Can your tomatoes safely -- take a class.

One of the most memorable pieces I’ve read in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle was about a woman who had contracted botulism. The upshot of the article was that the woman was fully awake and aware, but she was unable to move or communicate. The scene I remember most: a nurse thought that the patient was a country music fan, and played it nonstop. The trouble was, the patient didn’t care for country music, and had no way of telling her nurse. I could imagine myself in that scenario, only it would be one of my sons playing me his Weird Al Yankovic recordings to cheer me up — a horrific scenario!

The woman contracted botulism from fish, but another way you can contact botulism is from food that hasn’t been canned properly. That’s why a few years ago, I took a tomato canning class with Judy Price, who is the New York State Home Canning Expert for the Cornell Cooperative Extension. I recently spoke to her for an article on tomatoes that will run in an upcoming Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

“Botulism in tomatoes is extremely rare,” Judy said,“but I worry about people using Aunt Nellie’s recipes or Great Grandma’s recipes. Our tomatoes today aren’t the tomatoes they had.”

She added that people tend to want to add peppers, onions and other vegetables that reduces the acidity of what’s in the can, which increases the risk of bacteria.

Judy is teaching a class on canning tomatoes tomorrow and I highly recommend it. The deadline for registering was yesterday but I’m told they still have room, and will accept registrations today. In addition, Wegmans is having one-hour tomato classes at their cooking school in their Pittsford store. I have taken a knife skills class at their cooking school and learned a lot; I’m thinking about going to the Wegmans canning class to brush up on what Judy taught me.

Here’s information for the canning classes:

Judy Price’s Hands-On Canning Workshop For Beginners

Saturday July 28, 10am – 1pm at Artisan Church 1235 Clinton Ave. South, Rochester, NY 14620

Judy Price, Cornell Cooperative Extension Food Preservation Expert, will teach you how to can tomatoes in a boiling water canner. You will learn to make (and take home) 1 pint of shelf stable canned tomatoes so that you become comfortable with hot water bath canning. You will also take home an information packet with instructions and recipes that will allow you to make other tomato products (BBQ, chili Sauce, crushed tomatoes and more). Workshop Fee: $33.00

Register Here:
Registration Deadline was July 26 — they have said they will accept registrations today.

Wegmans Canning 101: Preserving the Season’s Best–Tomatoes

Chef Mark will be demonstrating the basics of canning, showing you how to create lots of great canned items with tomatoes, and sharing samples.

Thursday, August 16 from 6:00 – 7:00 PM
Tuesday, August 28 from 6:00 – 7:00 PM

Wegmans Menu Cooking School at Pittsford — Upstairs in the Menu Development Kitchen, 3195 Monroe Avenue, Rochester, NY 14618. Call for reservations at (585) 249-0278. The cost is $5.

Note: this piece also ran in my blog on the Flavors of Rochester website.