Canning swap is sweet and spicy

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A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered at The Haven on Sunday for Market Central’s Canner’s Swap. It was a remarkably diverse group, I thought, yet we were united by what we carried: jars of this and that from our home kitchens. The idea was, you bring as many home-canned goods as you want, and you can go home with the same number of new treats to try.

The cookies weren’t canned. They were a vehicle for Brad Theado’s blackberry habanero jam…

…which, as it turned out, was the winner of the blue ribbon contest judged by your humble correspondent. Not an easy job, folks. I did a lot of very strenuous tasting before arriving at my decision. Congratulations, Brad!

It was so awesome to see the wide array of what people preserve. Peaches are popular (think chutney, jam, salsa…), and there was ketchup and apple sauce and something called Governor’s Sauce, and chamomile honey ground cherry preserves (!). Drew Moore and Julie Mitchell brought about eight or 10 jars and were excited to go home with a big bag of loot. Julie allowed as how this was a great way to cap off the canning season and diversify their larder.

Brad Theado, blue ribbon winner, is also a dehydration enthusiast and brought some dehydrated kale to show off. "Everything that’s not nailed down, I dehydrate," he said. That means apples, scrambled eggs, shrimp and even tomato leather, which can be reconstituted to make tomato paste. Why dehydrate? I asked. Two reasons: The stuff can last 30 years, and it only loses (according to Brad) 5 percent of its nutritive value, a big improvement compared with canning.

Personally, I came home with a jar of tomatillo habanero sauce and another filled with blackberry jam. Hurrah! More swaps are in the works. Keep your eye on the Market Central site for details.

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