Back to basics: Learn to can your own food |

Back to basics: Learn to can your own food

Long a pursuit of past generations, canning food is experiencing a resurgence in Nevada County.

As families turn to growing fruits and veggies in home gardens again, preserving that home-grown fare is taking on more importance.

“There are a lot of younger people getting back into it,” said April Reese, who works in the nursery at Grass Valley’s A to Z supply.

Reese is offering a class on canning this weekend at The Union’s 8th annual Fall Home and Harvest Festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Reese, certified through the University of California, Davis, as a Master Food Preserver, has been canning for about 12 years.

“My husband was raised off a garden, so that’s sort of how I got into it,” Reese said. “I think people are getting into it because if you’re going to grow it, you’ve got to preserve it.”

Lyn Muth, who works with Reese, marveled at a pair of recent visitors to a canning workshop at the store.

“We had two girls in their mid-20s in here oohing and ahhing over the canning supplies in here,” Muth said. “Normally you’d think they’d only get that excited about shopping for clothes or something like that.”

Area residents are canning everything from apple butter to vinegars, fruits like lemons and peaches, lavender and tomatoes, Reese said.

“People like doing it because you know where it came from and you know how you canned it,” Reese said. “There are foods people don’t want to buy in the store when it’s out-of-season because they don’t know where it came from.”

Reese practices pressure-canning, heating foods in boiled water and placing them into waiting cans freshly pulled from simmering water. Back to the water they go for about 40 minutes until the can seals shut, Reese said.

At that point, they are set aside to cool for 12 to 24 hours before going onto the shelf.

Inexperienced canners frequently have a problem getting their cans to seal, one of the skills Reese plans to review this weekend, she said.

“At that point you’ve either got to make a new seal or put them into the fridge and eat it,” she said.

The Home and Harvest Festival is set to feature a number of do-it-yourself explanations in the Back to Basics exhibit including a homemade soap-making course and a beekeeping demonstration.

Reese is set to teach her course on Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 11:45 a.m.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

The weather forecast for the two-day festival is varied, according to the National Weather Service. Partly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s are projected for Saturday before dropping into the mid-60s, with mostly cloudy skies Sunday, when showers are possible.

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