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Canning is the Way to Make Summer Stay
by Sarah Barry
Preserve Your Produce
Canning is a great option to finish food left over from your summer CSA or make use of that box of tomatoes your neighbor keeps leaving on your porch. Canning foods allows you to keep produce well past its typical shelf life without harmful preservatives or absurd amounts of sodium, and it creates little waste. The jars can be cleaned and recycled year after year, and it allows you to eat fresh, flavorful food in the cold seasons when eating locally becomes a challenge.
There are two different methods of canning: Hot water bath canning is the method used for high acid vegetable & fruits. Pressure canning is the process used in low-acid foods such as carrots, potatoes, soups, and stocks.
The process can seem daunting for beginners so it is recommended that first-time canners pick up a reliable canning book or take a class from an expert.
“Canning is a science. There is no reason to be nervous about the process but it is important to follow a tested recipe and do things in the correct order,” says Heather of the Lazickas of Lexington Co-op. She has learned to can by working with Kathy Manley, who teaches canning classes through the Co-op. Preparing and organizing your food and equipment in advanve helps to speed along prep work. Processing times vary by product, anywhere from 10 to 85 minutes, depending on what you’re making.
Canning is a great way to save food and money. The process itself is relatively inexpensive. There is not a lot of essential equipment in the hot water bath process but there are many items on the market that can make the process easier. A stock pot can be used in place of a canning pot. There are even tricks to avoid purchasing a canning rack, which keeps the jars from hitting the bottom of the pot while boiling.
“One thing I would recommend is a jar lifter, a fancy set of rubber tongs made to fit around the jars for pulling them out of the pot,” says Lazickas. “After all of the work that goes into canning, it’s worth it to make sure your jars make it out safely.”
The process is a rewarding one. Canned food is best enjoyed for up to a year after its been created. While it can still be safely consumed for well after that, some food might change texture and lose flavor upon sitting.
If you would like to learn more about the hot water bath canning process the Lexington Co-op is still offering classes in canning Hot Pepper Jelly and Concord Grape Jam. All classes take place at Artisan Kitchens & Bath (200 Amherst Street). Sign up at lexington.coop or calling 886-2667.
Apple Harvest Beer & Cheese Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serving Size: 4
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider
2 apples, peeled & chopped (I used pink ladies)
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
1 (12 oz) pumpkin beer
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup almond milk
16 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 oz brie, rind removed & cubed
Pecan Autumn Crumble
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups whole raw pecans
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. When the pot is warm, add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions, a pinch of brown sugar, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook onions until softened, about 5 minutes. Slowly add in the apple cider into the onions. Let the cider carmalize into the onions. Once the onions are carmalized, stir in the apples and thyme to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, around 8 minutes. After the apples are softend, add the beer, veggie broth, and cayenne.
Bring the soup to a simmer and cook until the apples are tender, around 5-10 minute.
At this point, make the crumble.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a cookie sheet. Mix the oats, pecans, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl. Add the melted butter into the mixture until everything is evenly distributed. Spread the mixture on the cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.
Once the crumble is in the oven, combine the flour and the almond milk and whisk until smooth. Set aside.
Puree the soup once the apples get soft. Based on preference, puree the soup less so it’s chunky, or more until it’s smooth. Once you have pureed the soup to your liking, transfer the soup to the stove pot and bring it to a low bowl. Then whisk in the milk and flour mixture and boil again the soup thickens slightly, around 5 minutes.
Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese and cubed brie until melted. Simmer the soup 5 minutes or until ready to serve.
Serve the soup into bowls and top with the pecan crumble.
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