Spotlight Columns

Master Food Preservers: What’s in your pantry?

Summer Brasuel
UCCE Master Food Preserver of El Dorado County

The most rewarding thing about home preserving is having a variety of pantry items at my fingertips; items I know my family loves and enjoys with the added bonus of feeling good about the ingredients contained in those jars.

Meat broth, salsas, tomato products of all kinds, condiments (mustards and barbecue sauces) and pie fillings —the list is endless. Endless!

Just this week I made meals using home-canned chicken broth in potato-leek soup, spaghetti and meatballs using home-canned pasta sauce, an appetizer using homegrown and canned pickled peppadews and mini fruit pies using homemade pie filling.

Although dump-and-heat items such as chili, pasta sauce and soups are wonderful to have on hand and super convenient, condiments are what makes a dish stand out. A savory mustard can make a fish or meat dish shine. Barbecue sauces made from home-grown apples, plums, peaches or apricots bring a unique touch to those ribs.

How about relish? Think about a sweet-and sour pepper relish made with sweet peppers, tart apples and cabbage. Serve that as a topping for those brats on game day. Your friends will beg you to serve it every time.

Salsa is another condiment to have on hand. Keep salsas in your pantry with flavor profiles that your family loves. Like Goldilocks said, “This is just right.” Salsas aren’t just for chips. They can be used as a sauce for crock-pot pulled pork or chicken, as a base for enchilada sauce or as a condiment for fish — just like you may have had on that trip to Mexico.

Using safe, home, food-preserving processes as well as tested recipes from reliable sources such as National Center for Home Food Preservation or various Ball books are key to keeping my family and loved ones safe while enjoying my home-preserved products.

Tested recipes ensure that home-preserved products are safe. Tested recipes tell us the correct head space for products to create a good seal; they also make sure a product is properly acidified to deter the growth of food-borne pathogens such as mold and botulism and determine processing times which also ensure that food-borne pathogens are killed during processing. Products are also tested for taste and texture.

On March 18 the UCCE Master Food Preservers of El Dorado County will host a free public class, “What’s In Your Pantry?” In this class we will focus on condiments. Several demonstrations will be presented using both boiling water and steam canning processes. Learn how to preserve and get some great ideas for stocking your pantry throughout the year. The class is from 9 a.m. to noon in the Bethell-Delfino Agriculture Building, 311 Fair Lane in Placerville.

Download the 2017 UCCE Master Food Preservers schedule of classes and workshops on our main website at We are offering some new events this year. In addition to our free preserving classes in Placerville, we now provide classes in Cameron Park at the Cameron Park Community Center and several all-day, hands-on workshops in Placerville.

UCCE Master Food Preservers are available to answer home food preservation questions; leave a message at (530) 621-5506 or email us at [email protected]. For more information about our program and events, visit Sign up to receive our E-Newsletter at Find us on Facebook, too.

Special to Village Life


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