Small Batch Home Canning. Yes, you can!

Does the word “canning” evoke images of vats of boiling water, bushels of produce and rows of jars? If so, you don’t know small batch canning! pickled oranges

Small batch canning is easy, safe and requires only a few inexpensive, simple pieces of equipment. In fact, you probably already own most of what you will need! There are two methods of canning: water bath and pressure. Water bath is safe for high-acid foods such as pickles, chutneys and jams. Pressure is safe for low acid foods such as meats, stocks, and low-acid vegetables (i.e. corn, beans). Let’s talk about water bath canning.

To safely water bath can you will need:

That’s it!

My “Preserving The Harvest. Small Batch Canning With Tess” class is now live. In my small, hands-on class, I will take you through the process from start to finish. During class, you’ll graze on an assortment of goodies prepared with the recipe you are learning to can canning w guestthat day and accompanied by lots of sparkling wine. At the end of class, you’ll leave with your own jar of preserved goodness plus access to the recipes. If there isn’t a class scheduled at a time that works for you, request one! I will to my best to accommodate you.

Small batch preserving is not only easy, safe and satisfying. it’s also economical and environmentally responsible. Jars are reused rather than being thrown away. Children jam tartsare fascinated with canning. Preserving with children teaches them the values of thriftiness and environmental responsibility, plus it’s just plain fun! Don’t forget that home canned goods make great gifts, too. There’s no feeling quite like admiring your own little stock of home canned goods. I hope you will allow me to show you how simple it is to make small batch preserving a part of your life.

Bon appetit!

A September Day in the Minervois

The Minervois, a region of the Haute Langue D’Oc famous for its wine, is so rich in beauty, history, wine and gastronomy that it is impossible to cover it one short, sweet post (or 100 posts). Instead, I will share one dazzling day I spent there last month.  The day began with a one hour drive, gradually climbing from seaside Agde to the lively market village of Olonzac with its particularly poignant WWI era war memorial.This was one of the most beautiful French drives I’ve ever taken, and I’ve taken many beautiful drives throughout France.  It stunned me, truly. With the  vendage (the annual grape harvest) underway, I often found myself behind harvest machinery and trucks laden with just-picked grapes. Given the incredible scenery all around me, I didn’t mind the delays. I stopped to admire vines set in a landscape of  gently rolling vineyards interspersed with warm brown villages and church steeples for as far as one can see. At the time of vendage, the vines are so heavily laden with grapes that seem ready to burst!Lunch was in Olenzac, a salad of fresh anchovies and tapenade accompanied by a chilled rosé. The vendage machinery rumbled through the town and the smell of the harvest filled the air. The vendage is the most important time of year, and you can feel the excitement. After lunch, I drove upward to the ancient Cathar village of Minerve,  in 1207 the site of one of the last Cathar sieges and massacres. Cathars were a threat to the power of the one Church and thus were pronounced heretics. Set high on a natural rock outcropping amongst sheer, deep ravines in a gorge carved by the river Cesse, one can easily see its fortress attributes. The drive to Minerve and the walk across the stone bridge spanning a deep ravine to the village (no cars allowed) is dramatic and beautiful. Leaving Minerve, I climbed higher, entering the Park Natural du Haute Languedoc. The landscape becomes more austere. Here and there lie the ruins of communal farms abandoned long, long ago. Fencing and the occasional sight of horses or cows shows that this land is still being utilized. 

The Parc has many well-marked trails, and I spotted a few hikers . As I drove back down to the sea, I passed many lovely and graceful châteaux. Most were built in the 18th century by vintners who grew rich on the wines of the Minervois. The downhill perspective of my return was equally enchanting. This is one drive I could never tire of!