OSU food preservation volunteers

Master Food Preserver Michele Pryse teaches food preservation techniques in the Medford, OR area. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
Master Food Preserver Michele Pryse teaches food preservation techniques in the Medford, OR area. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
Preserved foods wtih price comparison labels used in OSU Extension food preservation classes. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.
Preserved foods wtih price comparison labels used in OSU Extension food preservation classes. Photo by Lynn Ketchum.

In 2009, about 350 new and veteran Family Food Education volunteers spent 23,100 hours educating the public about safe food handling and preservation. They made more than 28,900 contacts with the public at workshops, exhibits, farmers markets, and county fairs. More than 5,500 of those were callers who received assistance from Oregon State University Extension Service's statewide food safety hotline.

Passing on the food preservation tradition

Michele Pryse of Central Point spends about 150 hours a year teaching food preservation and safety skills in part so she can pass traditional knowledge on to people who are seeking it. “Not everyone has a grandmother or an aunt who can teach them these things anymore,” she said.

She goes all out when she teaches, too, like on the 100-degree September day when she appeared on local television to talk about how to use pears and apples. For her props, Pryse baked a pie and crisps, made applesauce, displayed dehydrated samples, and arranged baskets of apples and pears.

“I wanted to show people back-to-the-basics things you can do with the humble apple and pear, and how good those things taste,” said Pryse.

It’s not the only time Pryse has appeared on local television. She’s appeared in several programs on gardening demonstrating how to store fresh produce and stretch a food budget.

On television and in the classroom, Pryse teaches harvesting, canning, and how to make jams, pickles, and soups from fresh, local ingredients. To demonstrate cost savings, Pryse labels her canned goods with her cost and the price she’d pay if she purchased a similar product at a grocery store. Her fruit leather, for example? At the store, it retails for about $0.89. At home, she estimates a serving costs her about a penny. As an OSU Extension volunteer, Pryse also regularly takes phone calls at home from people who are canning incorrectly, often with improper ingredients or faulty equipment, and risking botulism.
“As Family Food Educators we save lives,” she said. “That’s huge.”

Learn more about OSU Food Preservation »

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