Humphrey's Cornell Cooperative Extension Exhibit
By Jasmine Willis
SPRINGWATER — A local woman who has done her part in enhancing the community has a display at the museum.
Springwater-Webster Crossing Historical Society held an open house on Sept. 24 and revealed the new exhibit on Katherine Humphrey’s time (1969-1991 full-time, 1991-2017 part-time) as a Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator.
Humphrey showcases her work in the Cornell Cooperative Extension Home Food Preservation. She shows the scientific process that goes into canning and preserving food.
Humphrey said the relationship between time and temperature is very important in this process.
Among the artifacts on display are the original pipe pressure testers and Bail Canning Jars.
“I had these items stored in my home, and the Historical Society members wanted to put them on display. They thought people would be interested in the process that goes into preserving food. I taught a class at Cornell Cooperative Extension on Home Food Preservation from 1969 to 2016, the last 20 years with Judy Price. Judy Price is still teaching home food preservation now as a three-day master training class,” she said.
The process goes through canning, freezing, drying, and fermentation of food.
“I have had a lot of people who want to learn the safe and proper way to do this,” she said. “People need to commit to a three-day and two-night class. It is hard for young people who are working a full-time job or have families to do that. This class is meant to train others to go on to teach other people how to do this. We actually need more people to train others throughout the state.”
There are two different kinds of scientific process that goes into preserving food whether it is for home or for commercial use. The class focuses on home food preservation. If anyone is interested in selling preserved food, they need to go to the Cornell Food Venture Center https://cfvc.foodscience.cals.cornell.edu/for that. The Food Venture Center is the place that has all the safety and codes up to standards for that sort of thing.
“You have to follow certain rules in order to be safe when it comes to canning food. When you have any acid foods like tomatoes with added lemon juice, jelly or jam or pickles they are preserved in a boiling water canner. When you have low acid foods like meats and veggies, they need to be processed in a pressure canner. We add an acid like vinegar to low acid foods (example, dilly beans) for preservation in a boiling water canner,” she said.
Humphrey mentioned the importance of freezing and packaging foods as well. When it comes to freezing foods, you need to cool them down first to prevent condensation in the form of frost in the packages. In addition, you want as little air as possible in the packages to prevent freezer burn. When it comes to choosing packaging materials, you want to choose those that are moisture and vapor resistant. Although glass is the best insulator, it breaks easily as the food expands. When food freezes, extra space, called head space, is needed.
Mason Jars are the best jars to use for canning. When they break it’s only the bottoms that fall out. These jars never shatter like normal glass. Ball Jars have been some of the best jars for canning, and for over a century they are the ones people still trust. Humphrey has the vintage blue glass ones that came out for the 100-year anniversary.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation is the best place to go for updated information on preservation and canning. You can visit that site at https://nchfp.uga.edu. There are plenty of books on this subject also on display.
The Springwater-Webster Crossing Historical Society will have a program hosted by Katherine Humphrey and Judy Price on Tuesday, October 22 with a dish-to-pass dinner at 6:30 p.m. and program at 7:15 p.m. at the Springwater American Legion to talk about this process and the exhibit. It is free and open to the public, though a donation to the Historical Society is much appreciated.