As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with her grandmother, or watch as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.
“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas. “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”
Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food. She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, have joined forces to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension program. Once every month, they gather students in either Clay County or Duval County to offer instruction on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.
In Clay County, classes are usually conducted at the UF/IFAS Extension office in Green Cove Springs. To learn more about the program, call (904) 284-6355.
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teach canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas