Food Processing Centers

Some states in the United States offer food processing centers, also called “canning plants” as a public service.  These canning plants are operated in the summers by either agricultural education staff of local school systems, or, by land grant university’s agricultural extension staff. canning-retrot

For example, in the state of Georgia,  approximately 45 food processing centers are in operation.  These centers are operated by agriculture teachers as a public service of local boards of education and funded partially by grants from the Georgia Department of Education.  The excellent concept behind food processing centers is that all citizens, even those without children, can directly recieve benefits there from the local school boards for their tax dollars.

Food processing centers often feature equipment that would not be possible for most homeowners to keep and use.  Some canning plants have large pea sheller machines.  These machines can shell 2 bushels of peas or beans in about 6 minutes.  In tomato country, a large juicer (usually industrial grade) is essential.  Also, large cooking kettles are used to cook juices, soups, stews, and sauces, in great amounts.  Smaller cooking kettles are available to do the same in lesser amounts.  They are also popular for making jams and jellies.  Occassionally, a peach or potatoe peeler may be found in a canning plant.

Retorts are a standard piece of equipment in a canning plant.  A retort is a large pressure cooker.  They are usually capable of cooking 100 quart cans at the time.  Also, stainless steel work tables are available. 

Most food processing centers are steam driven.  That is, they have a large boiler that produces the steam to power the various cooking devices and steam lines. 

One of the great aspects of a canning plant is the convenience.  A family can literally preserve all they will use in a year of a specific food in a day at a canning plant.  Working in the canning plant keeps the heat of cooking out of the home during the summer.  Finally, at the end of the day, the canning plant staff can rinse away the mess with a large water hose (not possible to do that in your kitchen).