Restoration Farm Teaches Members Canning Basics

The air is fragrant with cloves and cinnamon and a large water bath is hissing steam atop the stove. Several members of Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage are clustered around the range as head grower Caroline Fanning instructs on the basics of preserving apple butter using a boiling-water canner.

Fanning thought the pre-growing season was an ideal time for CSA members to learn new skills for preserving the harvest and perfect for farmers, who are often time-crunched during the peak growing season, to share tips with members to improve their experience with locally grown produce.  

Fanning says she learned canning through trial and error, and wondered if Restoration Farm members were looking for guidance.  She was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming response and scheduled six workshops.  

“We’re not in farming country, that’s the thing,” Fanning says.  “If I were in the Hudson Valley, I would not be at all surprised if a new member already had those skills at their disposal.  But, on Long Island, it seems like this is their gateway to those skills.”  

Fear of contamination is often a psychological barrier to home canning, but Fanning believed a hands-on group approach would help members get comfortable with the process.  Fanning reviews the difference between high-acid and low-acid foods, proper sterilization of glass jars, lids and bands, and how to fill and process individual jars.  High-acid foods, such as jams, pickles, apples and tomatoes are more resistant to contamination, and are a good place for beginners to start.  At the end of two hours, Fanning has a room full of home canning converts, clutching still-warm pint jars of apple butter. 

Fanning cautions against becoming too enthusiastic after your first canning success.  “Everyone has their chutney moment,” she says, describing folks who suddenly want to “can everything.”  This often leads to jars abandoned on a dusty basement shelf.      

Fanning’s advice is simple. “Can what you like to eat.”  


Restoration Farm

1303 Round Swamp Road

Old Bethpage, NY 11804


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