March is National Nutrition Month and a great opportunity to take a step back and think about the healthy habits we have, and the ones we’re still working on. One healthy habit is preparing your own food.
Through Kitchen Garden Cooking School at Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB), people learn how to grow, harvest and prepare their own food. In 2018 TAFB launched a Food Preservation Series through the cooking school to teach the ins and outs of canning fresh produce. Longtime TAFB volunteer Teresa Day-Fickel played a key role in getting the class started.
“I grow my produce, and I can it, and I put it in pretty jars and give it as gifts at Christmas to only the people that I really, really care about,” said Teresa. “So if you get a gift of jarred food from me you know that I really like you.”
As a Texas Master Gardener specialized in vegetable gardening, Teresa has a lot of experience preserving her own fresh food. She used her expertise to develop the lesson plans and curriculum. Guidelines were established through the Department of Agriculture and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, canned foods can be just as nutritious as fresh and frozen foods because canning preserves many nutrients. Canning your own fresh food can also help you save money. You can get the best prices on fresh fruits and vegetables when they’re in season and preserve them for later.
A Fresh Take
On Saturday, Feb. 9, Teresa led a Food Preservation Series class called “Selecting, Preparing and Canning Fruit and Fruit Products.”
Becca Knutson, TAFB community garden coordinator, welcomed the group and introduced Teresa to the class members. Teresa taught the class how to prepare canned apple pie filling and canned pineapple in light syrup.
Prior to taking the workshop, each participant had already taken “The Principles of Canning.” During that class they learned all about proper canning equipment and methods needed to safely preserve fresh food.
During the fruit canning class, Teresa shared step-by-step instructions on how to make canned apple pie filling. Each class member participated in preparing the recipes in the TAFB Demonstration Kitchen.
After the class Teresa shared that she would like for the class members to walk away with confidence in their ability to preserve food at home that is safe for their family. She also encouraged them to pass their knowledge to other people.
If you are interested in taking our next canning classes, sign up for our Recipes, Cooking Tips and Gardening Tips email list. Each month we share healthy recipes and information on upcoming workshops. The next Food Preservation Series will take place in August. These workshops are provided through TAFB’s Nutrition Services. Learn more about our programs.
By Alicia Allen Smith
Volunteer Blogger, Tarrant Area Food Bank