URI to offer food preservation workshop as popularity of home canning increases, May 15 and 22

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KINGSTON, R.I. – April 2, 2012 – The growing popularity of vegetable gardening and buying locally grown produce has sparked an increase in home canning and other food preservation efforts. To ensure that residents know how to properly preserve produce without causing food-borne illnesses, experts from the University of Rhode Island’s Food Safety Education Program will present a two-day hands-on workshop on May 15 and 22 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

“Some home food preservation techniques are more difficult than others, so it is important to know how to preserve food safely,” said Nicole Richard, a food safety specialist who is organizing the workshop. “Botulism can be a big concern if canning is not done correctly and according to properly tested recipes. Improperly home canned vegetables are the leading cause of botulism cases in the U.S.”

The first day of the workshop will feature a discussion of safe canning methods and a hands-on activity using what Richard calls “hot water bath canning.” The second session will include a review of freezing and drying techniques and an activity demonstrating the use of a pressure canner.

“The hot water method is primarily used for foods with a low pH (high acidity) or, for example, those that have enough citric acid or lemon juice added to the recipe,” Richard said. “Pressure is used to can foods that are low in acid since the pressure canner reaches the very high temperatures (240 oF) required to kill the spores that cause botulism.”

Preregistration for the workshop is required. A $50 workshop fee will cover the cost of materials for the hands-on activities, a light dinner, and a copy of The Ball Blue Book: Guide to Preserving.

For additional information, contact Richard at 401-874-2977 or nicolerichard@uri.edu or visit www.uri.edu/ce/ceec/foodsafety.shtml