Les Petits Chefs get canning with Joanna Sable

Pouring pickling liquid on beets on eatlivetravelwrite.comYou know it’s been a fun Petits Chefs session when the science lab is a huge mess either during or after a cooking club session and/ or if there are hardly any photos of the boys at work and the fruits of their labour 😉 This week was one of those weeks when we welcomed Joanna Sable into the lab to show the boys some basic canning techniques.

Joanna is a Cordon Bleu (London, England) trained chef. She began her career in a family business, (Sable & Rosenfeld Foods) in many capacities – from a 9 year-old vegetable chopper graduating to international sales in both Canada and the U.S.  She also worked in recipe development and cookbook writing.  Prior to moving to London for school, she worked as an Au Pair in the South of France cooking for a family and working in restaurants. After graduating Cordon Bleu at 21, she worked at the Windsor Arms, then moved into catering and events, spending many years in this field.  In the last 5 years she created her own local canning company, Bumpercrop. The premise of this company was a focus on local produce and helping farmers maximize their output.  This company was recently sold so that Joanna could move forward into other areas of the food industry.

Joanna reached out to me in the spring after seeing one of my Instagram photos of the Petits Chefs in action to ask if she could come and show them some canning.  I immediately told her “yes” though I admit I was a little worried about the time factor. I know an hour is not that long!  Also, I’ll be honest and admit I wondered what the boys would think about canning.  At the end of the day, even though it might seem complex, it’s actually rather basic so I hoped there would be enough to hold their attention. I needn’t have worried in the slightest! Monday’s session was fast-paced, interesting and so much fun (for me as well as the boys!) and I can’t wait to put some of Joanna’s tips into action in my own kitchen!

Joanna’s plans to make both pickled beets AND apple butter had me planning two different groups of boys working on separate recipes in my head. But when she arrived, she assured me that we would get both recipes done and all the boys would participate in both! Ok then. I like it when the guest chefs think big too!

We started out with the apple butter and a lot of apple peeling. We had very shiny apples so they were a little hard to peel with the vegetable peelers but the boys managed pretty well with the knives.

Kids peeling apples on eatlivetravelwrite.comKids cutting apples on eatlivetravelwrite.comOnce they had peeled and chopped three apples each, it was time to get those cooking down with a little water until they were just starting to break down – then we added some sugar and cinnamon.

Kids making apple butter on eatlivetravelwrite.comThen we cooked and cooked (making sure to stir really well and carefully) until the apples were lovely and mushy…

And voilà – apple butter.

Apple butter on eatlivetravelwrite.comMeanwhile, the boys got to work on the beets.

Kids peeling beets on eatlivetravelwrite.comI have to say the boys’ stations resembled a bit of a blood bath but we were pretty good at cleaning up as we went so at the end, the only things stained pink were the boys’ hands!

Kids pickling beets on eatlivetravelwrite.comOnce the beets were peeled, we washed them again, then chopped them into rough cubes. We filled our jars with the beets, topped them with a little dill…

Kids putting beets in mason jars on eatlivetravelwrite.comKids working with beets on eatlivetravelwrite.comPickled beets on eatlivetravelwrite.com then watched as Joanna prepared the hot syrup to pour over (and do its “pickling” thing!). Vinegar, water and sugar boiled up and poured over the beets.

Pouring pickling sirop on beets on eatlivetravelwrite.comJoanna talked the boys through the different ways to make sure the jars are sealed. We didn’t have time to process the jars by placing them in a pot of water and boiling until the buttons in the lids popped in.  Joanna explained that by placing these in the fridge, we could achieve the same thing (and many of the boys’ jars cooled down sufficiently over the course of the session that their jars sealed themselves).  We carefully wrote the date they would be ready to eat (three weeks from now) on the labels and sent the boys home with two jars of deliciousness. Some of which (the apple butter) did not even make it home I hear 😉

Thank you so much Joanna for showing the boys how easy (and fun!) it is to preserve produce. I know the boys were very proud of what they achieved in the hour we had together (and their parents were pretty impressed at pickup too!). You’ve inspired me to think about some easy pickling this long weekend too 🙂


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6 thoughts on “Les Petits Chefs get canning with Joanna Sable”

  1. It certainly looked like a jammed-packed but very successful class for LPC. I have yet to get over my fear of poisoning someone with something I canned so I haven’t attempted to do any canning or preserving of any kind. That apple butter sure looks good, not surprised some of it didn’t make it home with LPC.

  2. It was good to see this… I think supermarkets have made canning something of a lost art.
    It’s a good lesson for youngsters.
    Well done, as always, LPCs.


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