As Chef Geddes said, canning and preserving are all about, "good ingredients and capturing that magic while it's at the peak of its truth." Well put, Chef.
While he spoke about the significance of canning in his personal life and his career, we were served a delicious, seasonal lunch. First was summer greens with Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese and fresh tomatoes. I believe the salad was tossed in a very light vinaigrette, but the standout of the salad was really the cheese. I liked it so much I asked if I could get it locally, and Chef Geddes told me it is sold at Whole Foods.
Then we were served our entrée, Heritage heirloom pork tenderloin with cheesy grits, charred cabbage, and a tomato salsa. Chef Geddes told me he went to West Virginia just for this rare breed of pig and hand selected the cuts of meat for his menu. The pork was really juicy and perfectly cooked, although I didn't ask the method. The cheesy grits were light in flavor and added a better texture than a mashed potato would have offered. The salsa was unexpectedly mild with a great tomato flavor. Chef told us that the salsa recipe comes in the recipe book with the Ball Canning Discovery Kit. I was completely sold on Ball recipes after he said that--I needed to make this salsa!
As we started eating our cheesecake in a jar (pictured in my previous post), Chef Geddes began to show us how easy it would be for us to prepare this salsa.
You need to know some basics to be able to safely preserve your summer produce. The first tip was to make sure your jars are sterile. You can do this by running them through the dishwasher or washing them with hot soapy water. You want to put your food in the jar while the food and jars are still hot. If you want to keep your sterile jar hot while you prepare your produce, then set them in a pot of hot water that is simmering but not boiling.
The next is to follow a recipe. There were some questions about ingredient substitutions, but the reality is--it may be unsafe to make adjustments. Spice can be changed but any other adjustments will affect the acidity and processing times. Recipes that are published by Ball are tested and follow FDA guidelines for food safety. This way there is no risk. I'm all for not dying of botulism, so I will follow the recipes.
When you are filling the jars, don't touch anywhere inside the lid or the lip of the jar. It's best not to risk any contamination. Leave about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar and then run clean knife around the inside of the jar down to the bottom to remove any air bubbles. Then top with lid and screw on band until it is tight.
Using the green rack in the Ball Canning Discovery Kit, you can safely lower the jars into a boiling water. This is a great tool for beginner canners (like me) who want the entire process to be simplified. Then process the filled jars according the time amounts in the recipe, and then allow to cool. If the lid allows any give when you press on it, then the processing was not successful and your product will not be safe to store on the counter. If this happens, you will have to refrigerate or eat immediately.
I agree with Chef Geddes' description of how canning can profoundly connect you to your food when he said, "it's like a memory that you can bring back and taste it." I know it seems a little cheesy, but when I am canning and preserving this summer, it is something that will bring me back to all of my experiences I have had this summer with food: our garden failing, our new love affair with farmer's markets, and our new appreciation for summer's bounty.
I had such a fantastic time at this event and learned so much that I want to share the excitement with my readers. That is why I'm giving away a Ball Canning Discovery Kit to one lucky reader!
Rules for entry:
- Only 1 entry per person.
- To enter, leave a comment and tell me what you'd like to use the canning kit to preserve this summer.
- If you do not have a blog with an email address or contact information listed on the blog, please leave your email address in the comments so I can contact you if you win! If you do have a blog that lists contact information, I will go there and get your information.
- No comments logged after 11:59 p.m., Sunday, August 8, will be considered for the giveaway.
- Winner will be announced here on the blog on Monday, August 9!
Good luck to everyone! You are all winners to me.