Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homemade Happy Hour: Canning with Carla Bakes

Yesterday, some of my girlfriends and I were treated to a canning class from the talented Carla Walker, creator of Carla Bakes. You may be familiar with her bacon chocolate chip cookies from the Lowcountry Artist Market.

Our tutorial included how to make both pepper jelly and strawberry jam. Of course, we immediately got down to business.

The  business of wine, cheese, pralines, and vintage aprons that is. Be sure to check out Runaround Sue Vintage to pick up one of these classic aprons. My personal favorite - the apron with a dishtowel attached - genius! 

Carla is a pro. After going over the basics of jelly vs jam vs chutney vs preserves, we were put to work. Here's Megan and Kelly chopping peppers - jalapenos, banana, bell, and poblano.

After giving the peppers a rough chop, we threw them in the food processor, just to get all the juices out. Then, directly on to the stove. (How pretty is that orange pot?)

Carla then gave us a little insight into her "lighter" jelly - skip some of that sugar and add pectin. This cut out roughly half the sugar (which is about 4 cups; not sure how I didn't realize how much sugar was in there)!

I am incredulous at its 99 servings per box. Contains nothing, 99 servings?! Each package did come with a cheat sheet for when to add, how much to add, how long to cook, etc. 

Even Angela's 10 year old chihuahua, Tater, was in on the action.

The peppers smelled unbelievable. Just peppers, sugar, apple cider vinegar and pectin. Carla did warn us that the heat from the peppers can get in your throat, so be sure to open a door (and wait until your 3 year old goes to preschool to start) and run your fan.

After about half an hour on the stove, the peppers were ready to can. All the cans, lids, and rings were sanitized before we got there (Thanks Carla!), so we just had to make sure the lip of the jar had nothing on it to prevent the seal. Emily, Kelly, and I started an assembly line.

After you've filled the jars, into the boiling water they go. They only need about 10 minutes in there. You could buy one of these, or attach skewers to a plastic basket (as seen here). Carla had so many little tips and tricks. No need to buy a bunch of fancy accessories; you probably already have everything you need at home. Although she did pick up one of these, instead of her usual tongs. 

Same process for strawberries. The next little while was spent listening for that satisfying "pop!" of each lid sealing. We all left with a jar of pepper jelly and strawberry jam. Nothing like adding a little homemade goodness into your happy hour. 

Maybe you should email Carla and plan your class!


  1. Looks like a great time! Wish i had some of that strawberry jam!

    1. Hopefully Carla will have all her treats for sale locally soon!

  2. I want to be at the next one!

  3. Wow! I didn't know Carla hosted classes. I will definately have to send her an email. I have wanted to learn (hands on) how to can.

    1. I think we may have been one of the firsts. After trying so many of her goods at the LAM, I knew she had much to teach us! We're talking about doing a cheese class (make your own ricotta and pull mozzarella), so I think she has plenty of lesson plans!