Jewel-toned berries ranging from plump triangular strawberries to delicate knobby raspberries, tender asparagus spears and sweet round peas have finally filled the local farmers markets.
In Clark County, this bounty comes once a year and in abundance.
For those interested in savoring these tastes later in the year, Second Mile Marketplace in Salmon Creek offers classes focused on safely preserving spring and summer fruits and vegetables. The current class list runs until Oct. 1 and includes jams and jellies, pickling, fruit sauces and syrups, canning tomatoes, advanced tomatoes and salsas — and a class called My Garden Went Crazy focused on canning zucchini.
Each class offers space for eight students. Students have their own stations fully equipped with jars, produce and everything necessary to complete their preserving projects. Students can bring their own aprons and masks.
These are hands-on classes where everyone does their own chopping and canning. The small class size ensures a personalized experience in which to ask questions and get the maximum benefit from instruction.
Produce for the classes is sourced locally, either through the farmers who work with Second Mile or from regional farmers markets. A cold spring modified the spring and summer harvest this year. Crops are at least a couple of weeks late, making it necessary to source some produce from places like Yakima that experienced a warmer spring.
Classes are taught by former master food preservers trained by Washington State University Extension. This program, launched in 1976 as a pilot project in King and Yakima counties, uses a volunteer outreach model meant to share research-based information with the community.
Master food preservers are trained to assist in providing accurate information on food safety and preservation to the public. The teachers at Second Mile Marketplace share this extensive knowledge with students to ensure that the preserved foods they make are safe to eat.
“The problem is that there are recipes on the internet but there’s no rigorous testing, so they may not be safe,” said Holly Hansen, co-owner of Second Mile Marketplace.
Additional classes focused on Thanksgiving or holiday gifts may be added. The best way to keep updated on classes is to check the website and click the Events tab (https://secondmilemarketplace.com/events).
Safely preserving spring and summer produce provides a taste memory of the warm sunshine during the winter. “There’s nothing like opening a can of peaches in the middle of February,” Hansen said. “It’s so fresh and economical.”
Rachel Pinsky: firstname.lastname@example.org