Food preservation – freezing, canning, drying, pickling, and such – always seemed a daunting task to me; certainly, too intimidating to take into a classroom of kids. Those food safety fears recently led me straight into a California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom workshop where we learned CFAITC is developing a unit for teachers who want to educate their students on food preservation. The unit is expected to be completed and posted on the foundation’s website by the end of the year.
In the meantime, CFAITC’s Mindy DeRohan and Hayley Lawson led about 25 teachers through the process of pickling red peppers and talked about easy ways to get students to “enjoy foods in a different way.” Refrigerated red peppers have a shelf life of three weeks, Lawson said. Pickling them lets a family enjoy them throughout the season.
The new food preservation unit will also include an herb fact sheet and instructions for drying herbs using a paper bag.
In the meantime, DeRohan and Lawson encouraged teachers to try a couple simple methods of drying foods. Students can put fruit and honey into a blender, then pour the mixture on silicone mats, waxed paper, or parchment paper to dry outside into fruit roll-ups. Lawson suggested covering with cheesecloth to protect from dirt or dust in the air. Students can also set grapes outside to watch them turn into raisins for a simple lesson on how we get our food.