We all love to eat like a local here in Jacksonville, but have you ever thought about learning to can your own food? Located just west of downtown Jacksonville is the Duval County Canning Center. Here you can take canning classes for all sorts of delicious food items from jellies and jams, to chutneys and relishes, soups and even meats. These classes provide everything needed for the class and you will also learn how to canning at home in your own kitchen while having fun.
What is Canning?
Canning is the process of preserving food in jars and cans. Preserving food in cans or jars is a great way to consume more local or in season food throughout the year. It’s a tradition that has been passed down for generations.
The Jacksonville Canning Center began in the 1930s on Superior Street in an old tin and wooden building at the old county prison. Back then it helped feed inmates at a local jail. During WWII the canning center evolved into a cannery that was open to all Jacksonville residents, schools and organizations. The Duval County Canning Center was built in 1978 and functions as a collaboration between the city of Jacksonville and the University of Florida IFAS. Certified Master Gardeners run classes and oversee groups and organizations who use the facility.
What to Expect at a Canning Class
Recently I took a corn relish canning class at the canning center. Prior to my arrival that Monday morning I had never canned anything in my life. I am an avid gardener and canning seems to be the next logical step to preserve our garden bounty.
Needless to say I was excited but nervous upon arrival. I was greeted by a full class of local ladies and our instructor, Phyllis. We were put to work right away, gathering our supplies in the industrial kitchen, washing and prepping our jars and vegetables. We all had our own prep and cooking stations, where we chopped and measured then prepared our recipe. As we followed instructions Phyliis went over how important each step was in canning. She graciously explained to the newbies like myself the process of canning and gave a tour of the facility. The morning reminded me of my home economics days back in high school. I loved those classes and I really was enjoying my time at the canning center. A few hours later, after cleaning up our stations and letting our jars cool we all left with multiple jars of delicious corn relish!
The Jacksonville Canning Center offers many different types of canning classes throughout the year. I am looking forward to the holiday themed ones next! There is a small fee for each class, and that covers the cost of your supplies. I highly recommend signing up for a class whether solo or with a friend. Phyllis was a wonderful instructor, because of her I feel confident and excited to start canning in my own kitchen.
Jillian Gishler is a New Englander at heart. Born in Jacksonville Beach, she grew up in Massachusetts but was beckoned back to Florida by Mickey Mouse for a Disney World Internship. She returned to the beach in 2005 after graduating from Florida State. Ten years ago she opened her handmade & vintage collective shop, Sew Vicious, in Neptune Beach. Jillian raises chickens, is a passionate gardener, a DIYer, a thrift store junkie, a deal loving mama, and has several inspirational travel journals available on Amazon. She leads her daughters Girl Scout Troop, teaches sewing at a local Montessori School, and is a Parents Who Lead Alumni. She loves surprising her husband and daughters with mini-vacations around the Sunshine State.