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Canning and preserving for winter comfort

Participants can tomatoes during the East End Arts

Participants can tomatoes during the East End Arts Guild canning club in the kitchen of the Rogers Mansion at the Southampton Historical Museum grounds. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

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.

 

CLASSES

 

 

Preserving It Right

 

WHEN | WHERE 1-3 p.m. Aug. 18 and 25, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, 423 Griffing Ave., Riverhead

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

 

WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 21, A Taste of the North Fork specialty kitchen, 8595 Cox Lane, Unit 3, Cutchogue

INFO 631-734-6100, tasteofthenorthfork.com

FEE $20, must RSVP by phone or by emailing jeri@atasteofthenorthfork.com, 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

FEE Free

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.

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