Canning SalsaCanning homemade salsa and drying fresh apple slices are just a couple of the food preservation techniques Kentucky residents learn from the Kentucky Nutrition Education Program’s three-day food preservation workshops. In 24 counties across the state, experienced food preservationists are targeting limited resource populations with a SNAP-Ed funded program, teaching how to preserve fresh ingredients using new food safety recommendations. The information is new for a lot of folks who are continuing traditions of food preservation with recipes passed down from family members.

“I learned that my grandmother’s old fashioned way of canning isn’t the right way and I learned new, safe methods,” said Doris Bartleson, workshop participant. “My husband gardens and I came to the workshop to learn some new stuff to prepare. I love cooking and working as a team with my husband to preserve food.”

Another husband and wife who enjoy gardening and food preservation recently attended a workshop and shared how this activity brings value to their family. “My husband enjoys canning whole tomatoes and salsa,” said Sue Ross, workshop participant. “Canning is his hobby. It benefits our entire family, because we invite them to stop by anytime to pick up homegrown and canned produce from our house.”

While Sue’s husband Tom Ross has enjoyed canning for a while, he also learned new preservation skills from the workshop. “I’ve never tried drying to preserve food and plan to start drying tomatoes at home to use in a lot of dishes,” said Tom Ross. He is not the only one learning something new. Workshop participants range from experienced to novice food preservationists.

“I currently freeze to preserve foods and I attended the workshop to learn how to can,” said Maureen Loar, workshop participant. “I can’t use my left arm, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to can. I learned how to use the boiling water method and it is easy for me to do.”

Maureen and several others have expressed a desire to continue using the recipes and techniques they learned at home, and health was a key reason for applying their new skills. “You know what goes in your food when you do your own preservation and you can make sure it is healthy,” said Maureen Loar. A lot of canned foods are high in sodium and that was a concern from some participants like Cynthia Griffith, workshop participant, who told us, “I learned that you don’t have to put salt in your green beans, which is great because I like to eat heart healthy foods.”
In addition to canning green beans, participants learned how to safely preserve homemade jam and a variety of fruits and vegetables, using the safest methods in this hands-on workshop. All participants receive a booklet with food preservation recipes, UK publications and information on food safety to encourage them to continue using safe methods at home. “I’ll start using the recipes from this food preservation workshop, because I trust that they will come out accurately and will be safe for my family to eat,” said Anna Gomez, workshop participant.