By Heather Foran
Preserving food can be a mystifying and daunting endeavor if you’ve never done it before. But have no fear. Maine has many resources to help you get started. Learning some of the myriad methods for preserving produce, meat, and dairy allows us to have access to locally sourced food year round, despite short growing seasons and cold winter months. Here are some resources to get you started in basic food preservation skills.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
The Cooperative Extension provides up-to-date information on food preservation based on university research. Their website is full of resource sheets and how-to videos and they offer a series of hands-on workshops on basic food preservation. For those who want to take their food preserving to another level (and volunteer their expertise to help others learn) check out the 5-month Master Preserver program.
Headquartered in Orono, with offices in each county
The Morris Farm Trust is both a working farm and an educational resource for the communities of mid coast Maine. Their 50 acres of pasture and farmland support a University of Maine Extension Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, the Morris Farm Wiscasset Primary School Garden, Wiscasset Community Gardens and a resident farmer. The Morris Farm offers field trips and after school programs for kindergarten through high school students as well as lectures, events and demonstrations for both children and adults. All of their programs utilize the farm’s land and animals to foster respect for the earth and to instill a sense of shared responsibility for the wise stewardship of natural resources. The farm’s programs for adults range from gardening workshops to seminars by advocates of sustainable agriculture and practitioners of traditional handcrafts and farmer-to-farmer training and information exchanges.
156 Gardner Road, Wiscassett
Saltwater Farm is a recreational cooking school located on the coast in Lincolnville on an old sheep farm. They run classes in traditional cooking methods: bread baking, preserving fruits and vegetables, knife and butchery techniques. And all of their classes end with a communal feast!
25 Woodward Hill, Lincolnville
Ten Apple Farm
Ten Apple Farm is a diversified homestead in Gray, Maine, featuring a small herd of Alpine dairy goats, assorted poultry, and a large kitchen garden. They try to do several workshops in basic homesteading skills each season. Workshops include Basic Home Cheesemaking, Baking, Poultry Slaughter & Processing, and Preserving & Canning. Join them for a “goat hike” while you’re at it!
241 Yarmouth Road, Grey
In addition to the resources listed here, be sure to check with your local adult education department for additional local classes on food preserving topics. Scarborough Adult Education in particular offers numerous sustainability-related courses.