Last month, I found my mother’s old boiling-water canner. It had been in storage for about 10 years, and I suddenly had the urge to start canning my own tomato sauce.
Mister Jack convinced me to take a class on canning tomatoes because he mentioned that he didn’t want to be poisoned if anything went wrong with the canning process. I was surprised and delighted when he said that he would attend the canning class with me.
Lucky for us, the University of California, Davis has a Master Food Preserver Program, and ongoing classes are held at its Cooperative Extension location in Sacramento. The “Tomatoes and Late Summer Fruits” class attracted a roomful of people who were new to canning or wanting to update their skills. Throughout the demonstrations, home cooks were told to have their equipment and ingredients ready.
Through four lectures and demonstrations, an eager crowd learned how to can tomatoes, pears, ketchup, and tomato jam. During the break, participants were invited to sample items that we could now prepare at home. Master Food Preservers were also available to answer questions and give advice.
Our favorites were the spiced tomato jam and the dehydrated tomatoes. It was suggested to use the jam as a dip with cream cheese, sauce for meatloaf and other meats, and as flavoring in grilled cheese sandwiches. The dehydrated tomatoes were used as a healthier substitute for chips, and they were served with honey mustard or ranch dressing.
A ketchup recipe was also offered to participants. This recipe is a healthy alternative to commercial ketchup since it does not contain corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. It does contain sugar for flavor and texture.
For those who wanted to can pears without using heavy syrup, there was a demonstration on making cinnamon pears in apple juice. Sacramento is surrounded by pear orchards. Mountain and river pears are available from July to October.
The two-hour class is a bargain at $3 per person. Instructions and recipes for boiling water canners and pressure canners are given to all attendees.
The Master Food Preserver Program hosts a variety of classes throughout the year.