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Last November The Meat Department’s manager, Cheryl Torrance, invited me to photograph an in-store demo event for Manning Canning products. That is when I met Christine Manning for the first time in real life. Previous to meeting Christine we had chatted and shared messages on Facebook and Twitter and I absolutely adored her Spicy Pickled Carrots, which I purchased at The Meat Department. Click on any photo to see a larger version:

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Christine is passionate about her products and watching her providing samples and interacting with The Meat Department customers bore out that fact.

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Christine started Manning Canning a little over a year ago. Having watched her Nona and her mother in the kitchen gave her the skills to make her own line of jams, jellies, marmalades and pickled items. Christine’s products are currently for sale at The Meat Department, 207 Danforth; The Butcher Shop, 3487 Kingston Road; and Best of Ontario Market, 21 High Street in MacTier.

Christine has a full-time job Monday to Friday and spends her Sundays in the kitchen making her products. On Saturdays she does her in-store demonstrations and also is able to provide customers with Private Preserving Classes. This past Saturday Christine invited me to attend an in-home private class. The classes are a great way to learn the process of canning and it’s a great way to get a bunch of friends together for a canning party.

Prior to the class, Christine asks her customers whether they would like to make jams/jellies or pickled items. Christine brings all the necessary items to your home including fruits, vegetables, herbs, sugar, pots, knives, jars and even a portable hot plate. All you have to provide is your kitchen.

The class I attended was hosted by a husband and wife and they invited six of their friends. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and they were all enjoying some refreshments.

Christine began with an outline of the canning process, details about sugar and pectin and the need for sterilization of the canning equipment.

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After handing out the Orange Onion Jam recipe, Christine put the guests to work chopping onions and oranges.

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It was not all hard work as everyone enjoyed some great conversation and a few laughs.February_2_ChristineManning_33_2013-02-02_15-16-24_DSC_7982February_2_ChristineManning_41_2013-02-02_15-28-03_DSC_7989

The cooking process began.February_2_ChristineManning_42_2013-02-02_15-28-40_DSC_7990February_2_ChristineManning_46_2013-02-02_15-44-03_DSC_7994

The gang prepared sage and thyme.February_2_ChristineManning_47_2013-02-02_15-44-14_DSC_7995

The crowd gathered around the stove as we reached a critical stage of stirring, not too fast and not too slow.February_2_ChristineManning_52_2013-02-02_16-00-59_DSC_8000February_2_ChristineManning_58_2013-02-02_16-26-58_DSC_8004February_2_ChristineManning_60_2013-02-02_16-27-58_DSC_8006

Next up was the removal of the sterilized jars from the water bath. Christine made it look so easy with the jar lifter and it took a bit of practice for some to get the hang of it.February_2_ChristineManning_63_2013-02-02_16-30-51_DSC_8009.February_2_ChristineManning_62_2013-02-02_16-30-39_DSC_8008February_2_ChristineManning_65_2013-02-02_16-31-54_DSC_8011February_2_ChristineManning_67_2013-02-02_16-32-41_DSC_8013

Then it was time to get the jam into the sterilized jars.February_2_ChristineManning_74_2013-02-02_16-36-58_DSC_8020

The rims of the jars had to be wiped clean so that there was no chance for the lid not to seat properly. The lids were applied and the rings were hand tightened. The jars then went back into the simmering water bath for 15 minutes.February_2_ChristineManning_87_2013-02-02_17-23-46_DSC_8033

Once the jars were removed from the water bath, you could hear the lids pop, meaning that they were perfectly sealed. Everyone received a jar to take home and we had a chance to sample some of the leftover jam. It had a perfect balance of sweet and savoury.February_2_ChristineManning_82_2013-02-02_17-05-40_DSC_8028

I had so much fun attending this class and it was good to see all the husbands in attendance. It was equally interesting for the men as for the women. An in-home class would be a great idea as part of a bridal shower or a pre-cursor to a dinner party with friends. Please contact Christine for more information and you can follow her on Twitter @misscackles as well.

Click this video link to see Christine in action.

Thank you, Christine, for a wonderful and educational afternoon!February_2_ChristineManning_19_2013-02-02_15-00-52_DSC_7969 (1)

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