Preserving the Harvest
By Grace Grattan, Phase I Fellow
Over the past couple weeks, we’ve been lucky enough to have our fermentation and canning workshops. Before AMI, I didn’t have experience canning or fermenting anything, but I was very curious to know what went into the processes.
First, Dawn and Bryan from Farmstead Ferments came up to the mountain to share the benefits of fermented foods, taste their lovely products, and teach us how to make ferments of our own. As a group, we made a huge amount of sauerkraut with the usual cabbage, but we also got to experiment with smaller batches. To these, we added more unusual things like kohlrabi, greens and various spices. It was really cool to see the liquid come out of the cabbage once we salted it, let it sit, and packed it into various containers.
We also learned how to make pickled cucumbers and each of us got to make our own personalized jar. I decided to include dill and mint in my jar along with the normal pickling spices. I hope they turn out alright!
My favorite part of the workshop was talking about and learning how to make kombucha and water kefir. I have been a long-time drinker of kombucha, however I had never heard of water kefir. We got to taste samples of both of these drinks and I was blown away by Farmstead Ferments apple-mint water kefir. It was so tasty and refreshing! We started our own batches of kombucha and water kefir, and since then we’ve been able to produce about four bottles of water kefir (and it’s been really good!).
Our canning workshop was really interesting as well. We learned how to make and can peach jam and dill pickles. It was a lot of work to peel and cut all the peaches for the jam, but the finished product was pretty tasty! It was interesting to learn all about hot water bath canning and all the aspects you have to pay attention to in order to can successfully.
My newly learned canning skills were put to the test, when two days later, another Fellow and I were tasked with making and canning applesauce from the apples that had fallen to the ground from a cracked branch. Peeling and cutting the apples was hard work, even with the peeler-corer tool, but we ended up making over a dozen jars of applesauce that tasted amazing despite the extreme tartness of the raw apples. I was so pleased that none of the jars shattered in the hot water bath and was really proud when all of the lids eventually popped down by the next morning. Being able to use the skills learned from one of our workshops felt really good, especially because I know that next year’s Fellows will benefit from the applesauce we made!
It was so helpful to learn from these workshops because the instructors had such a depth of knowledge that they were able to answer any questions as well as give their personal tips and tricks. In the future, I’m excited to take on canning and fermenting projects of my own and to perfect my own recipes and techniques.