Lost art of preserving fruits and vegetables to be taught in Pharr

“Preserving the Harvest” workshops to be held July 16-17

PHARR  —  Preserving fruits and vegetables, once considered to be an important survival skill for the family and the nation, is making a comeback, according to personnel at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service who will soon offer workshops on the process.

During the Depression, it became even more necessary for women to produce and preserve their own food. (Photo courtesy of TAMU Cushing Memorial Library and Archives)

During the Depression and World War II, it became even more necessary for families to produce and preserve their own food. “Preserving the Harvest,” four workshops on preserving fruits and vegetables, will be held July 16-17 in Pharr.  (Photo courtesy of TAMU Cushing Memorial Library and Archives)

“Before the convenience of refrigeration and during wartime, preserving food was a common practice,” said Barbara Storz, an AgriLife Extension horticulturist in Edinburg. “It’s a process that dates back to the late 1700s in France.

“During World War II in this country, propaganda posters encouraged families to plant victory gardens and preserve the resulting produce. It was intended to reduce reliance on limited food supplies and allowed canning companies to concentrate on feeding soldiers.”

The appeal now is helping the environment and eating healthier, she said.

“People want to consume more of what they grow and not let it go to waste,” Storz said. “It’s also a great way to eat wholesome, fresh foods that taste great and are good for you.”

To help the community learn the process, AgriLife Extension is sponsoring four workshops titled, “Preserving the Harvest,” to be held July 16-17.

Dr. Jenna Anding, an AgriLife Extension family and consumer science specialist in College Station, will conduct the no-cost workshops at the St. George Orthodox Church, 704 W. Sam Houston in Pharr.

From 9-11 a.m. on July 16, the workshop will be on making pickles. Later that day, from 6-8 p.m., Anding will teach participants how to make fruit jams.

The fruit jam class will be repeated from 9-11 a.m. July 17. The evening class, from 6-8 p.m. will be on drying fruits and vegetables.

“These no-cost workshops are possible thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency and the National Center for Appropriate Technology,” Storz said. “We’re having four workshops, morning and evenings, to accommodate as many people as possible. But each session is limited to 20 people so early sign-up is encouraged.”

Participants can sign up for multiple classes in order to take all three classes, Storz said.

To register, contact the AgriLife Extension office for Hidalgo County at 956-383-1026 or email Storz at b-storz@tamu.edu.

“This is a great opportunity to learn a healthy and fun activity the whole family can enjoy,” Storz said. “The pickles and jams are especially tasty, and by learning to dry fruits and vegetables, we can make our own healthy snacks and preserve food that can be rehydrated in sauces.”

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