Canning classes offered throughout summer and fall

BALDWIN — Fresh green beans picked from the garden are a crisp, tasty treat. In order to enjoy green beans all-year long, canning classes are being offered in Lake County.

Joan Hart, food safety educator for Michigan State University Extension, was on-hand at Hollister Senior Center in Baldwin, last Friday, to give a free-hands on course to residents on how to freeze green beans.

The first part of the class she taught the attendees about canning basics, such as what jars to use while canning and what temperature freezers should be for freezing vegetables. Participants received a refrigerator thermometer to make sure their freezer is at the right temperature.

“Your freezer should be 10 below, but for storing a lot of vegetables, it should be kept at 20 below,” Hart said to the group.

She took the group into the kitchen for some hands-on learning.

“After you snip the beans, put them in boiling water for three minutes to kill all the enzymes. See what a beautiful brilliant color they are after being blanched,” she said, while demonstrating the process. “After they boil, give them an icewater bath for at least 20 minutes. Pat them dry with a clean towel and put them in freezer bags, not storage bags. Freezer bags are a lot thicker and store better.”

She encouraged people not to store greenbeans in margarin containers, which are good for storing left overs. she said, but not for freezing vegetables.

“Lastly, label the freezer bag ‘green beans’ and put the date on the package,” she said.

Virginia Lester, who attended the class, said she enjoys frozen vegetables better than canned vegetables.

“I like my vegatables on the crisp side, not cooked all the way. It is easier to get this result with frozen veggies,” she said.

Steve Smith, who also attended the class, said freezing vegetables is a good option for health purposes.

“I am staying away from sodium, so frozen vegetables are a much healthier choice than canned vegetables,” he said. “They also have a good flavor.”

Attendees got to process their own green beans to take home and freeze.

Hart said tomato canning classes are scheduled for September.

“So many people have tomatoes in their gardens, and these classes will show them how to process them to get the most out of their produce,” she said.

There will be two hands-on tomato workshops, one from 1 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Irons. The other will be from 1 to 4 p.m. at Chase Fellowship Church on Thursday, Sept. 21. A hands-on apple canning workshop will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Edgett’s Wesleyan Church in Luther.