Canning lessons teach survival skills for today's fast-paced world, as well as tomorrow's faster-paced world ruled by sentient vegetables. Stockpile culinary moves with today's Groupon: for $29, you get a canning-and-preservation class at Aquaponics and Earth in DeSoto (a $99 value). Classes begin on January 5 and take place every month on the first, third, and fourth Thursday at 1 p.m. and on the second Saturday at 10:30 a.m.
Aquaponics and Earth, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating hunger around the globe, features an organic microfarm that harvests hundreds of pounds of produce on minimal substrate, serving as a laboratory for sustainable-food-production methods. During their three-hour visit, students will learn the proper ways to can veggies, meats, and blown kisses. Founders John and Teresa Musser teach the canning class, shepherding up to 15 participants into the commercial kitchen of the farm's historic 8,000-square-foot ranch house. With plastic gloves and a favorite cutting knife brought from home, up-and-coming canners wash, chop, dice, and blanch veggies or meat; during the class, they'll also become privy to a pressure cooker's darkest culinary secrets.
In winter classes, students apply hands-on knowledge in crafting a recipe for a famous vegetable soup and Southern corn bread. Later in the season, hot peppers and salsa cram their way into cans, gift baskets for a loved one, and PB&J sandwiches for heat-seeking tongues.
Aquaponics and Earth Sustainable Living
On Aquaponics and Earth’s sustainable farm, tilapia pools teeming with fish come up against rows of organic plants, which they hydrate via the farm’s energy-efficient growing and waste-recycling system. Founders and aqua-farmers John and Teresa Musser began experimenting with high-yield aquaponics in response to the crushing poverty they saw abroad and invented much of the equipment and methods they use in the search for a sustainable, affordable system they could share with the world. The Mussers have worked around the globe in orphanages and small villages since 1979 but began shifting their focus to infrastructure and education work to bring easy-to-learn agricultural techniques to impoverished areas.
The Mussers maintain their DeSoto farm not only to grow food, but to act as an educational resource for people who want to observe their methods and build their own aquaponics systems. Their organic microfarm, populated by rabbits, goats, microcows, and vermicomposting bins, harvests hundreds of pounds of produce each year on minimal substrate. Inspired by their frantic efforts one year to absorb a surplus of produce, the Mussers lead regular canning classes where students learn the proper ways to can seasonal veggies, meats, and blown kisses.