Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Food Preservation Class

Yesterday I spent all afternoon making these six cans of preserves. It's two quarts of Apple Pie Filling and 4 half-pints of Pickled Radish Relish. The radishes are fresh out of my garden -Yum! The Radish Relish tasted pretty good right out of the pan, so I imagine it's going to be even better after it sits and the flavors meld.

I am taking a class through the county extension on food preservation. It's their Master Food Preserver class, and it's 9 weeks long, one full day a week. We started with food safety, why things spoil, what makes food unsafe, and then moved on to freezing, drying, canning high-acid foods (like the apple pie filling) and pickling (like the relish). Next week I think we do jellies, and after that low-acid foods using a pressure canner.

It's a hands on class, so every week we actually get to do this stuff with volunteers right there to help us through the steps. I remember things so much better hands on. At this point I feel like I confidently understand why you do what you do to make sure your preserves are safe to eat when you're ready to use them. I felt like I wanted to make some preserves at home so if I had any questions I could ask the teacher at class this week before we moved on to something new, but it actually went quite well. By the book, so to speak.

The price for this class, aside from the lab fee, is to put in 40 hours of volunteer time after class is over. This will be things like manning the county food safety line and answering people's questions about if something is spoiled or how to preserve foods, or going out in public and teaching classes or assisting at them, or doing pressure gauge testing clinics. So I guess that's what I'll be doing this summer!


Anonymous said...

Home canning is fun. i'm not well-versed in it. Just know enough from a couple of years of canning peach butter and blueberry preserves.

Radish relish intrigues me....is it sweet or savory?

StefRobrts said...

It's sweet and it has some dill in it. I think it will make a great hot dog relish :)

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh wow! I think this is so cool! I wonder if our county extension service offers something like this.
Used to be that mothers and grandmothers passed on their knowledge, but that seemed to have gotten cut off when processed foods from the store got popular.

I'd love to learn how to can my own foods, too. I did have fun making my own freezer jam with my apple and peach harvest last year, but that only works if folks have lots of freezer space, which I'm lucky to have out in the garage.

But it's helpful to have food storage that doesn't need refrigeration in case your power goes out or there is some kind of catastrophy.

Thanks for posting about this. I want to learn more and will be checking out our county extension office soon.


StefRobrts said...

I am fascinated by 'lost skills' - things our great grandma knew by heart but we have forgotten.

Our teacher for this class covers 3 counties, and the state keeps cutting her funding because they think no one needs this information. Meanwhile her class is usually limited to 15 people, and this year she let in 30 and has a waiting list for next year! Lots of people want to know how to do this. Many of the people in class are working with their church or community group to help people, low-income and otherwise, learn how to cook again using real food. Folks go to the food bank and they give them rice and beans and they literally don't know what to do with it! We've lost skills that we really need, and these people are trying to get them back and spread them out to people who need them most.

I hope your county has a class available as well. It has been great learning this stuff, I'm feeling so much more confident about 'putting food by'!