Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lawton Ave Canning Party

Tomatoes! Photo by N. Halin, used with permission

Last week, we packed up family (including the 2 dogs) for our annual trek to the in-laws on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

It's a place of rare and ever-changing natural beauty and we always look forward to our time there. One of my traditions is to can the fresh and abundant produce that grows there. My in-laws' neighbors have an enormous, somewhat 'feral' fig tree and I make fig jam for my in-laws to give as gifts during the holidays.

This year, two of their neighbors were talking about canning tomatoes, but had never done it before and I offered to run a 'master class' for them. :) Which entailed spending a delightful day in Jolene's kitchen with Andy and Jolene as my eager students.

Andy coring tomatoes. Photo by N. Halin, used with permission

We got an assembly line going, with Andy in charge of coring the tomatoes that were then dropped in a pot of boiling water for a minute, then plunged into cold in order to slip the skins off. (Me and Jolene in the background.)

Jolene and I getting to tomatoes ready to hot pack. Photo by N. Halin, used with permission

They were so excited to be canning! Jolene had listened to a food preservation podcast and Andy had spent the morning watching youtube canning videos. It was helpful that they had a background already for when I showed them what to do and we were able to discuss why certain things had to be done in certain ways. (Andy learned by experience the importance of head space when some tomato juice he canned had too little and splashed under the lid during the processing time, preventing the seal.)

Detail: tomatoes, skins slipped off, cored. Photo by N. Halin, used with permission

We formed a well-coordinated canning machine. :) And in one afternoon, two boxes of fresh, local tomatoes ended up chopped and preserved.

Quart jars, processing. Photo by N. Halin, used with permission
I found it more than a little ironic that this former city girl (me!), who at one point in her life could burn water, ended up teaching her in-laws' friends and peers how to rediscover a tradition that used to be utterly routine and commonplace.In addition to being taught from one generation down to another. Part of what I truly enjoyed about the day was the sense of community. Canning on your own feels like work. Canning with friends is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Nearly a week later, I hear they are still talking about how much fun they had putting up tomatoes. I think I've created a monster.

Interested in learning to can? Some wonderful resources can be found on the net:
In addition, I recommend The Ball Blue Book. 
Happy Canning!


  1. It was so much fun! What a great day with a great group of people.

    1. Make sure Linda saves you some of the fig preserves. I left them most of the jars. xxoo