Happy March! I don’t know about you, but these warm days have really given me spring fever! My daffodils have bloomed, my day lilies are slowly growing, and even some of my fresh herbs have come back around. Before long it will be time to plant some fresh produce and by the time summer comes along, may end up having too much to know what to do with. If this is the case, you’re in luck! I will be hosting our annual food preservation series, with our first workshop happening next month.
Fresh foods are perishable because they contain a high percentage of water. The practice of canning preserves foods by removing the oxygen, destroying enzymes and preventing the growth of bacteria, yeasts and mold. It is important to follow proper canning practices to ensure that food is kept safe! Pressure canning is the only safe method for canning meat, poultry, seafood and low acid veggies. Dehydrating also removes the moisture which prevents spoilage from microorganisms. The enzyme action is slowed down (though not stopped), which means that color, texture, and quality do not degrade as rapidly once food is dried.
If you’re interested in learning how to preserve fresh produce, we have many opportunities for you to learn at the Sampson County Cooperative Extension office. This series will include a total of three optional workshops. Each workshop will begin with an introduction lesson to teach participants the history of canning, how to can safely, the canning process, and the health and nutrition of canning. The classes will then follow with a hands-on workshop to help you feel comfortable canning at home. The month of March is also a great time for you to come get your pressure canner tested. If you have a pressure canner with a dial gauge, you may bring in your canner with the lid so that your gauge and gasket can be checked and tested. This is completely FREE of charge and is available to the public all year long. If your dial gauge has not been checked within the year, it is a good idea to bring it in prior to the canning season. Getting your dial gauge tested is very important to make sure your canned items are getting up to pressure and being canned safely. If you have a dial gauge canner, you should plan to do this annually. Feel free to drop your canner off at either the Duplin or Sampson County Extension office along with your name and number. Your canner will be tested and available for pick-up within the week.
Our food preservation series will consist of three classes. The classes are as follows:
– Saturday, April 7th, 10 a.m. to around 2 p.m., Boiling Water Bath workshop (Jams & Jellies, Pickles), held at the Sampson County Extension Office, Clinton.
– Saturday, May 19th, 10 a.m. to around 2 p.m., Pressure Canning workshop, held at the Sampson County Extension Office, Clinton.
– Saturday, June 9th, 10 a.m. to around 2 p.m., Drying and Freezing, held at the Sampson County Extension Office, Clinton.
Our food preservation series is sponsored by United Way of Sampson County, allowing us to provide a reduced workshop rate of $10 per class. Space is limited for these workshops, so register today by calling 910-592-7161. You can take as few or as many of the workshops as you like. If you have any questions, feel free to call our office or email Sydney Johnson at Sydney_johnson@ncsu.edu. Happy canning!
Sydney Johnson is an Area Family & Consumer Sciences extension agent, with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. She can be reached by calling the Sampson County Center at 910-592-7161.