Last week, I swore I wouldn’t write about National (fill-in-the-blank) Day, but I’ll relinquish for Saturday’s Can-It-Forward Day. Yes, it’s a brand initiative from the folks at Jarden Home Brands, which make both Kerr- and Ball- branded glass jars that have surged in popularity, even outside the canning movement, but in the few years since it launched, the event has turned into a consumer education event to promote the craft of preserving food in jars, and that’s definitely an initiative that I can get behind. (One of my favorite canning projects of all time was this strawberry and pinot noir jam that I’m still telling people about.)
The big Jarden event with Food Network host Ted Allen is taking place on Saturday at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York City, but they are livestreaming the demonstrations and classes through a free webcast on FreshPreserving.com from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. People who are watching can ask questions on Ball’s Facebook page or via the #canitforward hashtag on Twitter. (Here is a link to a previous year’s webcast.)
In Austin, you’ll find canning and preserving demonstrations at the Cedar Park Farmers’ Market on Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and the Mueller Farmers’ Market from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
Local canning guru Kate Payne is teaching a pear canning workshop ($45) from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at a private home in East Austin, and you can sign up for that class here. She’s also in the middle of a month-long preservation series at Whole Foods Market. Nearly every Tuesday through Sept. 3, she’s teaching a different preservation class, including fermented cucumber pickles this week, dried tomatoes on Aug. 27, and pressure canning broths and stocks on Sept. 3. The classes start at 6:30 and cost $10 to watch or $65 to participate hands-on. You can email Laura.Benold@wholefoods.com to sign up.
If you’re ready to add a few canning guides and cookbooks to your collection, you have plenty of new books to choose from. Sherri Brooks Vinton, who wrote the much-loved 2010 guide "Put ‘em Up!," published "Put ‘em Up! Fruit: A Preserving Guide & Cookbook: Creative Ways to Put ‘em Up, Tasty Ways to Use ‘em Up" (Storey, $19.95) earlier this year, and in April, Southern Living published its latest cookbook on preserving, "Little Jars, Big Flavors: Small-batch jams, jellies, pickles, and preserves from the South’s most trusted kitchen" (Oxmoor House, $21.95).
But the biggest, most comprehensive resource to come out this year is blogger-turned-author Kevin West’s "Saving the Season: A Cook’s Guide to Home Canning, Pickling, and Preserving," (Knopf, $35) which covers everything from canning and pickling to dehydrating and good old-fashioned countertop fermentation. It’s the most expensive of the bunch, but it covers foraging, cocktails, pressure-canning and even some of the poetry and history around preserving food.
And if you’re just canning curious and want to see what the fuss is about, check out FoodInJars.com, one of my favorite canning websites, whose author, Marisa McClellan published a book of the same name last year. You might also consider trying quick pickles, which don’t actually require "putting up" in a water bath but are a good first step into the world of home preservation.