Preserving the harvest safely
Juneau agent Sarah Lewis teamed up with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium last year to teach workshops on food preservation and developing small foods businesses in more than a dozen Southeast communities.
Working with community contacts, Lewis offered classes based on local interest in everything from canning fish and making sauerkraut to knowing what to do when your freezer conks out. While visiting communities from Hydaburg and Ketchikan to Skagway and Klukwan, she also checked the accuracy of pressure canner gauges.
Food preservation work remains a staple for Lewis and for other agents. “They’re definitely my most requested and most attended classes,” she said.
Lewis said some people simply want to save money by filling their freezers and pantries. Others want to know where their food came from and what’s in it.
Local foods enthusiast Charles Bingham attended Lewis’ canning salmon and canning soup classes in Sitka. Although his parents had taken Extension classes in Anchorage and canned their own food, he hadn’t tried it on his own.
“Taking the classes was a good way for me to learn the basics and give me the confidence to do my own canning this year,” he said.
Agents can’t offer workshops in every Alaska community, but they provide guidance on the phone, by email and through many hands-on classes. During 2015, agents showed more than 1,300 Alaskans how to do everything from making jams, jellies and mozzarella to canning fish and game meat and making pickles.
Extension resources include its Preserving Alaska’s Bounty DVD how-to series.
- Alaskans with food preservation questions may call district offices or the toll-free number at 877-520-5211.
- Agents tested more than 800 pressure canner gauges, demonstrating how to make adjustments when necessary or recommending replacement.
- More than 50 food preservation publications may be downloaded for free from Extension’s website or ordered for a nominal cost. Search online for topics or the catalog at http://cespubs.uaf.edu.