The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Community cannery

Castlewood Community Cannery

Canning in Mason jars at the canneryAt this time of year, fruit is often free for the asking.  We went on a tour of the Castlewood community cannery this week and stumbled across a quartet of ladies who had gathered enough apples from trees going to waste to fill a huge vat of apple butter.  Their tale of frugal scavenging reminded me that one of our neighbors has an orchard of apples that fall to the ground and rot unless someone collects them.  Off Mark went with an empty basket and a dozen eggs, and home he came with enough apples to turn into a year's worth of apple sauce.
Vat of apple butter
I opted to preserve my apples at home since I generally put food in the freezer (and process it a bit at a time, a quart here, and a gallon there.)  But community canneries make a lot of sense for folks who don't want to buy (and maintain) a pressure canner, or who do most of their year's preserving in one fell swoop.  The Castlewood Cannery will sell you cans for less than a quarter apiece (if you live in Russell County), or let you bring in your own Mason jars (charging you a few pennies per jar for use of their facility.)

The canning ladies regaled me with tales of the bounty they had canned there, ranging from the usual to cornbread, sausage, and apple sauce cake.  I could tell that spending a day at the Castlewood Cannery would earn me years of free wisdom, along with the cheap use of kitchen facilities.  To find a community cannery in your area, visit this website.

Cans and steam at the cannery
Our homemade chicken waterer is a clean alternative to the traditional waterer.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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An old friend of mine used to run the community cannery in Dungannon. We had one in St. Marys when I was a kid.
Comment by Errol Sat Sep 11 15:27:00 2010
Unforunately, the cannery in Dugannon has closed. I think that a lot of these community canneries closed down as people started buying their canned goods in the grocery store rather than preserving their own.
Comment by anna Sat Sep 11 16:45:55 2010

We have one here in Hillsville, but still haven't gone to it. After seeing how our electric stove sagged under the weight of a full canner last week, I'm thinking we might be doing our canning work there next year.

Had I known you and Mark already had enough apples to last all year, I'd have brought you some blueberry syrup instead of apple butter!

Comment by Everett Mon Sep 13 12:01:45 2010
Well, we have enough apples to make a year's supply of sauce. I could eat a whole lot more fresh! And I'm sure we'll thoroughly enjoy your apple butter --- thanks so much!
Comment by anna Mon Sep 13 16:48:37 2010

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