The New Leaf Market Co-op hosted a seminar for Tallahassee residents interested in food preservation and effective ways to preserve foods.
Heidi Copeland, Leon County Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent 1, hosted the workshop and informed guests of various methods food can be preserved such as water bath canning and pressure canning.
Canning is the process of preserving foods for stable, room temperature shelf storage. Many items can be stored for 18 months or longer, and save tons of money.
“Many people don’t realize that they are doing food preservation when they do simple things like freeze or even dry food,” Copeland said.
Although canning is not popular in today’s society, it remains a very effective method to avoid common foods from drying out or even rotting.
Quick tips mentioned in the seminar such as “blanching” vegetables before freezing them, or in other words boiling the vegetables first and allowing them to cool in cold water gives the vegetables a more tender taste one put in the freezer.
Water bath canning is for foods that contain large amounts of acids. For example, pickles, strawberries, kiwis, jams, marmalades and pineapples can be preserved. Water bath canning involves using a large cooking pot with a rack and a lid and adding the cans filled with acid-filled foods in them.
Copeland urges individuals to use the correct types of jars when canning, and that improper jars- spaghetti jars, mayonnaise jars or regular mason jars- will not preserve the food efficiently.
“Canning jars are specially made so that they are a certain thickness, and so that they can withstand a lot more wear and tear,” Copeland said.
Pressure canning is for foods with low acid such as meats, seafood, poultry, milk and fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes. Special equipment is needed for pressure canning and can be purchased at local supermarkets in town.
The pressure canners are specifically made to prevent steam from escaping, and the lid is fitted with a vent, a dial or a weighted pressure gauge and a safety fuse.
“A lot of the research for food preservation was done in the 40’s and is still being used today,” she said.
Michael Rutherford, a Tallahassee native, found the seminar informative and reminded him of his childhood as well.
“You know what’s funny my grandmother used to can food all the time, and it really made a difference during difficult times,” Rutherford said.
Guests also received a five percent off coupon on any purchase if they attended the seminar, which can be used at the New Leaf Co-op located on Apalachee Parkway.
Sandy Smith, a Tallahassee native, enjoyed the seminar and says that she may use many of the methods she has learned from the seminar at home in her spare time.
“I grow my own vegetables at home, and I will definitely start using the canning method myself,” Smith said.
For more information, visit http://nchfp.uga.edu/ for USDA safety guidelines for food canning and tips on how to get started.