Frances Thomas grew up in Belmont County where, before she even hit her teenage years, she helped her mother can just about everything that grew on the farm she was raised on.
Even today, at the age of 91, Thomas does a little canning, carrying on the tradition her mother started.
"I've been canning for over 80 years I suppose," said Thomas, of Marietta. "I always canned for the winter, sometimes 500 or more quarts of stuff. That's what people did back then."
ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
ABOVE: Marietta resident Nancy Jenkins prepares tomatoes for canning in her kitchen. LEFT: There are many different kinds of vegetables that can be canned, including green beans.
Canning may be thought of by some as a thing of the past, but this of year, when many people have more produce in their gardens than they know what to do with, canning is a good way to preserve food that may otherwise go to waste.
Other options include freezing, drying or donating the food to those in need.
"There are lots of ways to preserve food at home and it saves on the budget, it tastes better and you can avoid preservatives if that's what you want to do," said Kathy Dodrill, an extension educator at the Ohio State University Extension office in Marietta. "Pretty much anything can be preserved in some way, shape or form."
If you go:
- What: Free canning workshop
- Where: Ohio State University Extension office, 202 Davis Ave., Marietta
- When: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Aug. 8
- Call 376-7431 for reservations
Area food pantries
- Belpre Area Ministries, 2310 Washington Blvd., Belpre 45714.
- Beverly-Waterford Food Pantry, P.O. Box 7, Beverly 45715; pantry located at St. Bernards Catholic Church, 309 Seventh St., Beverly.
- Community Food Pantry of Marietta, 318 Front St., Marietta 45750.
- L.A.M.B. Pantry, 305 Fourth St., Lowell 45744; pantry located at 309 Walnut St., Lowell.
Tri-County Food Pantry, P.O. Box 41, Lower Salem 45745; pantry located at Peoples Savings Bank, 102 Main St., Lower Salem.
- Marietta Church of God Food Pantry, 610 N. Seventh St., Marietta 45750; pantry located at Marietta Church of God, 501 Colegate Drive, Marietta.
- New Matamoras Food Pantry, P.O. Box 512, New Matamoras 45767; pantry located at New Matamoras Elementary School.
- Newport Food Pantry, 235 Green St., Newport 45768; pantry location next door to Newport Baptist Church, 245 Green St.
- Western Washington County Food Pantry, P.O. Box 151, Barlow 45712; pantry located at 18 High St., Vincent.
You will need:
- 2 pounds fresh tomatoes (about six medium) to yield 4 1/2 cups finely diced.
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar (five percent acidity).
- 1/4 cup Ball Fiesta Salsa Mix.
- 2 Ball pint (16 ounces) Fresh Preserving Jars with lids and bands.
1. Prepare canner, jars and lids according to manufacturer's instructions.
2. Combine tomatoes, vinegar and contents of pouch in a large saucepan.
3. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer five minutes.
4. Ladle hot salsa into jars leaving half an inch head space. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims and center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
5. Process in boiling water canner for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude .
The extension office offers free testing of pressure canner lids. Dodrill said this is an extremely important step when it comes to canning.
"The weighted gage, those don't need to be tested, but the dial gage, those need to be checked every year for accuracy," she explained. "Over the winter or off season or sometimes (when) they're handed down through a family - they can become inaccurate."
Additionally, the extension office is offering a free canning workshop Aug. 8, during which participants will learn how to use a water bath canner and pressure canner and learn about freezing fruits and vegetables, among other things.
"We talk about the importance of blanching," Dodrill said. "You don't just take beans, peas or corn and throw them in the freezer - you need to blanch them (because) you want to stop the enzyme action so when you freeze it you'll maintain the maximum quality."
According to ochef.com, blanching is simply steaming or boiling food briefly so the enzymes don't cause the food to lose its flavor and nutritional value.
Marietta resident Nancy Jenkins, 60, freezes peppers and onions but she also does quite a bit of canning.
This is evidenced by the many rows of jars that line a wall in her basement, including 29 pints of pickled beets, 49 pints of green beans and 25 half pints of relish, as well as many others.
"If it gets in my hands, I can it," Jenkins said. "We're on a retirees' income so all this helps in the winter when the bills are high."
Like Thomas, canning is something Jenkins picked up from her mother and it's something she's done almost all her life.
Since she's a seasoned canner, she offered some tips for folks who may be just starting out canning.
"When you start off with canning, it's going to seem expensive but after you get the initial stuff, you reuse the rings and jars," she said.
"Be careful to read instructions - you are handling hot things," she added. "If you have children, keep them out of the kitchen or have someone watch them."
Jenkins gets the vegetables she cans from her plot in the Washington County Harvest of Hope community garden near Food 4 Less in Marietta.
Food from that garden goes not only to the gardeners themselves, such as Jenkins, but also to area food pantries.
Bill Farnsworth, director of the Marietta Community Food Pantry, said the pantry loves getting fresh produce from gardens and folks who visit the pantry love receiving it.
"We'll take anything from people's gardens," he said. "We had half a bushel of corn (a few days ago) and that was gone in half an hour."