Sealed with Smiles

Sealed with Smiles

A new tradition is being fostered at Silver Creek Middle School following a couple popular afterschool food preservation workshops.

A pair of two-day enrichment opportunities in the form of canning workshops was facilitated this fall by the Middle School’s Family and Consumer Science department in cooperation with the Guidance and Counseling department. The hands-on workshops were a hit with students in sixth grade through eighth grade with about three dozen participating. The students signed up for the free sessions that spanned six hours and were held over two days.

The first workshop, held Sept. 21-22, focused on making and canning applesauce. A bushel of locally grown 20 Ounce Pippin apples was donated by Liz Tytka of Hamlet Farms in Sheridan. Twenty Ounce Pippins are one of the oldest American apples and their large size makes them ideal for canning. And, it should be noted, that most store-bought applesauce differs greatly from homemade applesauce in taste and ingredients. (The student recipe contained only apples, cinnamon and a little lemon juice.)

The second session, held Oct. 5-6, saw the students making grape juice and grape jelly out of locally sourced Concord grapes. Silver Creek alum Robert Yonker of Sheridan donated the fruit. Yonker graduated from Silver Creek in 1962.

Both workshops focused on proper preparation (sanitation, handwashing, ensuring you have the correct supplies), using a funnel, and the importance of allowing proper headspace in the canning jars so as to ensure no leakage. The lessons were enthusiastically embraced by the participants, who enjoyed the hands-on nature of the projects. Each student was invited to take home one jar from each session to enjoy with their families.

For the organizers, the robust attendance and student enthusiasm were gratifying. The multi-age interaction between the groups was seamless with the seventh-graders already enrolled in the FACS classes assuming many of the cooking duties and guiding the younger and older students.

By student request, it looks like these afterschool canning sessions will become an annual fall enrichment activity for years to come at Silver Creek. The organizers are grateful to the community collaborators who donated the fruit and helped make this experience possible. Anyone interested in donating to future canning workshops are encouraged to contact Jessica Huff at

Student stirs grape jelly.

 Students scoop applesauce.

Two students try their hand at canning.

A student uses a funnel to put grape jelly in a canning jar.

Students wearing aprons work near a waterbath.
A proud students poses near the canning station.