Food preservation, canning workshop set for July 18

Published 4:36 pm Monday, July 8, 2013

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s food preservation and canning workshop July 18 is intended to help people save the foods they grow in the spring and summer months.

Janice Hall, Regional Extension Agent for Food Safety, Preservation and Preparation, will lead the workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Chilton County Extension Office in downtown Clanton.

Hall will discuss safety measures when canning high-acid and low-acid foods, as well as making jams and jellies.

“The reason for the workshops is so that people can become more knowledgeable about the right and the wrong way of canning and mainly to prevent botulism and mold growth in your products,” Hall said. “It’s a lot of hard work to plant, nurture and harvest those fruits and vegetables. If we know ahead of time how to do it the correct way, we can save ourselves a lot of time and money.”

Hall said summer is a busy time for food preservation because people are harvesting fruits and vegetables they planted earlier in the spring.

“Summer is the busiest time of year for canning because people are planting in the early spring, and around June and July, they’re harvesting and canning what they’ve planted,” Hall said. “Our job is to step in and show you some skills and techniques you can use to preserve what you have grown.”

Hall said canning high-acid foods such as fruits and pickles involves a method called water-bath canning, which prevents further growth of bacteria, mold or spoilage.

A water bath can be created using a water bath canner or a pot large enough to allow at least 1–2 inches of water above the lid of a jar.

Hall said water bath canners could be found at Walmart, Fred’s or Dollar General.

Pressure canning is a method used for canning low-acid foods such as vegetables and meats to prevent botulism from growing.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, and sometimes certain strains of it, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Food borne botulism, or botulism that can occur from improperly stored foods, results from eating foods containing the botulinum toxin.

“Botulism can be deadly,” Hall said.

Hall will also provide information on freezing, drying, pickling and fermenting methods of food preservation.

Hall will demonstrate how to properly operate canning equipment, and workshop attendees will be able to sample jam, learn how to make jams and jellies and make a batch of a type of fruit jam to take home with them.

“It will be a lot of fun,” Hall said. “They’ll get to participate and help out. They’ll be doing some of the techniques.”

Those interested in attending the workshop need to register beforehand so Hall will know how many jars of jam to bring.

The registration fee is $8 and also includes a Food Preservation Recipe Packet.

To register, call the Chilton County Extension Office at (205) 280-6268.