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Mastering food preservation
The Oregon State University Extension Services is offering a Master Food Preservers class in Redmond
March 18, 2013
Food preservation enthusiasts with a desire to hone their skills and give back to their community will have an opportunity to do so next month.
The Oregon State University Extension Service in Redmond is offering a Master Food Preservers class that teaches people approved methods for canning, drying, and freezing a variety of foods.
“It’s a hands-on lab and then instruction, and they have homework and things to practice,” said Glenda Hyde, Family and Community Health Instructor for the Extension Service.
The classes take place once a week, in six-hour sessions, over a span of eight weeks. Once they complete the training, the program then requires them to volunteer their time and expertise at community events.
“We try to pair people up with things that are happening in their home counties or their home town,” Hyde explained. “The main things that they help with are the public workshops that we offer throughout the food preservation season.”
As the program has built up its volunteer base, Master Food Preservers have increased their presence at county fairs in the Central Oregon area, Hyde said.
“They are there to answer questions about the (food) exhibits, how to do some of those things,” she continued, “and what we are most interested in is doing education, so that people can and preserve food safely.”
Because of the emphasis on safety, prospective Master Food Preservers should join the class with some basic experience in the practice — but they don’t have to be an expert.
“A lot of people are terrified of pressure canning, and that’s OK — we’ll get you through that,” Hyde remarked.
At the same time, class members should approach the course with a willingness to modify their techniques if necessary.
“We want to make sure they are using up-to-date, tested recipes from reliable sources,” Hyde explained.
If people use the wrong techniques or recipes, they risk the food growing mold or worse yet, developing deadly botulism toxins.
The Master Food Preserver program requires 48 hours of volunteer time to match their 48 hours of total class time. If they intend to continue the program into subsequent years, Hyde said they need to recertify.
“We have food safety updates, and a recertification test that is pretty extensive,” she said.
Despite the demands of the program, Hyde has found that the people who participate enthusiastically enjoy the camaraderie and the work that they do.
“They have a really good time,” she said. “They bond over food. What could be better?”