Food preservation is as old as human civilization and even pre-dates agriculture. Food by its very nature begins to spoil the moment it is harvested. The primary objective of food preservation is to delay the spoilage of food to allow a wide variety of foods year round. Many of our most common methods of food preservation have been used since the beginning of history and similar techniques can be found across the globe. There are primarily seven major methods of food preservation. They include freezing, drying, canning, jams and jellies, pickling, fermenting, and curing. The quality of the preserved food varies greatly and is primarily dependent on the quality of the fresh food and preservation technique used. High quality preserved foods are free from microbial spoilage and toxins, are pleasing to eat, are eye appealing and are reasonably nutritious.
For more than 30 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Food Preserver (MFP) Program has extended research-based home food preservation information to California residents. The first UCCE MFP Program started in 1982 and since these humble beginnings, programs are now thriving in 16 counties across the state of California.
In January 2015, the San Luis Obispo County UCCE office rolled out its newly formed MFP program. The MFP program is made up of volunteers who received extensive training in food safety and food preservation from UCCE faculty. After passing a qualifying exam, these certified volunteers work as a team with UCCE professionals to teach safe food preservation techniques to the community. The MFP program offers monthly classes on a variety of food preservation techniques. The classes are held on the fourth Saturday of the month from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. To access a list of upcoming classes and to register, please visit their website. Some classes are free and others have a small charge to help cover the cost of the class materials. In addition, the MFP program offers a Food Preservation Helpline every Wednesday from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, so if an individual has a food safety or preservation question, they can call 805-781-1429 and speak to a certified MFP volunteer. Furthermore, when practicing home food preservation, it is important to follow the instructions and use only credible research-based sources to ensure a safe product. Click on the link below to access University of California Cooperative Extension’s website for recommended research-based home food preservation methods and recipes.
Christine Nelson, UCCE Health Education Specialist
Linda McClure, Master Food Preserver