Success StoryFood Preservation

Food Preservation

Author: Lora Davidson

Planning Unit: Laurel County CES

Major Program: Food Preservation

Plan of Work: LIfe Skills and Financial Stablity

Outcome: Intermediate Outcome

17 participants (14 female, 3 male) attended the Harlan County SNAP Food Preservation Workshop.  Very few of the participants had very little food preservation experience.

Lora Davidson, Harlan County Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, did an excellent job hosting the workshop and involving all of the Harlan County Extension staff.  Agriculture Agent, Jeremy Williams, attended the workshop available to answer any gardening questions and to distribute the UK Annual Gardening booklet upon request.  Raymond Cox, the 4-H Youth Development Agent came by for part of the workshop.  The new EFNEP Assistant, Callie Lowery also attended along with several other staff and program assistants.  The team effort helped to make the Food Preservation Workshop successful.  Lora conducted evaluations, provided lunches, distributed bags of SNAP food preservation resources, and helped out throughout the workshop.

Jennifer Klee and Peggy Helton, retired Family and Consumer Sciences Agents, demonstrated correct procedures for using food preservation equipment emphasizing the sections in the SNAP Food Preservation booklet (5th edition) of the University of Kentucky research based methods and recipes for the pressure canner, boiling water canner, dehydrator, and freezer.  Participants were encouraged to always use a recipe from their booklet or other recommended resources like the Annual Ball Canning booklet or the University of Georgia "So Easy to Preserve" book, to gather correct ingredients and equipment, and to prepare and process the food as stated in the research based recipe to ensure safe, high quality preserved food.

Two families talked about their canning experience with the pressure canner.  Both families had not followed any recipe and had not followed the correct research based method.  One family had always canned green beans without adding boiling water to their beans.  They just filled the jars with beans only and canned them in the pressure canner.  They said that they had beans that were four years old processed this way. The other family talked about canning blackberries in the pressure canner.  These stories illustrate clearly the need for SNAP Food Preservation programs.  Participants were reminded that the only way to ensure safe preserved foods is to use research based recipes and methods.

Participants reinforced what they learned through hands-on activities using the recipes in their SNAP Food Preservation booklets.  They canned green beans in the pressure canner,  canned tomatoes and salsa in the boiling water canner, dried apples, bananas, and tomatoes in the pressure canner, blanched and prepared corn for the freezer, and prepared low-sugar and high sugar peach freezer jam.  Participants enjoyed tasting the recipes.  They commented that they surprisingly liked and preferred the low sugar freezer jam.  

One family from three households that attended represented three generations - Mother, 3 daughters, and a granddaughter (4-H age).  They were all very eager to learn food preservation methods, especially drying because they had just bought a dehydrator that they share.  They were eager to dry different fruits and vegetables and fruit leathers.  The granddaughter was very interested in learning and plans to attend 4-H and SNAP food and nutrition programs in the future.

By the end of the workshop, participants had more confidence about preserving foods, more resources to help them succeed in preserving safe, high quality foods, and more knowledge about food (difference in high and low acid foods and how that affects the canning method to follow, importance of adding acid to tomatoes and tomato products, and signs of food spoilage in preserved foods) - knowledge that will steer them in the right direction to preserve foods correctly ensuring safe delicious preserved foods.  One lady expressed it best when she said,  "Thanks so much for this workshop!  I have learned so much and have had fun too!"  That kind of learning sticks with you throughout life!

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