August 2, 2014 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Find a pick-your-own farm near you! Then learn to can and freeze! On this charmingly Web 1.0 site, you can learn via rainbow-colored Comic Sans how to find a pick-your-own food farm near you (or add and correct listings), and how to pick and preserve just about anything you can imagine.
posted by showbiz_liz (14 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
This site is an absolute treasure for preserving instructions, particularly. Thanks!
posted by gusandrews at 7:40 PM on August 2, 2014

I hope this isn't a derail, but I find the eytmology behind Americans' use of the term canning to be intriguing. Everywhere else it's just bottling, preserving, etc. Were cans ever actually involved?
posted by smoke at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2014

The OED's entry for "canning", which it says was published in 1888 and "has not yet been fully updated", is "The preserving of meat, fish, fruit, etc., by sealing up in cans or tins; tinning" (emphasis added by me). Also, its entry for "can" (as a noun in this sense) notes that it is "now generally restricted to vessels of tin or other metal" (again, emphasis by me). It is not clear about when this general restriction started occurring.
posted by Flunkie at 8:29 PM on August 2, 2014

I used to wonder in the summer why it was called canning when my Mom was obviously using glass jars. In the winter, when she would bring out a jar of homemade strawberry jam, I was more concerned about slicing fresh-baked bread for toast.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:32 AM on August 3, 2014

For those curious, Ward's Berry Farm in Strafford / Thetford, VT (Orange County) is picking Raspberries and they opened up for blueberries this weekend. ~240 lbs. of blueberries went out the first day... excluding the 2 pounds baked into a blueberry cake.

If you go, say 'Hi from the internet.' to my in-laws.

If you GPS your way to the house, your GPS will 'end' your trip about 1 mile short of their house because of how the town lines and 911 system works. It is Strafford, but since the first mile of miller pond road is in Thetford, the GPS sort of ignores that portion. Follow the house numbers - that's all I'm saying.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:50 AM on August 3, 2014

I love PickYourOwn.org for finding PYO farms (we also have some Mass-specific resources here that I use as well, so see if your state has something similar!). However, I find the Comic Sans hard to read, so for canning advice, I tend to default to National Center for Home Food Preservation. Their FAQs are very helpful.

The advice at PickYourOwn.org is generally consistent with the NCHFP, though, which can't be said of everyone.

There are some authors of current canning books and canning blogs who provide unclear advice. For example: not explaining that all jars that will be processed for less than ten minutes MUST be boiled for ten minutes before packing to pre-sterilize. (Jars that will be processed for ten minutes or more don't need that ten-minute boil, but still need to be warm before they're packed, and I generally boil them anyway on general principles.)

Or removing the lids from their simmering water bath and laying them out "on a clean towel" on the counter before filling the jars -- ACK no. (NCHFP recommends that you follow the manufacturer's recommendations, which are to leave them in the simmering water until they are used, and only remove one at a time. First, they don't have a chance to pick up germs from the teatowel, and second, the warm water keeps the sealing compound nice and gummy and increases your odds of getting a good seal.)

If you haven't canned before, I'd really recommend reading through the resources at National Center for Food Preservation before you get started. Canning is awesome and fun! But worthy of caution, nonetheless.
posted by pie ninja at 8:14 AM on August 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a great book about fermentation that really got me into naturally fermenting vegetables. However, this book also warned me about the "unnatural" process of canning, and the dangers of botulism (which are not present with fermented vegetables). I hope this site will assuage my fears, because a friend of mine wants to make homemade canned baked beans, and I don't want to die.
posted by sixohsix at 8:17 AM on August 3, 2014

Canning is unnatural like refrigerators and vaccines are unnatural. And botulism is rare as hell. "In the United States, an average of 145 cases are reported each year. Of these, approximately 15% are foodborne, 65% are infant botulism, and 20% are wound." IE, more people get botulism from injecting black tar heroin than from eating canned beans.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:27 AM on August 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Sadly, more Americans probably inject black tar heroin that do home canning...

Okay that's not fair...

In any case, the number one best place for botulism to grow is in semi-vacuum low-acid environments devoid of other bacteria, which just so happens to be exactly what improperly canned food provides. All I'm saying is that I'm going to read the directions very, very carefully.
posted by sixohsix at 12:38 PM on August 3, 2014

I'm lucky enough to live close enough to Brentwood CA to go several times a year. Most recently we got the best peaches I've ever had, plus apricots, which I turned into a jam (well more of a sauce), and preserved. I found that the pot I use for making beer is great for boiling the jars. I've only opened the first jar of this batch, but no botulism yet - just delicious apricot spread for toast.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:17 PM on August 3, 2014

Also, I use Star-san on the lids, instead of boiling them - it's another thing I have around from brewing.
posted by bashos_frog at 2:20 PM on August 3, 2014

This afternoon we went blueberry picking, at a place we found through farmfresh.org. There is this couple who has a large wooded property where tons and tons of wild blueberries and huckleberries grow, and you can pick your own berries, as much as you can, for $10, even if you stay all day. We lasted a little more than 3 hours, what with the crouching and the climbing and the bending, and came away with about 1.5 quarts of mixed blueberries/huckleberries, more than enough to make a pie. Each of the other 3 adults in our party came away with similar amounts. Super fun to traipse around through the woods!
posted by fancyoats at 2:39 PM on August 3, 2014

Awesome! I've always used the site for preserving directions/recipes, but looked at the Canada u-pick finder for the first time today, and discovered a u-pick nearby, one I never knew about! Thanks!
posted by bluebelle at 8:46 PM on August 5, 2014

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