Long Island's plethora of farm stands has created a bounty of another kind -- novice canners. Home cooks are looking for ways to preserve the harvest long after the last tomato is picked, ear of corn is shucked or pepper has been plucked off the vine.
With a little education and practice, Long Islanders can go shopping all winter in their own pantries.
Relearn traditional art
"At one point home canning was a necessity," says Jeri Woodhouse, owner and instructor of A Taste of the North Fork specialty kitchen in Cutchogue. "Then, we got away from doing it. Now, with the push to preserve farmland and eat locally, more and more people are interested in preserving the harvest."
Another reason to learn canning and freezing techniques is to save money.
Maryann Birmingham, who teaches canning techniques for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, estimates that you can save up to half of what the grocery store charges when you can your own tomatoes.
"And, you can't forget the satisfaction of knowing exactly what is going in the jar," says Birmingham, who cans with her children and grandchildren. "You control the sugar. You control the salt."
What you need to know
"The biggest concern is cleanliness," says Birmingham. "You want to avoid any possible food-borne illnesses." This includes the work surface, produce and utensils. The second step in avoiding illness is proper canning times and temperatures. And, especially important for novices, following a recipe.
What you'll need
Birmingham estimated that a start-up kit of a water-bath canner with a rack and necessary tools such as tongs, jars, lids and labels runs around $50. A dozen jars will run around $20. "You can usually find a start-up kit at your local hardware store, Kmart, Target or Walmart," Birmingham says.
INFO 631-727-7850, ext. 356
FEE $20 per class, includes all supplies and you'll go home with at least one jar of preserved tomatoes.
WHAT TO EXPECT Learn the basics of food preservation. The class will focus on USDA-approved methods for canning fruits and vegetables.
Canning club days at Southampton Historical Society
WHEN | WHERE Class dates will be announced in September and October. Southampton Historical Museum, 17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton
INFO 631-283-2494, southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org
FEE Depends on produce being canned, call to register and learn class dates and produce
WHAT TO EXPECT You bring your own jars and lids and the class splits the cost of produce. "Even if you don't know how to can, you should still come," says Lynn Egan, director of programs and special events. "There will be some instruction and beginners are welcome."
Preserving produce in a jar
INFO 631-734-6100, tasteofthenorthfork.com
FEE $20, must RSVP by phone or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, supplies included
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN Demo will include a corn relish, the technique of pickling, basic canning techniques and canning dos and don'ts.
Harvesting your herbs
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 10, Sang Lee Farms, 25180 County Rd. 48, Peconic
INFO 631-734-7001, sangleefarms.com
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN Techniques of drying and freezing fresh herbs. "You'll learn how to do these things safely," says Karen Lee, co-owner of Sang Lee Farms. "Some herbs are best dried, some frozen and some frozen in oil. You'll learn which technique is best for which herb."
Canning and preserving workshop
WHEN | WHERE Noon-2 p.m. Aug. 27, Sur la Table, 1468 Northern Blvd., Manhasset
INFO 516-365-3297, surlatable.com
FEE $75, register online or in store
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN Class will cover pickling and preserving. You'll get the basics in this hands-on workshop covering sweet and savory items. Recipes will include spicy tomato ketchup, blackberry jam, watermelon rind pickles and pickled roasted peppers.