Canning workshop draws dozens, educates community

The Genesee Valley Cooperative held a canning workshop for students and community members on Sunday Nov. 2 in the Central Presbyterian Church. The workshop included a presentation on canning safety as well as an interactive portion in which attendees prepared their own canned applesauce.

The workshop was well-attended, with about 35 people filling the basement area of the church. Part of the GVC’s central theme was to promote unity between the community and students––both parties were represented at the workshop.

“There were definitely more students,” GVC member senior Sarah Diaz said. “But a couple of community members came, including the people who run the Farmer’s Market, which was great.”

Judy Price and Katherine Humphrey from the Cornell Cooperative Extension led the workshop, designed to inform attendees how to properly can food. “They’re from Mount Morris, so a lot of community members know who they are,” Diaz said.

“One of our friends worked on a farm last summer, so she put us in contact with them,” GVC senior member Tom Silva said. “We’ve been sitting on the information for a while, so it was nice to finally put the presentation on.”

The workshop opened with a PowerPoint presentation from Price emphasizing food safety. “It’s important to be careful of bacteria and microorganisms that could become dangerous during the canning process,”Price said. “A major concern with canning food is clostridium botulinum, which is the bacteria responsible for botulism.”

Price made it clear that botulism should not be a concern at the workshop, because the apple sauce they were going to be canning has a high acidity and botulism is an only issue when canning foods with low acidity.

Price explained that since the apple sauce was highly acidic, they would use a boiling water canner to complete the process. “The other process called pressure canning is more expensive, which is part of the reason we chose apple sauce,” Silva said.

The ingredients for the apple sauce were all local, including apples from the Geneseo Farmer’s Market. “We work with Pleasantview Farms a lot and since their season is done at the Market, they let us come and pick the rest of the apples,” Silva said. “They didn’t want to see the apples go to waste, so it made for a great low-budget option for something easy for everyone to can.”

The GVC puts on a variety of programs intended to promote the “concern for community” portion of the ideal set forth by the Roshdale rules, the governing set of rules for cooperative living communities.

“A lot of the people there were associated with the co-op, but there were a bunch of new faces,” Diaz said. “It was really nice to see new people taking an interest in what we’re doing.”