Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Those Who CAN...Teach!

Last week, I was guest lecturing in the Future Educator's class. The teacher for the class is also our foods instructor and I asked her if she ever did a lesson on canning. Apparently, they teach about the dangers of improper canning and storage techniques, but don't do a canning demonstration. Then, an idea was born. I left my classes with my team teacher on Monday and went to do canning demos in her classes all day.

I only had just under an hour for each period, but we talked about high and low acid foods, boiling water baths vs. pressure canning, head space and the dangers of improper canning as well as everything in between. I brought samples of my salsa, apple pie jam, banana jam and pickles for them to taste. If you've never seen 30+ kids try to out beg each other for a can of apple pie jam, it's a treat.

However, the real treat came with the permission from my friend John over at John's Journal to share his experiences on his grandfather's farm. In one blog entry, John mentioned wanting to keep his journal for the benefit of his grandchildren and now great grandchildren, and in doing so he has now also taught 120 high school students to appreciate their past. I received permission from John to share his latest post with the students and they were captivated. Food preservation as you describe it, John, has become a lost art and I thank you, the students thank you, for allowing your experiences to be shared with them.

It was my intention to take pictures throughout the canning day, but her classes are mixed grade levels and most students aren't 18 and I therefore cannot post their pictures on the Internet without parental permission. Ehhh...not going through all that trouble.

Suffice it to say that the day went fantastic. First period they sampled apple pie jam and made grape jelly. Second period sampled banana jam, stole lustful glances at the remaining apple pie jam and made grape jelly, too. Third period sampled salsa, scavenged what was left of the banana jam, distracted us to gain access to the apple pie jam jar, licked the apple pie jam jar clean and made apple pie jam. Fourth period pouted at the empty jam jars, were irate they missed the salsa, ate dill and bread and butter pickles and made dill pickles.

Everything was perfect, every jar sealed, and general fun was had by all. Even though I couldn't take pictures of the kids, here are some of the items we made:

The picture is missing two cans of pickles, 4 apple pie jams, 4 grape jellies, and two apple conserves (on the left). We had extra apples left, so I came home and made a batch of conserve with apples, raisins and pecans and I'll make another one tomorrow night. I've never made nor tasted conserve before, but I'm about to quit the jam front all together after tasting it. Imagine it on baked brie covered in phylo (sp?) dough. Fantastic!

Several kids emailed or stopped by my classroom today to ask for recipes. I printed out copies for all kids with a little instruction section on BWB canning and the address for the preservation center at UGA. I also added that the recipes could all be frozen as well, which may appeal to their parents a bit more.

The morning comes early. Sweet gardening and preserving dreams.


  1. Sounds like the canning was a hit, good to hear. All the jars look beautiful. So what's a conserve? Never heard of it before.

  2. Dan, a conserve is a mixture of fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts. In this case, it's apples, rasins and pecans. It has so much more character than a straight jam.

  3. Good for you! Those little stinkers needed to be exposed to something benefial for their livelihood in years to come. Better than games!

  4. What a great lesson for them! I, too, notice an abundance of info put out on the dangers of canning and one of the questions I always get when one finds out that I can is "aren't you afraid of botulism?" It makes me crazy! I always want to respond with "how can you drive? Aren't you afraid of getting in an accident?"... because that's more likely! But instead of that coming out I try to give them places they can find out info like the University Extension - people feel safer if the info is in black & white from "an authority" lol. I always remind them that it's like anything else, when you follow instructions and basic food safety rules, it is a wonderful life skill to have and amaze all your friends! Thanks for sharing that with our young population!

  5. Thanks Ribbit, I could not have been paid a higher complement and I am my wife’s hero again. :) John

  6. What a wonderful gift to your students. Give them something to learn that they can pass on to their children and grandchildren. Maybe it'll teach them to enjoy a simpler lifestyle. There's hope for a new generation of caring for the earth and the wonders it can produce.

  7. Oh how fun! It must have been thrilling to get in front of those kids to teach what you love. Heck, I wish I was able to sit in on your demonstration!

  8. Oh, what fun. I was just thinking today about the wonderful canning workshops Denise and I are going to have to do soon.

  9. Kudos to you, Teach!! Our schools need more like you (take note, my granddaughter's lousy history teacher...grrrr).

    My verification word is grayola. Would that be granola for old people?