I have vague memories of canning with my grandma up in Pennsylvania. She and my grandpa gardened on about an acre of land – a huge section of their yard and an entire lot behind the old family homestead where my great aunt and her family still lived. Summer vacation memories are focused mainly on fireflies and the sweet, green smell of freshly shucked corn. I’ve always been lazily interested in the idea of a self-sufficient lifestyle and my husband, who is far less lazy and far more qualified, would be happiest on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Alas, we live here in Florida on about a third of an acre and we do the best we can. And for me, that operative word is “can.” Oh, how I love the steamy kitchen on a canning day! Jams, pickles, tomatoes – I’m not picky! If I can put it in a jar, I will.
Earlier this year, I heard the term “master canner” and began exploring how one could earn such a designation. After a little bit of time spent with Monsieur Google, I discovered that the correct title is actually Master Food Preserver and it’s a mastery of various forms of food preservation, including canning, freezing, drying, etc. I also learned that the only people who were able to hand out this certification were state cooperative extension agencies. And guess what – the programs available are few and far between. I spent days emailing every agency in the state of Florida (each county has its own) and was thrilled to find a program that was being held in Jacksonville, *only* 4 1/2 hours away. Except they would only accept students who lived in their county. And, while the course was quite similar, you didn’t graduate with that groovy MFP title.
After another five days with Monsieur Google, I came across a program being offered through the Cornell Extension in Rochester, NY. And I got accepted! Was I crazy enough to buy a plane ticket, book a hotel, and do this? Why yes, indeed I was! And so I received the coveted MFP training and the crazy huge MFP binder and a lovely certificate saying that I had completed said training. It was a wonderful, intensive week of kitchen magic taught by two of the most amazing women I have ever met. And I want to go back and do it again!
In the meantime though, I’m logging my food preservation work and building up to my MFP certification. I will begin teaching at Crowley Folk School starting this Fall. And I’m available for private lessons in your home or mine. Have a preservation question? Just ask and I’ll do my best to get you an answer. I’m so excited to share these skills with the community and turn each and every one of you into a canning addict just like me!
Edited to add: wheeee! I’m official as of March 2013!