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Canning and Food Preservation

By Lindsay Dowd

Most of the crops at the AMI farm are in peak production, which means that many of our mornings are spent harvesting cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, tomatillos, blueberries (my favorite), and more. Food preservation has become a high priority among our daily tasks and we are learning more about it every day.

We had a blast last Thursday, getting our hands dirty learning all about canning from former AMI Fellow Sarah Collins-Simmons. We learned about the basics of canning including: safety, equipment, time requirements, and more. We prepared beets, cucumbers, onions, and blueberries with some traditional canning recipes that will be saved for the 2016 AMI Farm Fellows.

Pickled beets:

As with any canning, we sterilized the jars, lids, spoons, and tongs. We boiled the beets for 25-30 minutes, removed the outer layer of skins, and sliced to ¼ inch. Next, we made a brine with one part water to two parts apple cider vinegar, and a ½ cup of honey, then boiled for 3-5 minutes. We were careful to wipe the top of the jar and lid to get a good seal and placed in a hot water bath for 40 minutes. (Our kitchen is at a high altitude so make sure to adjust hot water bath times to your own location and jar size.)

Dill pickles

We sliced the cucumbers in spears, added a brine of white vinegar and water, and topped with fresh dill from the garden.

Bread-and-butter pickles

We washed and sliced cucumbers and onions, added salt and placed in a bowl with ice for 3 hours. We made a brine with water, vinegar, and honey. We filled jars leaving ½ inch headspace and placed in hot water bath for 15 minutes.

We had a great day of learning and look forward to many upcoming canning adventures. The Highland County Fair is coming up September 5-12 and we hope to have some worthy entries in the canning category based on the great information that we learned from Sarah. Thank you!

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