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A woman immerses cans in a hot water bath

A participant uses canning equipment

to immerse her jars in a hot water bath.

Tyrrell County Cooperative Extension Columbia, NC

Tyrrell County

As winter thaws and home gardeners begin planting their spring gardens, Cooperative Extension Agent Dee Furlough starts planning for another series of classes on how to preserve produce at home. These classes, offered from late spring to early fall, teach youth and adults how to preserve the fruits and vegetables they grow. This allows them to store their produce so they can eat it all year. Topics include hot water canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, and freezing produce. Participants also learn about food safety strategies to ensure their preserved foods are safe to eat.

The classes are held at the Cooperative Extension office, which has a teaching kitchen with plenty of canning supplies. After a brief introduction and food safety talk, participants break into small groups and practice a food preservation technique. Everyone gets to take home the food they preserved during class. Participants also receive the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and healthy recipes, such as no-sugar jams and jellies, that have been approved by food safety experts at the Cooperative Extension.

Participants can borrow supplies to use at home, which allows them to preserve their produce without having to purchase equipment. These classes improve access to healthy food all year, reduce waste by preserving excess produce, and encourage physical activity through home gardening.

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Whether you are interested in hosting your own food preservation class or joining one that is already going, a good first stop is your local Cooperative Extension office. Many offices already have a teaching kitchen and the necessary supplies, along with an expert who can teach the class. If they do not have a local expert, they can connect you with an “Area Specialized Agent” who can help you find the right resources and recipes.

It is very important to follow food safety guidelines, especially when canning. Be sure to get guidance from a professional, such as a Cooperative Extension Agent or health educators at your local health department. They can help you find recipes tested by food safety experts, and share food safety information. If you look for recipes online, be sure to use a trusted source such as Fresh Preserving or those listed on this page from Clemson University.




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