The head chef at Bernardin, Emerie Brine was the expert on site to teach proper canning techniques last week.
Brine, who has had his own catering company, worked for Kraft Foods for a decade and is now the head chef at Bernardin, the name brand in canning, said he grew up in a large family where canning was the norm.
“Canning was…a natural fit,” said Brine.
Now with the resurgence of farmers’ markets across North America and increased education around the importance of food to our health, canning is also becoming increasingly popular.
The rising cost of food is also a contributing factor, according to Brine, who says that canning food allows people to eat more locally as well, which benefits the local economy.
But it’s not always as easy as people think to can their own food either.
“When people come to my workshops, they know how their mother did it and how their grandmother did it,” he said, but he doesn’t necessarily think they always did it properly.
His job last week was to teach a group of eight people how to safely can food using both water bath and pressure canning techniques.
The workshop was put on jointly by Bernardin and Fresh Choice Kitchens, a project of the Greater Vancouver Foodbank Society, which works with community based organizations.
The goal of the “Train the Trainer” workshop was to teach the techniques to community kitchen leaders so they can then put on workshops in their own communities and disseminate the information to make for more sustainable communities.
Brine pointed out how it can be even more important in northern communities to have this kind of knowledge, as while there is enough food, to have healthy local food all year, you have to have ways to preserve it.
Diane Collis, manager of Fresh Choice Kitchens said her group had worked with Fireweed from the Fort in the past, but this was the first time Bernardin had been invited to do a train the trainer courses.
She felt the workshop had the potential to produce some good results in the area.
“We look to empower communities,” she said.
Fireweed organizers said they hope to now put on canning courses locally for the rest of the community.