Greetings, O Patient Ones!
My goodness, it’s been ages since we’ve been in touch. As you may remember, for a long while I was between houses (and likewise, kitchens). No kitchen = no cooking = no posts. Or so I thought for a while, until it began to look like I might never have an apartment ever again because Universe, why are you punishing me? In the meantime, I began to take over the kitchens of various friends, and then I stumbled upon The Dep!
In case you’ve never heard about it, The Depanneur is — at least in my opinion — one of the most interesting, most important food venues we have in Toronto. You can do anything in that magical little shop. Every week, it hosts a variety of workshops, drop-in dinners cooked by local chefs, supper clubs, and brunch. What’s more, downstairs they run a co-op kitchen for food entrepreneurs, and they rent out their commercial kitchen and dining area upstairs to people (like myself, as a matter of fact) in need of some space to cook/host dinner parties when there isn’t room at their own places.
Honestly, in a city where the food dialogue is rarely strays from “youngish white dude cooks even more beef and pork in latest restaurant,” it is extremely refreshing to have a space where home cooks, food enthusiasts, and complete and utter beginners can come together to learn. It’s about creating a community — and if the canning class I took there a few weeks ago was any indication, it’s a highly welcoming one. If you’re at all interested in the goings-on at The Dep right now, feel free to check out their event calendar or sign up for their newsletter.
In any case, a few weeks ago, Christine Manning’s workshop on peach canning at The Dep caught my eye, so I signed myself and Alan up. Christine is the creator, owner, and head chef of Manning Canning, a small-batch, artisanal preserving company that “captures the seasons in jars.” She also happens to be extremely friendly, and she was a veeeeeeeeeeery patient teacher both during and after the class, as we all peppered her with questions about jars and jams and — of course — botulism.
Christine was also kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for me to share here with you guys!
In the kitchen with Christine Manning:
One Tough Cookie: How did you get involved with The Depanneur?
Christine Manning: I went with some friends to a Rusholme Park Supper Club and loved the atmosphere that Len had created at The Dep. At the end of the evening I went up and spoke to him about potential preserving classes…and that was that.
OTC: How did you become interested in canning/preserving?
CM: To be honest, I don’t think I had a choice when it came to preserving. It was just something that was a part of my life from as early as I can remember. It was a chore like any other; mowing the lawn or washing the dishes. My nona, my mom and my aunt were all canners, so I was kind of surrounded by it throughout my life. I just feel lucky that it turned into a passion and now my living.
OTC: How long has Manning Canning been your full-time job?
CM: I just took the leap mid-May this year. Before that I had a full time digital marketing job and Manning Canning was my evenings and weekend job.
OTC: What’s your absolute favourite recipe that you make?
CM: People are sometimes disappointed when I tell them that my favourite recipe has been, and I think always will be, raspberry jam. I love everything about it. From picking the raspberries, to preserving them, right on down to eating them. It is such a simple recipe with only two ingredients and I think it captures beautifully the simplicity of canning and the fact that jam can taste like the actual fruit used to make it.
OTC: What are your top three recommendations for people new to home canning?
1) Follow trusted recipes to ensure you end up with a safe product.
2) Don’t double batch sizes. Preserving just doesn’t work that way.
3) Have fun. Make it a social event. I loved hanging out with my family when we were preserving. It felt so communal and bonding.
OTC: What’re some of your favourite places to eat in Toronto?
CM: I live in the east end, so will share some of my local favourites. Arz Fine Foods has an olive bar that melts my knees. Shawarma Empire always has a line up, but trust me it is well worth the wait.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Christine! If any readers are interested in learning more about Manning Canning, Christine’s wonderful blog can be found here. She sells her products at the Fairmount Park, Withrow, and Appletree Toronto farmers’ markets, and a number of other stores, as well as online.
She was also kind enough to let me share her recipe for peaches in simple syrup. If you’re completely new to canning/preserving, please take some time to read about the best practices for sterilization and so forth in order to avoid contaminating your food and getting sick! Check out the information available from Bernardin’s “Getting Started” page, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s page –heck, even the Canadian government has a heap of information for you!
Christine Manning’s Peaches in Simple Syrup
Yield: 3-4 (500ml) jars
- 8 – 10 peaches, peeled and sliced
- 3 cups sugar
- 6 cups water
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
1. Put your jars in the water bath and bring to a boil to sterilize. Right before filling, put the jars on the counter. Soak the lids in a pan of hot water to soften the rubber seals.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and dip the peaches into the water for 20 to 45 seconds. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and put into a large bowl of cold water and ice (if possible) for several minutes. The skin should basically peel off at this point and you can slice the peaches or cut them in half. Completely up to your personal preference. Place in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup of lemon juice (this prevents darkening of the fruit) and stir.
3. Combine the sugar and water in a medium sized non-reactive pot and bring to a simmer and add the peaches. Stir and maintain the simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Pack the peaches into sanitized jars and cover with boiling sugar syrup leaving 1/2″ head space. Run a rubber spatula gently between peaches and jar to release trapped air bubbles. Wipe rim and screw threads with a clean damp cloth. Add lid, screw band and tighten firmly and evenly. Do not over-tighten.
5. Place in water bath canner and process for 20 minutes.
Back soon with more recipes!