Oregon State University Extension Service Assistant Professor of Practice Lauren Kraemer is offering a la carte food preservation classes again this year, but with a twist: Instead of weekly meetings through the summer and early fall, the hands-on sessions will be held once a month from June through December.

“Depending on how this year goes, we may continue the monthly classes,” Kraemer said. “We’re trying to respond to community interest.”

Kraemer has revised classes she hasn’t presented in four or five years, and added new ones, such as “Canning Salmon: Catch to Canned” on Sept. 19, and “Oktoberfest: Sausage, Sauerkraut and Mustard” on Oct. 12.

“People are excited for Oktoberfest,” she said. “It’s a different take on the theme. That was a suggestion from some of the Master Food Preservers.”

A few classes are returning — “Food, Water and Waste Preparedness for Emergencies” was popular last year and kicks off the season this year (more information below) — and a few are on hiatus, such a cheese-making. Also on hiatus are the Master Food Preserver courses previously taught in tandem with the a la carte classes due to limited interest. A cohort of trained Master Food Preservers will be recertified and continue to help in classes and the community, she said, with the certification program resuming April 2019.

Kraemer decided to make the change to monthly lessons for a variety of reasons, including two small ones — her children.

Preregistration is required at bit.ly/2018FoodPreservationClasses

“I was feeling pretty burned out last summer and fall,” she said, noting she taught in both Hood River and The Dalles. “There’s a lot of preparation, and it keeps me really hopping all through summer. With two little people at home … I gave myself permission to schedule it differently this year.”

Another was the results of an email survey she sent out last year.

“The responses indicated to me that summer is often not the best time to take classes because of (attendees’) own schedules,” she said. “It was another good reason to try going into later fall and winter, to try some other seasonal things.”

It’s also a way to introduce new lessons into the curriculum, as she has some students who have taken every class she’s offered, as well as reach those who haven’t found anything on the class list that’s been of personal interest.

Kraemer said she’s looking forward to the new schedule and showing others how to preserve the bounty of the Gorge, with “fresh samples” (canned and dried) prepared by herself and Master Food Preservers.

“It’s cool to show folks all the things you can do with our range of fruits, what we can get locally,” she said. “It’s such amazing quality and with better prices when things are in season. People need to understand how to take advantage of that.”

All classes are held from 6-9 p.m. at the FISH Food Bank, 1130 Tucker Road, Hood River. For a list of classes, see Happenings, or visit extension.oregonstate.edu/hoodriver/food-preservation-class-schedule. Each class is also held in The Dalles.

Cost of each class is now $20, up from last year due to county budget issues and increased food costs. Prices had stayed the same the previous eight years; some scholarships are available.

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A preparedness class will start the monthly sessions on Wednesday, June 6. It’s a class Kraemer plans to keep on the schedule for at least the next couple of years.

“It feels like a critical topic as our region continues to remind us we need to be prepared for fires, oil train derailments, ice storms and the ever-present Cascadia earthquake threat,” she said.

The class will show participants how to purify and save water, how to have enough water stored for a family, and what storage might look like, as well as how to extend the shelf life of food using an oxygen absorber in a mylar bag, which eliminates pantry pests and spoilage issues. Waste storage will also be covered.

“A hit last year was we sent everyone home with a Home Depot bucket and a pool noodle to make an emergency potty,” Kraemer said.

“Disaster prep can be hard for people to wrap their minds around because it could happen tomorrow or happen never,” she added. “It’s tricky to plan for. Every time I teach the class, I learn something new and do something further to make myself prepared.

“I hope that’s the case for people who attend,” she said. “We give them skills and physical equipment they can put to use for their own kit. There’s a sense of accomplishment — ‘Okay, I can do this, I’m one step closer to being prepared.’”

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