Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Preserving Place + Atlanta, Ga. / Canning Essentials

Hello Readers! 

Thank you for your lovely feedback on my "Why Canning?" post yesterday. I really would love to hear all of your tips, tricks, and any memories of canning. It's a great thing to be able to share with each other. In keeping with our "preserving" theme, today I want to share with you about the Preserving Place. (At the bottom of the post I talk about the essentials that you need to start canning. Be sure not to miss that part as well!) I've mentioned The Preserving Place twice now here and here, and have said that I would tell you all more about it. It's a gorgeous, charming shoppe in the heart of Westside Provisions in Atlanta. Don't tell the rest of Atlanta, but Westside Provisions is Ben's and my favorite. Whenever we have guests come visit us one of the first places we take them to is Star Provisions which is also in Westside Provisions, right around the train track from The Preserving Place. Ben and I first found the Preserving Place when we were walking around Westside Provisions one day, probably shopping and/or eating. We can be caught doing that fairly often. We noticed a store that we hadn't seen before and we went and peeked in the window. The owner happened to be leaving for the day the same time that we peeked in and we started chatting with her. She has an amazing story as she used to be a lawyer working in Atlanta and she decided to go back to her roots and open up the Preserving Place focused on all things preserving. Her family used to operate (and still owns) a very large farm. She moved away from her family farm and re-located to Atlanta. Going from being a fast-paced lawyer to now teaching cooking and canning classes and spending her days in her charming shoppe is definitely a vast change. I asked her this weekend if she is glad for the change and that she opened the shoppe and she said she whole-heartedly is. She said it never feels like work to her and she absolutely loves it. She said that people come to her canning classes in trepidation having fears and worries about the canning process and all the work it entails. She said she loves showing people how easy and enjoyable it is and feels it is her calling to "spread the gospel of canning!" 

To Find Out More About The Preserving Place & Must Have Tools For Canning Click Below... 

Just in case you're wondering, this is not a sponsored post. I just love sharing with others when I have found a "gem."  I absolutely adore support others in their passions and successes. The Preserving Place is definitely a success! Scroll all the way down to see what tools Martha said were absolute "musts" with getting started in canning and pickling.

As you can see above, Martha's gorgeous store is set up as a sort of one stop shoppe for canning, pickling, making jams, and everything preserving. In the back of her space there is a large wide open kitchen used for the classes that she does. The front of her shoppe is filled with already preserved and canned goods that you can buy already made. I've tasted her jams and they're so delicious. 

If you're inspired by the idea of canning, but don't have the time or energy to can yourself, then you can buy her yummy treats. She gets all of her ingredients from local farmers, so you're supporting local farms and artisans by buying from her. Not to mention, everything is delicious!

 One of my favorite things about her shoppe is that it is filled with beautiful items that she has taken from her family's farm, such as these feed sacks she framed above. The beauty of her heritage and the "olden days" are weaved so charmingly throughout the Modern feel of her store. It really makes for such a quaint little space and I always love going in there!

 I would be hard pressed to find another shoppe as pretty as her's and I mean that. I honestly wish my house could be decorated like her store! The charm and decor kind of begs you to sit on her lovely chairs and read the books and magazines on canning and preserving. Her shop also offers cookbooks and information on how to get started canning and advanced preparations. 

Where to Get Started with Canning and what Tools You Need: 

Let me first start by saying, I don't know if we could have done this whole canning thing without first visiting The Preserving Place. We basically started out with very little knowledge and we didn't want to waste money on materials we didn't need or not have the materials that we did need. The only thing we knew we didn't need to purchase was mason jars, as we already have a large stock of those! However, we definitely didn't leave empty handed! We asked her what are some things that we absolutely needed if we wanted to get started canning. She thoroughly explained which items we needed, could do without, and which items would just be helpful in the process. 

We purchased one book and one magazine, pictured above. I asked Martha what book would be best for us considering we have had zero canning experience. She quickly took us to the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. She said she would definitely recommend this one above any others for all of the information and instruction it contains. We also purchased the July/August issue of the Taste of Home Magazine which featured The Preserving Place and Martha's canned tomato recipe and instructions (pictured above). They featured a beautiful spread of Martha and her store. The recipe and instructions are actually quite helpful as well. It's best to learn from the master herself! 

Martha showed us a pot that would be good to have for canning, although Ben and I have a pot very similar that we will just use. What we didn't have is a canning rack. You definitely don't want to just put your cans in the pot without a rack of some sorts because the cans can go down to the bottom of the pot and burn and crack when it touches the bottom surface or get jostled in the boiling water. She told us a few stories of how people have used really interesting and funny items as a "make-shift" canning rack, with less than wonderful results. Needless to say, we bought the canning rack! 

Martha also pointed us to this Ball Utensil set. She didn't say it was an absolute must, but she said it is extremely helpful and will save you a lot of time and energy. It was $10, so we bought it. It also contains a lot of helpful tools that are necessary in canning. For example: the jar lifter. She said some people try to use tongs as jar lifters and that can be really dangerous. You really need a good quality jar lifter to be able to lift the jars out of boiling water. On that same note, the bubble remover and headspace tool will also come in handy. Martha said that headspace is very important when you are canning. Headspace is the space in between the surface of the filing and the rim of the jar. Martha said recipes call for certain amounts of "headspace" and it's important to adhere to the amounts called for in the recipes or you may have less than successful results. Our headspace tool will be very easy in helping us determine the exact amounts. You can view the Ball Utensil set online and see what other tools come with it. 

The only other thing that we purchased was the lid rack. Martha explained to us that she used to warm her lids in a bowl of warm weather, but they would always inevitably stick to themselves and she would have a harder time pulling them apart. Or, she wouldn't realize that some had stuck to each other and she would screw them on only realizing she was short lids at the end of the process and had some jars containing more than one lid in it. The lid rack isn't a must, but in an effort to save some time and energy we purchased that as well. 

What we didn't buy:
As I said above, we didn't buy a pot as we already have one in similar size. We also did not buy any pickling or preserving spices or mediums. You can use citric acid or "pickling spices" already made by Ball, but Ben and I are very particular with what ingredients we use and consume and those weren't as "natural" as we like our ingredients to be. Plus, it's just as easy for us to add our own seasoning and spices. 

We left feeling very confident and even excited to get started with canning our tomatoes. We aren't worried at all. This may be a different story once we actually start the process, but as for now we have everything we need including the tomatoes we bought from our Farmer's Market that I talked about yesterday. I can't wait to have organic, local tomatoes this winter to make my famous soups and sauces with. You'll be sure to hear it from me here first on how our canning adventures go! Let me know any tricks or tips any of you have!

Happy Canning! 
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