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Food Preservation


Food Preservation

How-To's on putting food aside: canning, freezing, drying, much more...

Location: North Carolina
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Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 19, 2011 at 10:44am
Lovely lovely.  So excited about all your work Pat and Lynda.  I'm getting together with a woman today to discuss implementing some of these ideas and just discovered a nice swap club.  It's all happening and glad of it.
Comment by Lynda Reynolds on April 19, 2011 at 10:27am
Pat: I think it's awesome you had so many show up for your canning class.  I had about half a dozen.  I like working with a group, too; it makes the work go faster and it's fun to share.  I have a small group of ladies that go up to my cabin during tomato canning season and we can all weekend.  Last year we canned about 200 pounds of tomatoes...this year we'll most likely double that.  A couple of the gals have small fruit orchards, so our plan is to have three or four canning weekends this year...it's something we're all looking forward to.
Comment by Pat Johnson on April 19, 2011 at 9:21am

I wish we all had the connection you have Lynda. I sure like the idea of the food not going to waste. A lot of produce gets thrown out each year because it is not up the the American Standard (looks perfect even if it tastes like crap). If you you can can it rather than toss it it goes a long way towards sustainability. My last canning class had standing room only with 46 in attendance and they all stayed for two and a half hours while I canned several items. Having it at the local Natural Food Store probably helped the attendance.

The Canning Club will undoubtably end up with a core group of worker bees (like any orgainization) and a lot of "come & go" folks who show up if its convenient (not too committed). However, the "come & go" folks are the future leaders so you gotta have em and try to bring em along. Plus they bring in other members that may turn out to be worker bees!

I have always liked the social aspect of group activities as oppsoed to working alone. It makes the work more fun and often its easier/more efficiant if there are several people doing the task (asembly line kind a stuff). I also think it would be a good idea to can what is ripe when it is ripe and put the excess in a community stockpile to be bartered to those that didn't show up for that particular canning and get some for themselves. Thus the need for the value points or some system where there isn't a need for face to face bartering). Say the club goes out to the fields and picks Blueberries, makes jams, jellies, preserves & pie filling with 100lbs of blueberries (I can pick about 10lbs an hour so if 5 of us go it would only take a short morning). Now those 5 folks spend the day canning the blueberries and take home a few jars each. There will still be a lot more jars than can be used by the 5  so they would be left in the community stockpile and each be givin a credit for whatever amount of points canned blueberries are worth. Next week a different group of folks goes out and cans turnip greens and does the same thing (now the community stockpile has blue berries & turnup greens and two seperate groups have credits that can be used for either. Maybe after the summer is done there is a stockpile of 25 or 30 items and 40 or 50 people have credits.....Kind of a nice to be able to get canned potatos when you need them intead of having to have a big pantry containing a little of everything. Just a thought. The club would be good even if we just canned what each of us could use and barter among ourselves.

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 18, 2011 at 12:26pm

Hey Lynda,


How perfect...a way to use the produce that does not sell at the market.  Maybe market managers all over the country can start a canners club program for those of us interested in buying at a discount or bartering canned goods for what did not sell that day.   

Comment by Lynda Reynolds on April 18, 2011 at 10:13am
WOW!  I manage a small Certified Farmers Market and one of the very best perks is the dicounted produce I get at the end of the day to can.  My market is on Monday and on Tuesday I spend the day canning.  I have a couple market famers that will trade boxes of produce for a couple jars of canned goods.  I had a couple canning *classes* last year, but not a lot of people signed up...I'm wondering what will happen this year.  Pat, I think your canning club is a perfect idea...keep us all updated on how you get it planned out...it would be great to use your plan here. 
Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 18, 2011 at 9:09am

Hmmmm.  Sounds complicated but can work I'm sure.  I was thinking a little more on the line of going to a farmer and saying....if you give me a bushel or two of tomatoes I will return  jars of canned tomatoes for your pantry.  The barter would be between me (or the canning club) and the farmer since I know a lot of busy farmers that can't put up the harvest.  But your system puts a "cash" value to each type of canned food to create its own monetary system which I totally like as well.  It seems there would be some standards you would need to set and some labeling requirements but with enough people being really into it, it could work.

I think I will start more directly with farmers and grow the system slowly.  I'm thinking a canning club will be like buyers clubs but with the added dimension that the farmer is exchanging or discounting some of the produce for his or her share of the canned goods.

Since you can generally figure 2-3 pounds of tomatoes (for example) to a quart of canned tomatoes you should be apple to work out a fair exchange.  Quality and technique should be established.  When I can tomatoes I like them peeled, seeded and diced.  Others throw them in whole, skins, seeds and all.   But your way sets the work to be done communally so everyone is one the same page when the food is being canned and could establish standard collectively.  


I dig this Pat.  Should be interesting to hear how others are approaching it.  Makes good sense. 

Comment by Pat Johnson on April 18, 2011 at 8:51am

Any pointers/suggestions are welcome Harriet. Initially, our general idea is to can what is available at his farms in the season. So for instance meats & soups in the winter. Veggies & fruits at the peak of their harvest...That way it will be as fresh as possible. Obviously not everyone will be at every canning session so thats where the barter system comes in. We are will be trying to pin value/barter-points on each items we can. For instance, Sauerkraut has to be chopped/shreaded & fermented (labor intensive) before canning so gets extra value points as opposed to carrots that are just rough-brushed and cut into pieces prior to canning. Meats would get some extra points due to the cost of the ingredient. Anyway, the barter value gets pretty complitcated but if a value can be determined it would make it really easy to barter without having to negotiate or cause friction among the members. If you have 10 jars of excess canned potatos with a value of 3 you can trade them for anything up to a total value of 30. Maybe 4 jars of boneless-skinless chicken or 2 jars of Blueberry jelly a jar of sauerkraut and 1 jar of pickled eggs? Of course at the end of the day it will all come down to supply & demand but if there is enough supply the value system would allow everyone to simply list their excesses and or bring them to a meeting, put them in a pile, be given a reciept with value points, and then simply pick & chhose other items up to the value point on their reciept(?).

 Things to consider and think about. I think the initial interest in the club will deminish quickly if there isn't an ongoing reason to return. So things like bartering, foraging, "pick-your-own-farm" outings, learning to make your own corned beef, ferment sauerkraut & kimchi, make pickles, Pickled Okra, Salsa....... to can. The club might also include dehydrating, smoking, salting....and other food preservation methods.

Comment by Harriet Fasenfest on April 18, 2011 at 8:26am

Nice one Pat.  Just the thing we will be seeing more of - canning clubs.  I have a very funny image from the 1930's of the same.  Don't know how to upload it to this site but that's okay.  Its very cute though. 

A few women from the neighborhood are getting together to discuss what we all want to put up for the season and splitting the work.  Me on ketchup for example and another on applesauce.  Sometimes we will work separately and split the haul and other times work together and have a party.  These canning clubs are a great example of the systems that arise to meet our changing values.

Its great that you have negotiated a bit with a farm source and that you have entered into a barter agreement.  Seems very smart particularly since many small farmers are too busy to put up their own produce.  It happens!!

Here in Portland we have lots of buyers clubs, U-picks and CSAs (community supported Agriculture) but none, as I know of it, that service and grow specifically for canning clubs.  I think the service will grow as we canner (householders?) grow the movement.  But your approach of bartering out for a return of the share is brilliant and I think I will bring that up with the group.   

Thanks for taking the lead good buddy.  Hope we all meet at a hoedown one of these days. 

Comment by Pat Johnson on April 18, 2011 at 8:10am
I spent yesterday morning at Suporganic Farms discussing the Barter we are committing to. I agreed to can some veggies for him in exchange for the vegies I need. I also agreed to help him form a "canning-club" which he hopes will buy & can his produce (not a requirement). I had already thought about the canning-club so figured it wouldn't hurt to point them to his source of organic produce at the same time. I agrred to help get the club up and running but not to be a one man show (running it). I explained that I had too many interests to actually be super involved but would likely be the biggest supporter/helper he'd have. I posted a few photos of his early crops this rear on a album called "Superganic Farms" (on my profile page).
Comment by kristin clapper on April 12, 2011 at 10:13am
Terresa, I have! I love them! We even did Parsnip chips- actually did kale and parsnip chips as our superbowl appetizers :) We put some honey and cayenne pepper on them... YUM!

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