2018-09-06 / Local News

Canning for health, necessity

And preserving your own food can be fun
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


A RAINBOW of flavors are preserved in canning jars at Cathy Bossineau’s home. Pictured, from left, are carrots, green beans, pickled beets, dill pickles and waxed beans. A RAINBOW of flavors are preserved in canning jars at Cathy Bossineau’s home. Pictured, from left, are carrots, green beans, pickled beets, dill pickles and waxed beans. Canning has been a part of Shirley Dunklow’s life for as long as she can recall.

“I remember my grandma Plamondon and my mom (Dorothy Chimoski) canning,” said Dunklow, who with her husband, Jerry, raised six children in Lake Leelanau. “This has been an ‘off year.’ I don’t have any kids in my house anymore, so it’s been a little different.”

But the modest results of this year’s harvest will be available to eat all winter long thanks to a French inventor.

In the 1790s, Nicolas Appert discovered that the application of heat to food in sealed glass bottles preserved food from deterioration.

Dunklow, who sells produce from her backyard garden, is off to a late start, just starting to can tomatoes this year.


CATHY BOISSINEAU of Empire Township is shown here sterilizing the jars she’ll fill with garden goods to be canned and eaten over the winter. CATHY BOISSINEAU of Empire Township is shown here sterilizing the jars she’ll fill with garden goods to be canned and eaten over the winter. She plans to back off a bit in her production.

“I used to do 50, 60 quarts a year,” she said.

No Campbell’s soup for her family. She cans her own tomato soup from a recipe found in her wellworn Ball Canning book.

Another longtime favorite, particularly with her children, was an applesauce made from early gold and gingergold varieties that were grown locally.

“It was so sweet, you didn’t have to add any sugar,” Dunklow said. “I used to make cases of that.”

Her basement shelves already are lined with green beans, two varieties of pickles and salsa.

“Everybody’s got to have some salsa,” she explained.

Later this fall, the canner will be putting up beef and pork, which provides a tasty all-in-one meal complete with meat and gravy.

While all of her children are grown, they still enjoy the fruits of their mother’s labor each Christmas when they get a “care package” filled with the favorite homegrown goods.

“They get excited about what’s in the baskets,” she said.

In fact, her two daughters and daughters-in-law are expressing interest in carrying on a practice that goes back multiple generations.

Over the summer, the Michigan State University Extension offered a three-session class on home canning at Oryana Community Coop in Traverse City.

Interest in canning appears to have grown handin hand with the local food movement. People are canning today because they ‘choose to’ — not because they have to.

“It was a necessity for us. I did odd jobs, but I couldn’t really work fulltime until after the last one was in pre-school,” Dunklow said.

Unlike Dunklow, Cathy Boissineau didn’t grow up canning. But it’s become an annual ritual at her Empire Township home.

She processes much of what she cans from her garden.

“The first garden I every had was during my second year at Alma College,” Boissineau said.

Initially, she canned jams. However, over the years her garden produce and canning have grown, with the exception of a 4-year hiatus from 2010 to 2014 when moles took over the garden patch.

Boissineau tilled and raked the soil and put down a weed-blocking material before constructing her first 4-by-8-foot raised bed, eliminating the mole problem.

She has added six more 4-by-4-foot beds since.

“I’m a small batch canner,” she said. “I began canning in 2016, but didn’t buy a large canning kettle until this summer.”

Boissineau said you can try smallbatch canning without having to break the bank.

She suggests looking for grocery products which come in authentic Mason or Ball rimmed jars, which fit standard lids and rings such as Classico marinara sauces.

No matter how well jars are washed, Boissineau takes an extra precaution by sterilize them in boiling water and letting them air-dry before filling.

“I’ve been using my stainless soup pot with a round pie cooking rack set in its bottom. It worked great,” she said.

This year’s production includes several quarts of beans, carrots, picked beets, and dill pickles.

“I went to canning because I was running out of freezer space and found that when you can your own beans they don’t have to be mushy like the ones you get out of the Del Monte can,” she said. “Besides, you can’t freeze pickled beets.”

Return to top