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Food movements revive the art of preservation

Celebrations of Memorial Day this week called to mind a few food-related notions for me. Barbeques and potlucks reminded me of the importance of food safety — keeping hot foods hot, cold foods cold, and the importance of hand hygiene.

Classes available

June 3, Cheese Making, 1-4 p.m., Zion Lutheran Church, The Dalles

June 4, Cheese Making, 6-9 p.m., Extension offices, Hood River

June 17, Oils, Vinegars and Extracts, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

June 18, Oils, Vinegars and Extracts, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

July 8, Drying, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

July 9, Drying, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

July 22, Jams and Jellies, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

July 23, Jams and Jellies, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Aug. 5, Pickling and Fermenting, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Aug. 6, Pickling and Fermenting, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Aug. 19, Pressure Canning, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Aug. 20, Pressure Canning, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Aug. 26, Tasty Tomato Products, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Aug. 27, Tasty Tomato Products, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Sept. 9, Freezing, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Sept. 10, Freezing, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Sept. 23, Spices and Herbs, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Sept. 24, Spices and Herbs, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Oct. 14, Pressure Cooking, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Oct. 15, Pressure Cooking, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

Nov. 11, Holiday Gifts, 1-4 p.m., Zion, The Dalles

Nov. 12, Holiday Gifts, 6-9 p.m., Extension, Hood River

My 20-pound box of asparagus, purchased at the Gorge Grown Food Network Thursday Farmer’s Market, got me into the pickling mood and was the first batch of anything I’ve put up this year. And the OSU Extension Food Preservation Facebook page had images of the 1940’s war effort messages encouraging families to garden and preserve their own food as a way to address rationing and make sure enough food was going overseas to the boys at war. A couple are pictured here.

In the first half of the 1900’s, almost every household had expert canners and canning equipment. If you didn’t, chances are good you wouldn’t have enough to eat over the winter or you’d have to rely on the grocery store stocking what you needed. With the introduction of the microwave, fast food, and other food technology — canning seemed to be on its way out. While canning and food preserving are a lost art in many families, the resurgence of home gardening and eat local movements have revived an interest in preserving extra produce.

The Extension Service has participated in food preservation for most of its 100-plus year history. In keeping with this strong tradition, we are offering 22 different food preservation classes this year as well as pressure cooking (and canning) and classes on other culinary arts like making your own flavored vinegars and extracts, homemade soft cheeses, and uses for herbs, spices, and other exotic seasonings. If your canning equipment or skills date back to the early 1900’s, you’d be wise to check out our classes to update your skills, learn new methods, and be sure you are using the latest recipes with modern processing times.

If you plan to use your pressure canner this year, please be sure to come visit us at the Extension Office to get your dial gauge tested to ensure you are processing at the proper weight. It’s a free service that can save you lost labor and the grief of throwing out improperly processed food.

Getting your gauge checked annually is a critical safety measure that can also help prevent food borne illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 1 in 6 people will get a food borne illness each year and food borne illnesses result in over 3,000 deaths annually. Learning to process, prepare, and preserve food safely will reduce your risk of food borne illness.

To schedule a time to test your gauge, call 541-296-5494 for The Dalles or 541-386-3343 est. 258 for Hood River.

To register for a food preservation class (pre-registration is required), call or email Lauren Kraemer:Lauren.Kraemer@oregonstate.edu or 541-386-3343 x 258. Next up on our a la carte class list is Cheesemaking, followed by Oils, Vinegars, and Extracts. I hope to see you there!

If you have a burning food preservation or safety question this summer, try our hotline at 1-800-354-7319 from July 14—Oct. 17, Monday – Friday (except holidays), 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Here is another Extension link with some more great resources, including food preservation recipes, methods, and links to classes and gauge testing in counties around the state:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/food-preservation

Cheers to a bountiful and safe food preservation season!

Lauren Kraemer, MPH, is the Oregon State University/Wasco and Hood River County Extension family and community health faculty.

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