Class teaches local gardeners how to preserve produce safely
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
Boiling water canning is used to preserve high-acid foods such as fruit and pickles.