Story in Brief
The spring season typically increases enthusiasm for home food preservation, and this has been greatly increased by the emergence of the global pandemic, COVID-19. Due to the pandemic, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension was unable to conduct face-to-face programming. Fulton County Extension had to adapt to online resources to address the need for food preservation education in order to reduce the risk of improper canning. The virtual Canning for Beginners classes were designed to educate participants on the science of home canning, safe canning methods, and where to find trusted resources on food preservation. A total of 843 virtual attendees came from Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas and three foreign countries: Canada, Australia and Argentina. The participants connected via Zoom for five approximately 1.5-hour classes, providing detailed information on canning jams and jellies, salsa, pickles, and pressure canning. Participants were shown step-by-step instruction and used recipes from “So Easy To Preserve,” a food preservation recipe book produced and distributed by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. At the conclusion of each class, participants were shown how to find evidence based canning resources online. Before each canning presentation almost one-third of participants reported having no knowledge of the information presented, and only 4 percent considered themselves extremely or very knowledgeable. After each class about 60 percent of participants reported feeling very or extremely knowledgeable about the information presented. Eighty-six percent of participants would definitely use this information in the future to prevent the growth of microorganisms and follow safe canning practices. One participant said, "As a self-taught canner I realized I was doing some things improperly and watching the techniques was very helpful.” All classes in the series were recorded and posted online on to the Fulton County Extension Facebook page. This extended the impact of the program, allowing participants to re-watch and providing education to those that were unable to attend. The recorded videos have been viewed almost 2,000 times.