Joel In The Garden

Canning and pickling: 'It's not difficult to do, but it's a science'

Canning and pickling: 'It's not difficult to do, but it's a science' »Play Video
PIckle it

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EUGENE, Ore. - From something sweet to bright red tomatoes, gardeners like Maren Tomblin have their hands full a few weeks early.

“We're excited to make soup and can tomatoes and get that going before fall,” Tomblin said. 

It looks like a very bountiful year for tomatoes, but it's also been very successful for cucumbers. So gardeners are having to think a little bit earlier about what they plan to can.

“A lot of people used to do it down in their old, musty cellars,” the Cannery owner Mike Wares said.

Wares certainly isn't in the cellar: He's busy at work in the kitchen at the Cannery, a restaurant in downtown Eugene that serves up much of Wares's handiwork. In this case, it's sauerkraut.

“Hitting appropriate temps, it goes ahead and ferments itself to create that wonderful sour taste,” Wares said.

The ingredients are simple; shredded cabbage, water, pickling salt and a pot for boiling.

“In order to create that shelf stability in this product, we have to heat pasteurize our product. It also creates these hermetic seals on these cans,” Wares said.

Canning is once again growing in popularity, attracting a younger audience. But experts say food safety remains a valid concern.

“It's kind of scary in a way. It's not difficult to do, but as I tell my volunteers, it's a science. It's not a creative art. And just because you see it in a store doesn't mean you can duplicated it at home and be safe,” OSU Extension Service instructor Nellie Oehler said.

Safe is the key word. Oehler and Wares agree that first-time food preservers should find a tested recipe and try it until they find their own seal of approval in the kitchen.

The OSU Extension Service is offering a class called "Pickle Passion" this Saturday at Community of Christ Church on Gilham Road in Eugene. Spaces in the class are limited. And if you have questions or issues with your own canning, you can call the Food Preservation Hotline at 800-354-7319. Volunteers are answering questions Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.