Thinking longterm with canned goods from your garden’s bounty
So, you’ve picked your berries, snapped your peas and strung enough Blue Lake green beans until you’re blue in the face.
If you’ve taken the time to grow your own organic food (well done, you!), then why on earth would you waste your produce? While frozen foods have their place, freezer burn happens. And here in Florida, where those beautiful puffy sea clouds occasionally decide to darken and take out your electricity for a time, it makes sense to have canned goods as well.
Canned goods prevail in the test of time, and there’s a wide range of recipes and possibilities that exist in this type of food preservation that freezing may not provide.
But what if you don’t have the proper equipment?
Or you don’t know how?
Right here in Hernando County, you have access to a commercial-grade kitchen and all the help you need.
Welcome to Little Rock Cannery, operated by the Hernando County Parks and Recreation Department.
The cannery, located at 15487 Citrus Way is available, at nominal fee, for individuals and groups to prepare canned goods safely and deliciously.
Under the supervision of Kathi Comandi, a retired nurse with a passion for nutrition and health, the cannery has undergone a transformation from diamond in the rough to multifaceted gem.
Clean, comfortable and inviting, this amazing facility has nearly anything you might need to can your own foods.
Cutting surface? Check.
Water bath and pressure canners? Check and check.
Kathi will help you get started and to guide you along as needed. She’s a valuable resource and safety guru, answering questions such as which method is best to can soups or chutney, or how to store your wares (inside, cool and dark, please). Cannery staff is available as much or as little as needed.
Groups often use the facility, such as the senior ladies’ party who meets periodically to make jam or salsa, splitting the cost among themselves. Kathi says they make a day of it and have a great time. Church and school groups come too, and kids learn life-related skills, such as measurement and temperature, and about working together as a “business”. Each member has his or her job, and that job affects the outcome of the whole.
The trend toward optimum nutrition embraces a farm-to-table approach.
Organic is good. Locally grown and self-prepared is even better.
Canning allows tailoring to specific dietary needs, such as sodium-reduced foods or avoidance of allergies.
Knowledge is power, and nutrition is fuel.
What supplies do you need to bring?
Your own jars and food.
Staff can help you with ordering information for meats, fruits, or vegetables, and where you might find standard or specialty jars.
The cost for using the cannery is $12 per day or $55 for a yearly membership which allows you to use the facilities as often as you like. Annual membership is a good idea. You can take advantage of seasonal delicacies and help support Little Rock Cannery.
For more information, contact Kathi Comandi or Christie Williams at: (352) 799-4226 or (352) 754-4031, or visit the cannery online by clicking here.