Kensington: At Food Workshop, Greensgrow Teaches the Art of Preserving Seasonal Flavors

As cookbook author and full-time teacher, Marisa McClellan has undoubtedly mastered the art of preserving.

Currently, McClellan runs her own blog, Food In Jars, and co-hosts the food podcast Local Mouthful. Her three cookbooks focus on preserving, canning and providing healthy alternatives to sweetening.

Greens grow Farms, a nonprofit in Kensington focused on making urban farming accessible, hosts a different workshop in its community kitchen every Saturday afternoon to educate the neighborhood. The classes are located in St. Michael’s Lutheran Church at Trenton and Cumberland streets, and can vary from proper gardening methods to fermenting your own kombucha.

The creations in McClellan’s third book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, reflected the teachings at a workshop on March 19: how to properly replace refined sugar with honey, coconut palm sugar, agave, maple, dried fruits or dried fruit concentrate.

The goal was to make sure all questions about preserving food were answered so attendees went home feeling empowered and able to do it on their own.

“We are so lucky with the farms and orchards in the surrounding area, as well places like Greensgrow, where it’s an urban farm – a little oasis in the middle of the city,” said McClellan.

For $35, this workshop was one of the more inexpensive events. Overall, the kitchen netted more than $2,000 in revenues last year.

McClellan’s intricate knowledge of food allowed her to answer a range of questions related to preserving. With every question, an enlightened and instructional response from McClellan followed.

“Coming to a class and especially hearing the beginners’ questions, who are still a bit afraid, remind me of when I was in that stage,” said Lucia Kubik, a returning attendee of McClellan’s workshop. “It’s a great experience for me, too, because it might be something I hadn’t thought to ask.”

The Greensgrow Community Kitchen is a place for aspiring food entrepreneurs to get their start.

“We try to keep the rent for the clients cheap so that they can have successful businesses,” said Adam Eshleman, the kitchen manager. “They’re all upstarts, so it’s an incubator kitchen.”

The businesses that use the Greensgrow Community Kitchen range from nascent craft businesses, such as small-batch jelly makers, to larger companies, such a food trucks; among the success stories from this collaboration are Cloud Coffee, Farm Truck and Fifth of a Farm Creations.

The kitchen is a way for the community to encourage small food businesses and educate the public at the same time.

Attendees of the March 19 workshop not only went home with a jar of pear honey vanilla jam, but the confidence and knowledge they need to preserve their own creations.

-Photos, video and text by Emily Ganser

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