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NMSU Cooperative Extension Service aiming to revive master food preserver program

After a 10-year absence, extension agents with New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service are reviving a program aimed at helping people become master food preservers.



Students participate in a canning class offered in Bernalillo County. The New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service has revived its master food preservation program statewide. (Courtesy photo)

Students participate in a canning class offered in Bernalillo County as part of NMSU?s Cooperative Extension Service master food preservation program. Extension officials have revived the program, which will begin in February. (Courtesy photo)

Cindy Schlenker Davies, county program director with the Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service, said the master food preservation program was once a strong program but it has not been around since 2006. Recently, New Mexico county home economists met in Las Cruces for three days of training, and participants wrapped up their training in Albuquerque.

The program will be offered in Albuquerque Wednesday, Feb. 3; Feb. 10, 18 and 25; and March 2 and 9. The program will be offered in other counties as well.

?A committee of interested educators met to hash out the details of implementing the master food preserver programs in the counties, and now we are ready to start offering the classes,? said Davies.

Interest in food preservation is popular among New Mexico residents. Davies said she had more than 1,500 participate in her food preservation classes over the past nine years. Each summer, she has hosted two series of classes, which discussed topics such as water bath canning, jams and jellies, pickles, salsa, fruit and tomatoes, pressure canning vegetables, and freezing and drying. Each class is $20, and students can take home some of the foods they?ve preserved.

Nancy Flores, an extension food technology specialist at NMSU?s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, said the courses are important because many consumers are receiving information online for food preservation methods that may not be safe.

Extension agents ?are the best source for methods for canning, dehydration and freezing that could be used for home preparation,? Flores said. ?We reviewed methods and did hands-on processing of pressure canning of green beans and green chile, and waterbath canning of salsa, diced tomatoes, jams and jelly. Additionally, we dried beef jerky, pineapple, strawberry leather, bananas and green beans, and froze strawberries.?

For more information on food preservation classes and Bernalillo County?s master gardener and master composter programs, visit http://bernalilloextension.nmsu.edu/.