Home food preservation remains an important and popular cultural activity. It is critical that those who practice preserving and processing foods at home have access to the most reliable information available concerning food safety and food quality. The Cooperative Extension System (CES) and USDA have long been recognized as credible sources for science-based recommendations. However, developmental work on new or continued recommendations has been sporadic since the 1950s due to availability of resources and probably interested persons. Two national surveys conducted by the Center in 2000 and 2005 both revealed a high percentage of home food processors are using practices that put them at high risk for foodborne illness and/or economic losses due to food spoilage.
The National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation was established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES-USDA) in 2000 as a multi-institutional effort with The University of Georgia and Alabama A&M University as the primary institutions. Expert scientists in home food preservation from industry and eight other U.S. universities comprised an advisory committee for the Center. Home food preservation recommendations were updated through laboratory development and testing of products and critical literature reviews; recommendations from USDA and the Cooperative Extension System have been made available through this website; a new video series; on online self-study course; revision of the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning (December 2009); updating of Extension professionals in various states; and, various other publications on the website.
The first project ended in 2005, but the Center received additional funding to conduct some additional limited projects through August 2010. Collaborators from 5 states were part of the National Center team for those years, but primarily through 2008. In 2005-2010, work continued on the website-based self-study course modules; applied laboratory research on refrigerator dill pickles and canned tomato-based salsas was conducted; and, an undergraduate college short-course about home food preservation was developed, implemented and evaluated.
The current project, 2011-2015, will be developing, implementing and evaluating a series of six youth lesson plans on home food preservation; developing and teaching webinars on home food preservation; and, building website resources and maintaining the integrity of current website content. In addition, research will be conducted on atmospheric steam canning for acid foods and to compare several home canning lid systems on features of sealing rates and vacuums obtained.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2011-51110-30995.
This work has also been supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreements No. 00-51110-9762 and 2005-51110-03283.