No matter whether you’ve got a kitchen garden of your own, frequent your area’s tailgate markets, are a member of a CSA, or simply purchase your fresh produce at the grocery store, it’s apparent all around that summer is upon us. Verdant, crisp cucumbers, scandalously juicy berries, firm crookneck yellow squashes, variously hued and shaped heirloom tomatoes and so, so very much more are literally ripe for the picking. If you’ve grown more than you can eat up straight away, or spy some gorgeous delicacy at the market that you’re just not sure what to do with, why not consider rendering your perishables into canned goods?
In recognition of the Can-A-Rama 2010 happening this weekend, wherein “canvolutionaries” will take up mason jars and put a lid on things nationwide (and internationally, too!), this week’s Small Measures celebrates the communal act of water bath canning. Sure, you can certainly work studiously from home, stirring pots in a hot kitchen, wooden spoon in one hand, gin and tonic in the other (lemon water for me!). But why do it alone when you can sweat, chop, and create lasting provisions in the company of friends and loved ones? Why not throw a canning party? Assemble a group of buddies, gather up the equipment and ingredients, and get your canners boiling!
You Too Can Can: Hosting an At-home Canning Party
Come summertime, when the bounty of the season threatens to overwhelm your garden and the tables at farmers’ market creak and groan under the weight of their offerings, consider hosting a canning get-together. Those already schooled in the trade can share tips and advice, while newbies will gain invaluable hands-on experience. Limit the number of guests so that everyone’s wares can get cooked on the stovetop space available. Or, you could invite loads of friends and turn the gathering into a sleepover, burning the midnight oil as you toil over simmering pots and sizzling pressure canners. Depending on what you’re making, you could even sample some of your creations for breakfast the next morning
CLICK HERE for the rest of ashley’s post + a canning party planning timeline after the jump!
Party Planning Timeline
Three Weeks Ahead (Clearly this won’t apply here, as I’m suggesting this event on a Friday and the Can-A-Rama commences the following day; instead, simply phone or send out a group e-mail to persons you think might be so inclined to gather in the kitchen for some canning action this weekend. This could be a mixer, too, serving as a group opportunity for future couples to mix and mingle…).
*Send invitations via e-mail or regular mail. Decide if you’d like guests to arrive with their ingredients, or if you’d like to include a trip to a nearby farmers’ market or U-pick farm as part of the day’s activities. Ask guests to come with a recipe and jars for making their items. Ask guests to share in advance what recipe they will be preparing to avoid duplications.
One Day Ahead
*Prepare appetizers or a small meal for your guests to nosh on. Have your kitchen clean and ready for cooking up a storm!
The Big Day
*Assemble all your equipment and be sure it is completely clean. Share in the work as you chop, cook, and can enough jars for each guest to head home with half a dozen or more gems for their pantry.
My editor, and very close friend, Nicole and I held a canning brunch at her place last August with about four other ladies, during the kick-off Can-A-Rama weekend. It was an absolute blast. We put up poached pears with lemon and thyme. Each attendee brought a potluck brunch-ish dish to share and we feasted and gloated after our work was done. Then, in October, Nicole and I went apple orchard-picking, gathering up a variety of magnificent locally grown apples (and feasted on requisite hot apple cider and straight-out-of-the-fryer apple cider donuts afterwards. HEAVEN, people, heaven). The next day, we peeled, cored, chopped, stirred, and pureed down many, many jars of apple butter to give away to the sales staff for promotion. It was a total labor of love and I look back on it, and the August gathering, quite fondly. Remember, if you like it, you shoulda put a lid on it (think Beyonce would be willing to share the royalties with me?)! -ashley