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Canning accreditation

When I teach canning classes I warn my students they may become infected with the canning bug during class without knowing it. It's not until they get home and start uncharacteristically contemplating mason jar sizes and canning pot racks that they realize they've got the fever. By then it's too late. That's the way it works. There's no vaccine, people, and the only cure for the canning bug is more canning! Pickles. Then some jam. The bug never fully goes away. For some it goes dormant in winter then rears its harvest-hungry head in early summer. For others, like myself, it's a year-round affliction that involves experimental pickling and regularly asking, "What else can I make jam from?"

Of course, those who read this blog regularly know how much I love canning. I'm practically certifiable. But in a good way. In fact, I'm currently studying for my certificate in home food preservation through the University of Georgia and the National Centre for Home Food Preservation. Although canning has long been a home cook's skill, finding an opportunity to achieve some form of accreditation has been a challenge. So I couldn't have been more thrilled when this opportunity came along.

Family Feedbag recipes from top left: Calamondin and white rum marmalade, rhubarb raisin chutney, sweet daikon relish, and cherry, peach and vanilla jam 
While much of what I'm learning is valuable review in terms of technique and safety, the history of food preservation is largely new to me and I find myself fascinated by the course material. For example, the man who pioneered canning in the 1790s was French confectioner, Nicolas Appert. Although he successfully developed a system of bottling and boiling food that would later prove useful to feeding Napoleon's army, he never fully understood the science of his preservation method. It wasn't until decades later that fellow Frenchman, microbiologist Louis Pasteur, was able to explain the science behind canning through his understanding of heating food to a temperature high enough to kill harmful microorganisms. Sadly, Appert would have never heard Pasteur's explanation as he died years before.

I have a lot more studying to do and several more tests to write, but I'll finish the course over the coming weeks. Hopefully at the end I'll have my home preserving certificate as proof that I am officially certifiable.

Are you studying anything new? What fascinating things are you learning about? Leave a comment and tell me what makes you certifiable!