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Preserving the bounty

Volunteers are needed for Central Oregons Master Food Preservers program


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Cheryl Damerell measures headspace for a jar of tomatoes.

The local growing season is soon approaching and green thumbs will eventually consider what to do with their garden harvests.

For those who want to give food preservation a try, the OSU Extension Service is once again offering its Master Food Preservers training program. Not only will participants learn how to master a variety of preservation techniques, they will learn how to teach those skills to others.

When it comes to food preservation, participants learn a variety of skills and techniques that they can utilize with their own garden spoils.

"A lot of them come with just a smattering of food preservation skills," said Glenda Hyde, OSU Extension Senior Instructor. "So we go deeply into each type of food preservation."

Hyde has found that many newcomers are intimidated by pressure canning. They have heard horror stories about the pressure canner exploding and coating their kitchen in vegetables, or know of the botulism dangers canning low-acid foods like meats and vegetables presents.

"So, we spend a good bit of time on food safety," Hyde said.

While the program provides a comprehensive education in food preservation, the core purpose of the Master Food Preservers training is to develop volunteers that help other local gardeners. Once a participant becomes certified, they are asked to spend at least 48 hours helping county residents handle and preserve food safely. Volunteer activities will include conducting workshops, testing pressure canner gauges, and staffing exhibit booths at county fairs or farmers' markets.

"We have a Master Food Preserver who was trained the year before, who has been working at the Crook County Fair, answering questions in the open class food preservation," Hyde said. "The others will mainly be working at Deschutes County and then also helping with or leading public workshops we do throughout canning season."

The intent behind the volunteer side of the program is to help extend the reach of the Extension Service, so they can serve more people. Hyde said she receives several calls a week year-round on food preservation, and the frequency spikes as high as two to four times a day during canning season.

Master Food Preservers are expected to not only answer questions for the public and impart preservation techniques, they must do so using up-to-date, tested methods from reliable resources.

"When they (volunteers) can take over and run a workshop for me, that frees me up to do other things that are being requested," Hyde explained. "By sharing the requests, we meet more need."

The deadline to apply for the OSU Extension Service’s Master Food Preservers training program is March 7. The training costs $50, with sessions scheduled for each Wednesday from April 2 to May 28, at the OSU Deschutes County Extension office at the Fairgrounds in Redmond. To apply, go to http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/food-preservation, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or call 541-548-6088.



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