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Home canning: Help from an expert

By Susan Shinn
sshinn@salisburypost.com
Toi Degree has witnessed a local resurgence in canning.
Degree is a family and consumer science agent with Rowan County’s Cooperative Extension Service. Earlier this summer, she held two canning workshops at Patterson Farm.
She got “quite a response,” she says.
This summer, she’s received questions regarding canning vegetables and making jelly.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who are starting to can,” Degree says. “They’re trying it for the first time. I think a lot of it has to do with the economy.”
She adds, “I’m finding an interest in younger people. Our mission here is to educate and help.”
While you can find recipes online, Degree says, “the Internet can leave you stranded.”
That’s when Degree gets calls.
One woman called several times while making jelly for the first time.
“She finally got it,” Degree says, “and she was so excited.”
Pressure canning, Degree says, is “not as scary” as people might think.
“You’re just basically following directions,” she says.
The extension office offers testing of pressure canning equipment.
Of canning, Degree admits, “It is a process. It does take time.”
All of the jars, used, for example, must be clean and sterilized.
“A lot of things go into making sure the product is going to be a good one and a safe one,” Degree says.
Degree, a native of Blacksburg, S.C., makes chow chow with her mom.
She purchases Patterson tomatoes for the relish.
“She’ll have me working,” Degree says of canning season.
While people don’t think they need to can ó after all, they can run to the grocery store whenever they need something ó there is a sense of enjoyment that comes along with the process, she says.
“People take pride in the things they can,” she says. “You’re taking pride in something and you’re preparing something with love.”

If you’re interested in having Toi Degree speak to your group about home canning, call her at 704-216-8979.

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