Bring your garden produce and leave with canned goods

Virginia Potkins’ garden, like most of ours, had a hard go of it this year. The only things that thrived in the cold and damp were beets, radishes, and carrots—good news for her, actually.

“I love pickled carrots!” she says enthusiastically. “That would be my favourite. I could probably eat a jar of those every week.”

Potkins has canned for much of her life, and loves eating canned or pickled produce throughout the winter. She wants to share that love at her upcoming canning workshop at Alberta Avenue Community Hall on Oct. 6 from 10 am until they are done, likely around 6 pm. A $15 fee will cover the cost of jars and ingredients, while participants will bring their own veggies (they must be washed beforehand).

“Some people will bring more, some people bring less. It’ll all work out. It all depends on what you grew in your garden. Maybe you didn’t grow beets this year, or maybe somebody has way too much and they don’t know what to do with them.”

The workshop is open to anyone, regardless of their experience. She’ll set everyone up to chop vegetables and go through the process of pickling and canning together.

“The whole process from canning to washing the jars and sterilizing them, to making the brine, and sealing the preserves.”

It sounds like a lot, which is why many people shy away from canning. But Potkins is confident everyone can learn.

“It’s a process, but it’s actually not as difficult as people think. I think people get intimidated by how many steps, but it’s actually not as hard as they think.”

Home canning is worth it, she says. It’s often one-third cheaper than buying preserves from the store, and because you grew them yourself, you know what the quality will be like.

“It’s pesticide free, it’s basically organic. If you go to the store and you want to buy organic, it can be quite costly. And here it is, it’s in your backyard. The one thing I would suggest is that you should leave all the produce in the ground until just before the workshop so it’s as fresh as possible.” 

You can also make it exactly how you like it.

“You can experiment. Last year I did pickles with extra garlic, and my husband likes spicy stuff so I’ll throw some hot peppers in there. You can make them how you want, try new recipes. My mother just sent me a pickled beet recipe with red wine vinegar, and we’ll try those. They’re really good.”

Workshop participants will go home with jars of pickles and the knowledge to do it at home.

“You don’t need any fancy canning stuff. I use a roasting pan to sterilize my jars and an old stock pot for sealing them. It’s pretty simple. And honestly, it’s going to taste better.”

Check for registration information.


Oct. 6, 10 am until about 6 pm

Alberta Ave Community Hall

9210 118 Ave

Register via

Featured Image: The canning workshop will teach participants how to can or pickle their own produce. Credit: Mari Sasano.