- Roberts, Alexis
In the spring of 2020, there was a surge in the interest of home canning due to more Americans gardening and spending time at home. In response, Fulton County Extension began offering live virtual canning webinars and demos.
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. However, it is critical to provide education for home food preservation because a high percentage of home canners follow incorrect practices putting them at risk for serious illness and possibly death. 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. An initial home canning class was presented on May 7th, reaching 232 participants from Georgia and surrounding states. Due to the positive response, an additional four-part Canning for Beginners series was created and conducted entirely online, from May to June 2020. The canning presentations were offered for free.
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. A total of 314 of 843 participants completed the online questionnaire. Participants reported feeling more confident, knowledgeable, and empowered to use this information in the future. Before each canning presentation almost one third of participants reported having no knowledge of the information presented, and only 4% considered themselves extremely or very knowledgeable. After each class about 60% 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. The biggest impact was the ability for participants to see live demonstrations in contrast to a standard slide presentation. One participant stated that the most beneficial part of the program was: “Watching the canning process. As a self-taught canner I realized I was doing some things improperly and watching the techniques was very helpful” 302 participants reported they would, on average, save or gain $39.4 over the next month as a result of obtaining the information from the online extension program they participated in via Zoom. Participants perceived the economic value of the extension programming to be $11,898 over the next month. 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. One participant wrote: “I can watch from home the recorded version and slides offered after the class, so I can go back and review. Thank you for the canning series.”
Food Safety & Quality
- Year: 2020
- Geographic Scope: National
- County: Fulton
- Location: College Station, Athens
- Family and Consumer Sciences