Last Sunday I had the opportunity to join Cathy, Mrs. Wheelbarrow, in one of her cooking classes. I had been looking forward to meeting her and attending one of her water bath canning classes. Cathy’s blog is an inspiration, and every recipe of hers that I’ve tried has been amazing and delicious.
Just this year I started to become more interested in preserving fresh fruits and vegetables, and in water bath canning. Growing up, my grandmother used to make mango chutney in great quantities: mangoes, raisins, spices, vinegar, and sugar would simmer on the stove top permeating the kitchen with the tropical aroma of ripe mangoes. I would stand on a plastic step stool and constantly stir the mixture with a long wooden spoon, making sure it didn’t stick to the bottom of the huge pot. She also made currant jam, with currants that she grew in her garden, until locusts entirely destroyed the plant. Now that she is older, she doesn’t do much canning and I thought I would continue the tradition.
Although I knew the basics of water bath canning, I really wanted to learn more about it. If I’m going to be making preserves and sharing these with my family and friends, I most definitely do not want to get anyone sick.
Cathy put together three recipes for us to make: peach pie filling, peach & lemon verbena preserves, and spicy Asian plum sauce. So first things first, we dipped the peaches in boiling water, cooled them in an iced water bath, and then peeled and cut them into wedges. There were 40 pounds of peaches to dip, cool, peel, and cut! Luckily, we were a team of 7 and this went by very quickly.
Before we knew it, we were ladling delicious pie filling into our hot quart sized jars. We learned to tighten the rings with just the tips of our fingers so that air can escape from the jars while in the water bath.
The peach & lemon verbena preserves before processing in the water bath. These taste so fresh, like a ripe juicy peach with just a hint of the lemon verbena. We learned how to decorate the jars with lemon verbena leaves.
Also, have I mentioned I fell in love during the class? Meet Louie, Cathy’s adorable little dog! He is so fast, which made it impossible to photograph him. I finally caught him practicing his down dog. Isn’t he precious?
I had such a fabulous time, and learned so much. Cathy is passionate and inventive and really inspires you to try things out of your comfort zone. If you’d like to make the spectacular spicy plum sauce visit Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s blog where she shares the recipe. And definitely do not miss out on the opportunity to take one of her classes. You will leave with new friends, tips, tricks, and treats!
Thanks for a wonderful class Cathy!