionally taking a loss but wouldn't want to be left holding the bag every time. So be thinking about this and lets see if we can figure out a solution. I'm definitely open to suggestions & welcome your ideas.

Group canning event for tomatoes
In the meantime I am ready to schedule a group canning event for canning tomatoes. We might do some stewed, some diced, some tomato-juice, some salsa. The local U-Pick-It farms have all given up on tomatoes for the year but the farmers-markets get theirs from Georgia and tell m they will be able to get canning tomatoes when we need them. While doing this event I might ask that everyone agree to put up an extra dollar or two. With that extra dollar or two I could work with the market to buy whatever culls he might have and the participants in the group would can that produce at the event along with the tomatoes. The price on the canning tomatoes wouldn't be dirt cheap because we would be buying them at our convenience as opposed to when the market had enough culls that they were about to throw them out. Still they would be well under $1 per pound and maybe as cheap as 30 or 40 cents per pound. When I picked them up I would look for opportunities on the produce they would sell cheap, or give me, and bring that to the event. Each member would pay for their share of the tomatoes and what ever the "opportunity veggies" cost with a limit of $1 to $2 per person (if there were something worthwhile to buy when I get the tomatoes).

Let me know your thoughts and how many pints or quarts of tomatoes, and what style, you'd like to can. I normally do tomatoes in quarts since I use a lot of em and in large amounts, the salsas I typically do in pints. When and if I get enough folks expressing a interest in the event I will schedule it on a Saturday morning (seems like the best time for most folks). Let me know your preference for either August 6th or 13th. Anybody have a canning recipe for salsa that they think is particularly good? If someone wanted to do it on another day we might be able to work that in as well.

Pat -

 

You can count on us attending 99.9% of the time (unless Mal is out of town on business).

 

We are wanting to can ANYTHING !  We are open to every food item, every size, etc . . .

 

We have thoroughly enjoyed the classes, your instruction, fellowship with other canners, etc . . .

 

We truly appreciate all your work on organizing, planning and allowing us a place to hold these events!

 

I know this probably did not really answer your questions but . . . we are READY TO CAN anything !

 

For me personally, this is a dream come true that I could find someone who could pass down this skill - I have been looking for about 3 years to find someone who could teach me how to can !  And now that I have someone, I will be attending all that I can! 

 

Thanks so much for all you are doing!     Deb

Good Job, Pat.  Working with the vendors at the Farmers Markets and the Farmer is the way to go.  At the end of this Monday's market I came home with 25 lbs of green beans, 10 lbs of strawberries, 15 lbs of pickling cukes, 20 lbs of red onions, 15 lbs of beets and 20 lbs of white peaches (all for under $15.00 ).  I had dug 8 lbs of new potatoes that a.m. So yesterday I canned the green beans, beets, peaches, potatoes and pickled the cukes.  I dried the strawberries and  froze the onions. I started at 6 a.m. and did not finish until 8 p.m.  what a fun day...I loved every minute. Today I need to get out to my garden to pick and process what I have out there!  The commerical tomato growers' fields are ripening and that means I'll be processing tomatoes non-stop sometime in the next couple of weeks...can't wait! 

Keep up the great work, Pat.  I had a several people express an interest in canning at the Monday market...I'm going to do a water bath demo next Monday and then take it from there.  Maybe I can get a few more people to start canning...certainly don't have the following you're creating!

 

 

Yikes, we've had two group canning events so far and each time we had about 10 folks and canned 50 or 60 jars (of various sizes). We did chicken at the first event and both fish and dried beans at the second event. The next event is scheduled for August 20th and a've already got committments for 300+ pounds of tomaotes in 0ver 200 jars  (and I will likely get several more responses before the deadline). That's a lot of Tomaotes! I sure hope things go smoothly and everyone works well together. It's one thing to stuff some chicken or fish into a jar and load them nto a pressure canner, and quite another thing to have to slip skins, cut off unwanted parts of a canning tomato, dice, fill jars, make some into rotell style & some into salsa, waterbath....

I guess we'll see if this unlimited, no holds barrred, group canning thing will work or not at this event!

You'll do fine, Pat.  I canned over 200 pounds of tomatoes over a  cabin weekend last year.  I prepped them and ran through the Squeezo on day one...put the sauce in roasters for overnight and cooked that down on day two (jarred the stewed, diced and wholes on day 2) and jarred up the roaster sauces on day three. You'll have lots of help and that's half the battle.  This year I've rounded up 5 gals that will be helping with the tomato marathon and we have a motor for one of the Squeezos.  We'll be hauling our tomatoes and equipment back up to the cabin and process there...if we're lucky we'll be able to take a break and do a bit of trout fishing!

Hail the great Squeezo.  But I do believe you have the industrial model.  Mine in not nearly so large.

 

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