Whether it was the extra time at home because of the pandemic, DIY trends or rising grocery prices, there has been an increase in home food preservation.

The benefits of home food preservation include storing food when you have more produce than you can eat right away and building a reserve of dehydrated and canned food that will stay safe during a power outage.

However, home food preservation is not without risk. According to Andy Hirneisen, senior food safety and quality educator and team leader with Penn State Extension, one of the greatest risks of improper canning is botulism, a potentially deadly illness.

To help prevent improper canning, Penn State Extension is offering two “can-along” webinars. The webinars aim to provide guidance on up-to-date and science-based methods for home food preservation.

The two webinars are scheduled in June and July and will walk participants through the process of making strawberry jam and pressure canning green beans at home.

“Home Food Preservation Can-Along: Strawberry Jam” will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. The webinar will cover the latest canning recommendations based on U.S. Department of Agriculture canning guidelines as well as techniques and tips to ensure a quality jam or jelly. Those interested can register here through May 31.

 The second webinar, “Home Food Preservation Can-Along: Pressure Canning Green Beans,” will occur from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 6. Participants will learn about current USDA canning recommendations and proper safety steps when using a pressure canner. Those interested in this webinar can register here through July 5.

“We’ve learned a lot about the science of canning in recent decades,” Hirneisen said. “Even if you’ve been canning for a long time, it may be worth checking out the webinars to make sure you’re doing everything safely and following today’s research-based guidelines. To my knowledge, we’re the only extension system in the country doing the can-along format.”

The live format of the webinars will let attendees interact with extension experts to learn about the tools and ask questions in real-time. The webinar also allows participants to join from home and learn how the process works using their own tools in their own kitchens.

“An educator essentially will look over the shoulders of participants, helping them along and answering questions,” Hirneisen said.

Penn State Extension is also offering a series of other home food preservation webinars throughout the summer and fall on topics such as pressure canning, atmospheric steam canning and pickling. 

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