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Rediscover Food Preservation: Redesigned Website Empowers Consumers and Extension Professionals

Interest in home food preservation has surged in recent years, fueled by more time spent at home and a desire for self-sufficiency. People are rediscovering traditional methods like canning, pickling, and drying to preserve their harvests and reduce food waste.

But with this increased interest comes a crucial need for science-based information. Safe food preservation practices are essential to avoid foodborne illness and economic loss from spoiled food. This is especially important for the growing cottage food industry, which allows entrepreneurs to turn their skills into income, boosting local economies.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) has long been a critical resource for those seeking information about home food preservation, including Extension educators, consumers, and cottage food business owners. Established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES-USDA) in 2000 as a multi-institutional effort with the University of Georgia and Alabama A&M University as the primary institutions, NCHFP reported that requests for validated home food preservation recipes shot up a whopping 620% in 2020 compared with 2019.

Thanks to funding from a USDA NIFA New Technologies for Ag Extension (NTAE) sub-award and support from the Extension Foundation, the NCHFP recently launched a redesigned website. This user-friendly resource empowers both home cooks and Extension professionals, offering clear instructions on various methods, from canning jams to fermenting vegetables. A robust resource section provides downloadable publications. Website visitors can also explore recipes and use the search function to find needed information.

Dr. Carla Schwan, Assistant Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist at the University of Georgia, serves as the Center’s director. She noted:

"The NTAE sub-awards were instrumental in the development of our new National Center for Home Food Preservation website. It provided us with the resources necessary to enhance and add several key features, including a Newsflash feed, a dedicated educators page with exclusive content for Extension professionals, and an enhanced search function. Without this sub-award, completing this project wouldn't have been possible.

Throughout the process, the NTAE team has been incredibly supportive and helpful. Key individuals such as Aaron Weibe, Fred Schlutt, and Tira Adelman were particularly instrumental in guiding us and providing valuable resources. Their expertise and dedication made a significant difference in the success of our website development initiative."

A network of Extension professionals is building capacity

The demand for best food preservation practices inspired a group of Extension professionals to create a consortium to organize and expand their work. Specialists in home food preservation, small food businesses, and consumer and retail food safety from 13 Southeastern states launched the Food Safety Extension Network (FSEN) in 2021 to raise general awareness of the importance of preserving food safely and to be a resource for home cooks, small, independent food retailers, and home-based food preparation businesses. FSEN is building capacity, so that other universities can also contribute content and resources to the NCHFP website. You can learn more about FSEN's’s work in this story, featured in the 2023 NTAE Yearbook. Participating institutions are University of Arkansas, Clemson University, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Kentucky, North Carolina State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech University, Fort Valley State University, University of Maryland, Louisiana State University, Mississipi State University, Auburn University, and Alcorn State University.

Dr. Schwan is involved in FSEN and notes, β€œThe NTAE grant started this synergistic collaboration and we hope that by the end of it, we will have collective products and outcomes to share with consumers.”

Visit the website NCHFP website here.

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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