Successful Food Canning Workshop!

Parkdale People's EconomyCommunity Food Flow

The Food Flow project with the West End Food Co-op held a thoroughly successful food canning workshop for community agencies this month. We roasted up a boatload of tomatoes, made them into sauce, produced tomato stock on the side and discussed the Food Flow Kitchen plans, all in three hours! We had participants from Houselink, Scott Mission, Sketch, and the Four Villages CHC. We will be running several more Community Chef workshop on a variety of topics starting in September—watch this space!

Also please read this great short report from one of the participants, titled “Canning as a way of giving life“. 

Why food canning for community agencies? The Food Flow research found that many agencies face the challenge of inconsistent fresh food donations. We heard from one small agency that got a truckload of apples one day; another one got a truckload of frozen carrots dropped off all at once. It is not easy for agencies to use or process a large donation of one item before it goes bad, and still provide diverse, healthy meals; furthermore, agencies often do not have enough storage space for large quantities of fresh or frozen donations.

So here food canning and processing come in. Food processing helps extend the lives of vegetables and fruits and make them available throughout the year. Thus it can help stabilize organizations’ food access. Food processing can also create value-added items (e.g. tomato into tomato sauce and apple into apple jam).

This workshop focused on training of hot water bath canning, using roasted tomato sauce as an example. Here are the photos from the existing workshop!

The workshop began with slicing a lot of tomatoes into half.

Extra moisture after roasting can be used as tomato soup stock!

Roasted tomatoes are put into a food processor.

Tomato sauce is jarred and placed into a hot water bath for 12 minutes.

This food canning workshop was a part of a bigger project that we have been working on: The Food Flow Kitchen. The Food Flow Kitchen project is one of the key pilot projects incubated from the two-year Food Flow project funded by Ontario Trillium Foundation.

The Food Flow Kitchen is a social enterprise that will provide commercial-scale food processing services for non-profit agencies. The Food Flow Kitchen is being designed to address some of the challenges and unmet needs of community agencies that the Food Flow research identified in 2013. With the support of Toronto Enterprise Fund, we are currently developing a strong business plan. This food canning workshop provided us with the opportunity to solicit feedback and inputs on services and programs that the Food Flow Kitchen can provide.

We are planning to organize another food processing workshop for community agencies soon! Please let us know if you are interested in participating by emailing us at

*Big thanks to West End Food Co-op! And thank you for the support from Ontario Trillium Foundation and Toronto Enterprise Fund/Enp-TO.