Food preservation, such as canning, offers a healthy and cost-effective alternative to buying pre-packaged foods.

The Oregon State University Extension Office is offering food preservation certification through the OSU Family Food Educator Volunteer Program; the 40-hour training course will teach a variety of food preservation techniques.

Claudia Tosh, who will collect applications for the program, said participants will start with a class on preserving basics, then move on to classes like meat smoking and cheese making. All classes will be taught by Patty Case, a member of the extension office’s family and community health faculty.

“They’re pretty much full-day classes,” Tosh said.

The eight classes will be on Thursdays and Saturdays starting May 16 and will continue through June 20. Classes are six hours long, and participants must attend each class to qualify to be a Master Food Preserver.

The purpose of the class is not only to teach preservation techniques and food safety, but also to pass on teaching skills.

The training program includes a 40-hour volunteer requirement to “pay back” the extension office by helping at other community workshops and events.

    It’s important to the community because they will be teaching others, Tosh said.

    Participants will have a year to complete the volunteer time.

    Anyone who is interested in food and food preservation, is willing to learn and able to commit the required time can apply for the class. No previous food preservation experience is required. Participants also will have to pass an open-book state certification exam.

    In addition to the community service aspect, the food preservation classes also benefit the community because it helps people learn how to extend the life of food, which saves money, Tosh said. It also cuts down on consumption of the chemicals found in store-bought foods.

    “It’s a savings, of course, to always do food preservation,” Tosh said.

    All classes will offer participants a chance to apply what they have learned with food labs and hand-on activities.