Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Start to Becoming a Master Preserver....

I spent 3 days in Saratoga, NY filling up on knowledge about all things: canning, freezing, dehydrating, and more.

It was the first step in becoming a Master Preserver.

But, what on earth is a "Master Preserver?"

Answer: an individual who is proficient in all aspects of food preservation.

I personally love canning and think being knowledgeable about not only canning, but freezing and dehydrating is a way to better serve my customers.  I'm not officially a "Master Preserver" I need to do 30-40 hours of putting all I learned into practice.

The two women who taught the class, Judy and Katherine were just stellar!

You know how you meet someone and find yourself being better for knowing them?

Katherine is one of those people.  She is 80 years old, owns and runs a Christmas tree farm, and has the energy and enthusiasm of a 5 year old. As she stated at the beginning of the begins at 80. Incredible.

katherine teaching us all about blanching

And Judy, who we referred to her as "the source" because of her wealth of knowledge and experience. I loved listening to her teach the class.

We were hosted by Diane at the county extension office...who was equally as fantastic.  She made arrangements for me to take a tour of a near by dairy farm before I left town.  Those of you who my love/obsession with cows can imagine how excited I was.

the farmer's daughter's cow

Here is a list of take-a-ways that I found most interesting or important or I never knew:

  • 24 hours from Vine to Brine (for best pickles can then with in 24 house of them being picked) 
  •  3 fresh dill heads = 1 tbsp dry dill
  • Do not use fruit/vegetables from a dead or diseased plant because that can effect the pH
  • If fruit is picked right after it has rained the extra moisture in the fruit can effect the gelling process
  • Food processing adds air and causes the dreaded floating fruit - mash your fruit instead
  • You can use fresh lemon juice with fruit jellies and jams but use bottled when dealing with tomatoes
  • blanching makes a difference in food quality - always blanch! 
  • If a recipe just says "vinegar" it mean apple cider vinegar...if it's supposed to be white vinegar it will say so
And now for the pictures.....

pressure canning in action
the product of our pressure canning
sliced blueberries ready for dehydrating 
dehydrated blueberries

strawberry meringues made in the dehydrator
the best food mill

antique foam skimmer
dehydrated vegetables
those same veggies re-hydrated and turned into soup
my trip to the saratoga farmers' market

all of our creations

blanch vs. no blanch {blanched are the bright orange ones}
willow marsh dairy farm

I am very excited to continue my journey towards Master Preserver. I highly recommend the course if you're interested but be prepared to travel.  

I am really looking forward to sharing more of the information I learned. 

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