Gardiner Cafe Toronto

Lunch + Learn At The Gardiner Cafe

The Gardiner Museum launched its fall program of food-themed Lunch + Learn events this past Tuesday. Toronto's celebrated chef Jamie Kennedy taught the intimate group of 16 how to preserve the summer's bounty and contribute the identity of our local food culture through canning.

After a thoughtful introduction by Kennedy, outlining the importance of canning to Southern Ontario's gastronomic identity and his own personal attachment to preserving dating back to teenage years spent eating his great-aunt Myrtle's mustard pickles, we got down to work.

Jamie Kennedy Canning

While cleaning our string beans Kennedy talked about proper canning techniques and the science behind it. He touched upon what fruits and veggies take best to preserving and provided the recipe for the basic brine used for most of the canned goods coming out of JK's Kitchens. Then we stuffed our beans into the jars, topped them up with the brine and put on the lids.

Our carefully crammed jars of beans will make their way to the Gilead CafĂŠ where they will be "processed" (immersed in boiling water) for 15 minutes and retuned to the Gardiner for us to pick up. Then we will have our own little piece of summer to open up and enjoy during our wonderful Canadian winter.

Gardiner Canning Fuits

It was an intimate affair, and the small group of 16 had full access to the wealth of knowledge Chef Kennedy possesses after over 30 years of cooking experience (which included some pretty awesome turn of the century preserving literature). He was all too happy to share the personal experience he's amassed through years of canning -- everything from how to know when fruits and veggies are in peak preserving condition to understanding how that year's growing season would influence your final canned product. We also got to can some good old Ontario peaches.

As for the lunch portion of the Lunch + Learn, we got a bag lunch from Kennedy's Gilead CafĂŠ that consisted of a scone with his own crab apple preserve with tea/coffee followed by a stacked roast beef sandwich and a brownie. It was tasty, and way more food than I expected for the killer $15 price tag (the program is supported by various foundations and corporate donors).

Gardiner Cafe

There are three more events in the Lunch + Learn series, including a conversation with Canadian writer and author Lucy Waverman (of The Globe & Mail and the LCBO's Food & Drink magazine); another canning-esque event that will cover making pickles, chutneys and other preserved fruits and veggies with; and the art of slow cooking with author Judith Finlayson.

They happen on Mondays or Tuesdays and run from 12pm to 1:30pm. If you can make it out to one, it's worth checking out. Details are on the Gardiner's website.

Photos by the author.

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