Kids in the kitchen: Part four

Include kids in the kitchen when preserving food safely.

We have discussed different areas of food preparation in this “Kids in the kitchen” series. Preserving food safely is yet another area that kids can learn to help with. Preserving food is a technique that has changed over time because of science. Often, when food preservation is discussed, people think of the dangers of pressure canning. There are dangers when pressure canning but not everything is preserved in this way. There is water bath canning, dehydrating and freezing as alternative methods of preserving food.

When you begin food preservation with kids, explain to them that methods do change when science sees a need to change. Doing it the way grandma taught you several years ago may not be a safe way to preserve anymore. Michigan State University Extension has Food Safety educators that can provide food preservation education in addition to online resources.

Once again, when working with youth choose a preservation process that you are comfortable with. Consider the skills and age of the youth. Stay within the ability of the youth that is helping and learning from you. Consider the fruit or vegetable that will need to be processed when choosing a preservation method. Vegetables need pressure canning because of the low acid content. Most fruits are water bathed because they generally have high acid content.

When choosing an item to preserve, consider the method you would like to use. Also, choose healthy ripe fruits or vegetables. Consider the equipment that is needed to do the preferred process, and then find a recipe that is science based. A recommended book is “So easy to preserve”. The USDA food preservation website can provide times and recommended methods for various foods as well.

There is a lot of thought, time and skill that goes into food preservation. Kids can help and learn right along with you. Take advantage of the food preservation classes that may be provided in your area. Preserving food can be done all year long. One example would be making a large batch of Chicken soup and then freezing some for later use.

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