The Great Folks, The Laughter, The CANNING CLASS

Lots of finished products and the two canners that we used.

Saturday, we had our first class of 2019 - The Canning Class. This class had only three students but we made the most of the afternoon! We made Applesauce and Tomato Sauce in the hot water bath canner. Then, we made Beef Stew and Black Beans in the pressure canner. We all had a great time.

We started the day with a tour of the farm. It's looking pretty messy at this time of the year but still, it's good to show people how we do things here at Windy Thistle. Folks were able to see all of the American Rambler (The sheathed log cabin that grew), view the bees, visit the messy disorganized tomato garden, see the end of the cucumbers, the deck garden and the long garden. We ended up back in the kitchen.

I'm very grateful that this first class was attended by my marvelous daughter-in-law, Donna, and her mom, Jean and my good friend, Raven. These ladies were fast to laugh and faster to pick up what we were doing. Photo credits go to Raven for her great pictures of the work in progress.

I had two recipes ready to go right away - the tomato sauce and the black beans from dried beans. Tomato sauce can take a fair chunk of time to cook down, so I did that on Friday. The beans also needed to soak - so that happened before class, too. We jarred up both of those and got the canners rocking and rolling on the stove. Everyone had an opportunity to do all of the tasks involved and so got some hands on experience.

The tomato sauce cooling on the counter. The jars have a white calcium layer from our water, it just wipes off when the jars are cold.

Water bath canning is useful for high acid fruits, veggies, jams and jellies. It's pretty straightforward and without much muss or fuss. Pressure canning has a few more rules and sounds really scary with hissing and the afore mentioned rocking and rolling but after you know the routine, it's pretty easy, too.

The next two recipes were completed by the class after the first two recipes were out and cooling on the counter. First, we turned our attention to the best recipe of the day, in my humble opinion - the Beef Stew. We peeled potatoes, cut up carrots and chopped celery and used onions I had already prepared. Then, we passed the jars around the table.

We're cutting up the veggies and are about to start passing around the jars to fill.

Jean put in the meat and tamped it down. Donna put in the carrots. Raven added the potatoes and I added celery and onions and made sure all the jars were full. Then, everyone got to fill the jars with broth and tighten down lids and put them in the big pressure canner.

The filled jars awaiting their turn at the pressure canner.

We peeled, cored and cooked down apples into applesauce. Everyone got a chance to crush the apples to make them ready to jar up.

Jean smushing apples while Donna watches.

Still smushing because it's fun but this pot of apples are ready for jarring up now.

Then we canned it in pint jars in the water bath canner while the beef stew was also cooking.

While those recipes were processing, we nibbled on snacks and had a questions and answer session which covered a lot more than just canning but was still a lot of fun. We covered subjects from canning to dehydrating, to pickles, to how to distill essential oils and more!

Tasty nibbles and good conversations - the Q&A session.

When the canners were finished, we lifted out the finished products and patted ourselves on the backs - every jar sealed and all was good. Everyone got to take home a jar of each recipe and a few extras! It was a great class, and Thank you so much for coming to our students!

The finished stew, so yummy looking, eh? One quart jar will feed two people.

We'll be holding other classes all winter long. Our next class is Soap Making on October 19th. If there is enough interest, I will hold a second soap making class on October 26th.

November's class will be baking holiday pies from scratch - we'll make Apple, Pecan and Pumpkin pies. We'll be going over fancy and decorative borders and crusts for pies, too. The date has not been set for this class, so be watching Windy Thistle for more information.

As always, if you have the time, take a trip by the farm, visitors are always welcome! We're just about an hour south of St. Louis - straight down Gravois (HWY 30) Just let me know you're coming out.

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