If you are wondering what to do with all those summer tomatoes, green beans and squash, worry no more — the Pettis County University of Missouri Extension is partnering with Simple Blessings Farm in Knob Noster to offer a food preservation series.
Megan Webb, the extension’s nutrition and health education specialist, said they will present “Quality for Keeps,” three classes on freezing and dehydrating, salsa and tomatoes and jams and jellies. The sessions will be hosted at Simple Blessings Farm.
“We’ve done it before, but we did not do it last year,” Webb said. “I’ve done it in other counties as well. It is a University program, it is the same delivered many places across the state.”
When the class was presented locally last time it was hosted at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, but with the recent addition of an event center with a kitchen at Simple Blessings Farm it became the perfect spot for the series.
Webb said Simple Blessings Farm is a project by Rachel Jones, and added that Jones has two programs at the farm, the event barn and also farm memberships for families wish to grow their own food.
“They have just built this event barn that is for use for public events,” Webb said. “For rental for weddings, birthday parties, receptions, those types of things. Then the other half of their business is the farm aspect. It’s a really neat partnership that she’s allowing us to come out and do a class there. Their new event barn has a nice kitchen in it so they are allowing us to use that kitchen for this program.”
Webb added that the classes are open to anyone who is interested.
“We’d love to get some community members out, both to come take the class and also to learn about Simple Blessings Farm as well,” she said.
Webb will bring the produce and all the participants need do is bring themselves.
Webb cited the benefits of food preservation.
“You have control over what you are putting in the product,” she said. “So if you want to avoid certain ingredients or salt or pesticides you have control. If you are growing your own produce at home, it’s a way to save that throughout the year. And the reason to come to the class is to learn the safe, proven methods for home food preservation.”
Webb will provide hands-on demonstrations dealing with food preservation safety and the methods for achieving high quality results. Freezing and dehydrating is the first session.
“It’s usually the gateway into food preservation,” Webb said. “It’s a little bit easier and a little bit less intimidating and a lot safer. However you have to have the freezer space. But there is a procedure to help things last longer, to help the quality to be a little bit better.”
She emphasized that dehydrating can be done with a dehydrator or an oven — you don’t have to have special equipment.
She said the next session — salsa and tomatoes — is a “hot” topic.
‘Everybody likes to make their own salsa,” she said. “There are some safety concerns with canning. Especially with the low acid things like tomatoes. To prevent illness basically you have to follow specific procedure. So we spend a lot of time talking about food safety and preservation.”
Webb said the last session with jams and jellies also requires a hot-water bath and special safety precautions for preservation.
“That’s something that people like to do on their own,” she added. “So for one, they know what they are putting in their jams and jellies. So they have control over whether there’s preservatives used and that type of thing. And also they are a fun trendy gift — a homemade product.”
Finished products from all sessions will go home with the participants, Webb added.
“But if I have 20 people in the class and we only have 10 jars, I usually draw names,” she said smiling.
She added that usually the classes range in size from four to 18 people.
Classes will run on Tuesdays; Freezing and Hydrating from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19; Salsa and Tomatoes from 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 26; and Jams and Jellies from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 9. All classes are at Simple Blessings Farm, located at 280 NE state Route FF in Knob Noster. The cost is $20 per single class or $50 for all three sessions. Some scholarships are available.
For more information on Simple Blessings Farm visit their website at simpleblessingsfarm.com. For more information about the Pettis County University of Missouri Extension call 827-0591.