- Author: Saoimanu Sope
UC Master Food Preservers give live canning demonstrations at Orange County Fair
If you visited the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa during the past month, you might have seen the Master Food Preservers of Orange County in their rustic farmhouse-themed kitchen located in the OC Promenade exhibit hall.
If the decor did not catch your eye, the colorful rows of glass jars lined along the walls certainly would have. For an entire month, three volunteers conducted live canning demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. five days a week. They are with the UC Master Food Preserver Program, a public service and outreach program under UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The OC Fair is UC Master Food Preserver's largest event in Orange County. Last year, the UC Master Food Preservers engaged 7,000 people at their booth.
Food preservation has a deep history rooted in human survival. Whether freezing, drying, fermenting or pickling, preservation is a practice that has prolonged the life of food and humans. Other benefits include reducing food waste and increasing food security.
The latest form of preservation, called canning, was introduced in the early 1800s according to a Smithsonian article. By placing food in a glass jar and heating it to a certain temperature for a prescribed period of time, oxygen is removed and a vacuum is created. This process prevents the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeasts and molds, thus keeping the food from spoiling.
This is what you would have found the UC Master Food Preservers demonstrating at the OC Fair.
During her shift, Flo Vallejo, UC Master Food Preserver since 2018, carefully chopped carrots and daikon into thin slices and placed them inside small mason jars with spices inspired by Vietnamese cuisine.
“This is something my great-grandmother, grandmother and mother did. I never understood it because they didn't let the little kids in the kitchen,” said first-year UC Master Food Preserver Alice Houseworth.
Many of the UC Master Food Preservers have some experience with canning, whether it be a practice passed down from generation to generation, or, in Houseworth's case, something they watched their elders do as a child.
Esa Kiefer, another UC Master Food Preserver since 2018, expressed her concern for the rising prices of food and decline in arable land. “I feel like now is the time to prepare for these changing times,” she said. “Who knows what the future will look like for food?”
Perhaps the future of food will come from glass jars.
“You can even can chicken,” Houseworth said. “When it's cheap at the grocery store, you can buy it and use the pressure canner and then eat it when chicken prices go up.”
Vallejo recalls when pickling and canning were trending on social media during the stay-at-home phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to find mason jars.
“Preservation has been done for a long time. When I saw a lot of people doing it during the pandemic, I thought it was just because people had time on their hands. But I realized that many became concerned about the food supply and accessibility,” she explained.
The resurgence in food preservation interest makes the work of the UC Master Food Preserver program much more essential. Whether you are feeding a large family, living in a food desert or managing a tight budget, food preservation ensures you are fed today, tomorrow and beyond.
To learn more about the Master Food Preserver Program or to locate the nearest program in your area, visit: https://mfp.ucanr.edu/.
- Author: Shannon A Klisch
- Author: Debbie George, Master Food Preserver Volunteer
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Looking for gift ideas that don't cost much? University of California Master Food Preservers, a program of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, will host online workshops showing how to safely make hot holiday beverages, infused vinegar, spiced nuts, meat rubs, cookie mix in a jar and more. Participants may make their own creations as they watch the demonstrations.
“You can create inexpensive gifts that are made with love for friends and family,” said Wendi Weston, coordinator of the UC Master Food Preservers of Sacramento County.
Gifts from the Kitchen Virtual Workshop will be held 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17. This workshop is hosted by the UC Master Food Preservers of Sacramento County, but they welcome participants from outside the county as well. Register at https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Events/?calitem=499948&g=72758.
“Participants will learn to make flavored tea and the barbecue spice rub during the workshop. It'll be fun and festive,” said Weston, who is planning the series of workshops.
During the two-hour Zoom workshop, the UC Master Food Preserver volunteers will demonstrate how to make cranberry conserve, spiced nuts, infused vinegar and holiday cookies in a jar. They will also share decorating and food safety tips.
After the workshop, the recipe books can be purchased for $10 at https://sacmfp.ucanr.edu. Recipes from past workshops can be downloaded for free at https://sacmfp.ucanr.edu/Monthly_Demonstrations/Recipes.
On Dec. 1, UC Master Food Preserver volunteers of Amador and Calaveras counties will discuss freezing, dehydrating, canning and food safety during an online workshop. Register at https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Events/?calitem=516566.
“We can reduce food waste and save money by preserving food,” said Sue Mosbacher, UC Master Food Preserver Program coordinator.
The UC Master Food Preserver Program extends UC research-based information about home food safety and preservation to the public throughout the year. They are located in 19 counties of California, most recently adding UC Master Food Preserver volunteers in Modoc County, where they are offering pressure canner testing.
For 2022, the UC Master Food Preservers of Sacramento County are planning to offer the following workshops via Zoom:
- Jan 19 – Citrus for Super Bowl
- Feb 16 – Dehydration for Soups
- March 16 – Soups & Roots
- April 20 – “Night of Fermenting” Cheese/Yogurt/Sauerkraut
- May 18 – Jams & Jellies
- June 15 – “Ready for BBQ Season” Condiments & Beverages
- July 20 - Red, White & Blue
- Aug 17 – “Tomato Mania” Salsas, Sauces & Peppers
- Sep 21 – Sausages & Mustards
- Oct 19 – “Apples, Pears & Persimmons Oh My”
- Nov 16 – Sides Dishes for your Holiday Dinner
- Dec 21 – Quick Gifts
To sign up for any of the workshops above, visit https://sacmfp.ucanr.edu.
To find other upcoming UC Master Food Preserver Program events, visit https://mfp.ucanr.edu/Events.
For resources for preserving food and more information about the UC Master Food Preserver Program, visit https://mfp.ucanr.edu.
- Author: Christine Davidson
During the COVID-19 pandemic, families were becoming more food insecure than ever before and with stay at home orders, shopping for food and other items was becoming limited. It was also a time where more families were interested in growing and preserving their own food to help combat the uncertainly of the pandemic.
To help families become more resourceful and self-sufficient, EFNEP partnered with UCCE's Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver programs to provide extended education on food safety, food resource management and healthy eating habits. EFNEP provided a series of lessons via Zoom using the Eating Smart Being active curricula through UCCE Connects to You. Throughout the series, educators promoted the upcoming MFP and MG workshops and how the participant's would benefit from continuing to learn. The EFNEP series was followed by virtual MFP and MG workshops which turned into monthly classes. The food preservation topics included refrigerator pickling, jam making, apple pie filling, dehydrating, freezing vegetables, fermentation, and making fruit leather. During the workshops food safety concepts from EFNEP were reinforced and participants received detailed information on the process, a live demonstration, the recipe and handouts. The gardening topics included sustainable landscape and composting, growing strawberries, peas, blueberries, herbs, tomatoes and peppers, and container gardens. At the end of each workshop volunteers were available to answer questions. Both programs reinforced food resource management and food security by sharing how to use items at home to grow and preserve food.
The three programs plan to continue serving families and expanding reach. We will continue to provide monthly gardening and food preservation workshops for EFNEP participants in Spanish and English. The programs have received grant funding through The UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program to extend the program to include kits for each workshop. The participants will receive a kit to participate during the virtual or in person workshop. Receiving a hands on experience will help to increase self-efficacy. The Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver programs are now reaching under severed groups they had not be able to reach previously by delivering workshops in both English and Spanish to low-income families participating in EFNEP. Momentum was gained over a 9 months and participation increased by over 25%. One participant shared “MFP has taught us a variety of methods to preserve our foods. When the berries are on sale at the store, I make a big purchase and preserve them, by using the ‘freezing method'.” Another participant shared her experiences with all three programs saying “We've learned how to make changes that have helped us save money and my daughters make parfaits and smoothies in the morning, which makes me feel proud that they are making healthier choices. We planted a tomato tree with the hopes that it will help me save money and eat healthier. I make my own compost as well now. I don't throw away too much trash and hopefully the environment slowly becomes a better place.”
- Author: Wendy Powers
The short week is off to a great start, weather aside! I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day holiday and took time to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedom. Take a look at this short video to learn how Michelle Hammer-Coffer reflects on Memorial Day. Thank you, Michelle, for your service and efforts to keep us all safe!
Big Dig Day is this Friday! It's time to show your support for UC ANR. We are so fortunate to have made it through this last year and UC ANR has much to be proud of and thankful for. I haven't heard if there will be matching opportunities, so I am unsure how early I need to set the alarm, but no doubt I will be showing my gratitude.
There's good news in Orange County! Thanks to the generous support of the Orange County Farm Bureau and the Orange County 4-H Council, he Forever 4-H Orange County Endowment will be established. Congratulations to the Orange County UCCE team!
Master Food Preserver received a plug in the Washington Post. Congratulations to both Sue and Erin who were quoted. And a huge ‘thank you' to reporter Becky Crystal for calling out the program!
The big news is that the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees released on Tuesday a joint plan to be negotiated with the Governor that provides a $32.1 million ongoing increase to UC ANR. This conversation isn't over, but we are far closer to a meaningful increase that I have seen in my time at UC ANR!
My garage has heated up considerably over the last week, but I hear my key FOB will work in the Davis building in just a month. I hope the good news keeps coming!