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Friday, September 27, 2013

Canning Class with Celia at the UF/IFAS Extension in Fort Myers

UF/IFAS Extension (UF Extension) is a collaborative effort between federal, state and county governments and The University of Florida. You can read about them (Here).  

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They have all kinds of course offerings and online information. Everything from money management to maintaining your garden.

One of the courses they teach is a primer on canning. Celia was our instructor. She has a diverse educational background and has been at The Extension since 1985. Her course and teaching style are excellent.

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This class was very interesting. There are two processing methods used in canning, a boiling water bath or pressure canning.

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A major concern in canning is botulism poising. The most important factor that determines whether botulism can multiply in canning is the acidity of the food being canned.The higher the acidity of the canned product, the less likely botulism spores can become active.

High acid foods, such as fruit, can be processed with a boiling water bath. Low acid food which include most vegetables need harsher processing conditions to kill off any botulism spores that may be present. Pressure canning uses a sort of pressure cooker, and produces much higher heat than boiling.

After our slide show, we were given a demo of the canning process by Celia.

After the item to be canned is placed into the Mason jar the head space needs to be measured. This is the distance between the bottom of the lid and the top of the liquid in the jar.

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If the jar is too full the contents may boil out during the canning process. If the jar is not filled enough all the air may not be able to exit the jar resulting in a bad vacuum seal with the lid of the jar.

The air bubbles then need to be taken out of the jar as this will increase the head space as the jar is processed.

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The lid is then placed on the jar

 and locked into place

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and put into the vessel used for processing

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Remember to get a stainless steel support rack or it will rust.

They also come in plastic

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 or DIY (DIY).

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After this we then went into their kitchen area to play.

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The first thing we made were hot pack (Hot Pack) carrots. We parboiled (Parboil) the carrots, put them in jars and covered them in hot water.

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As carrots are a low acid food, they were processed in a pressure cooker.

We also made pickled carrots. These were first parboiled in vinegar and pickling spices. The hot vinegar mixture was then poured over the carrots. The jars were put into a boiling water bath to process. All the vinegar that was used enabled us to do that.

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The jars were then removed

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and left to cool. 

If you look closely at this photo you can see a small dimple in the middle of the lid. After about 5 minutes of cooling, you hear a small pop and a small concavity forms on the lid. This is one of the ways one tells if there is a good seal or not.

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We also talked a little about making jams and jellies

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As a going away present we were given a cookbook that had a lot of useful information on canning.

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We also learned how to make a "redneck" wine glass.

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This was made by putting a Ball jar on top of a glass candlestick holder. I never would have thought of that! Very clever.

I was now transformed into one of those that can't to one of those that can. Christmas is coming up. I see Ball jars filled with pickles and decorated with gingham ribbons as Christmas presents for friends and family!

Before I go I'd  like to remind everyone of Restaurant Week (Restaurant Week) which runs October 11th-20th in Fort Myers. One of the events they will be having will take place at Rabbit Run Farm (Rabbit Run Farm). It will feature chef Kristina (Chef Kristina) and chef Brandon McGlamery. Chef McGlamery was a semi finalist for best southern chef from the James Beard Foundation and featured chef for Restaurant Week. It will include a tour of the farm and a cooking demonstration.

Now that's that. Another review on forks.

UF/IFAS Extension
3406 Palm Beach Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33916

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