Class teaches lo­cal gar­den­ers how to pre­serve pro­duce safely

The Tribune (SLO) - - NEIGHBOR - By Sarah Arana

Q: My grand­mother used to can ev­ery­thing, but I never paid at­ten­tion. Now I want to can some of the pro­duce from my gar­den. Where do I start? — Jane S., Paso Robles

A: Gar­dens over­flow­ing with toma­toes, cu­cum­bers, and pep­pers.

Back­yard or­chards brim­ming with juicy peaches, fra­grant cit­rus, and deep purple plums. All that pro­duce can seem over­whelm­ing, es­pe­cially if you can’t eat it fast enough be­fore it spoils.

Learn­ing how to pre­serve your bounty will en­able you to avoid un­nec­es­sary waste and en­joy these foods all year.

Peo­ple have been pre­serv­ing food for cen­turies. Early tech­niques in­cluded dry­ing, smok­ing, fer­men­ta­tion and pack­ing in fat — a method we know these days as con­fit. Later came vine­gar pickles, jams sealed with wax or more fat, and foods sus­pended in al­co­hol.

Still, none of these ap­proaches led to re­li­ably pre­served foods.

There was al­ways some risk of spoilage or harm­ful bac­te­ria de­vel­op­ing and ru­in­ing the food and pos­si­bly mak­ing you sick. Once pro­duce is sep­a­rated from plants, it’s per­ish­able with a very short win­dow of fresh­ness.

Un­less fruits and veg­eta­bles are pre­served in some way, bac­te­ria, molds and yeasts — as well as phys­i­cal dam­age such

as bruis­ing, punc­tures, wa­ter loss or chem­i­cal changes caused by en­zymes — cause them to spoil.

Proper can­ning can pre­vent spoilage and pre­serve your har­vest for this win­ter’s ta­ble.

There are two types of home can­ning: boil­ing wa­ter can­ning and pres­sure can­ning. The types of food canned us­ing boil­ing wa­ter can­ning, are high-acid foods such as fruit and pickles.

Low-acid foods such as veg­eta­bles, meat and seafood re­quire pres­sure can­ning. It’s imperative to use the right method for the prod­uct you are can­ning.

To en­sure the safety of food you want to pre­serve, it’s highly rec­om­mended that you learn the proper tech­niques fol­low­ing ap­proved food safety guidelines.

One way to do that lo­cally is to take a class of­fered by the UCCE Mas­ter Food Pre­servers of San Luis Obispo and Santa Bar­bara coun­ties.

At “Sav­ing the Sea­sons: In­tro­duc­tion to Can­ning” on Satur­day, April 27 in San Luis Obispo, you can learn how to “save the sea­sons” by can­ning fruits and veg­eta­bles from your own har­vest or pur­chased from a farm­ers’ mar­ket.

You’ll learn about boil­ing wa­ter can­ning, at­mo­spheric steam can­ning and pres­sure can­ning.

‘SAV­ING THE SEA­SONS: IN­TRO­DUC­TION TO CAN­NING’ 10 a.m. to noon, Satur­day, April 27 UCCE Au­di­to­rium, 2156 Sierra Way, SLO Cost: $10 De­tails: www.ucanr.edu/sav­ingth­e­sea­sons

JAC­QUE­LINE SHUBITOWSKI

Boil­ing wa­ter can­ning is used to pre­serve high-acid foods such as fruit and pickles.

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