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Food preservation classes in August and September help gardeners keep their harvest longer

LITTLE FALLS—With the local food harvest season in full swing, Sprout is providing learning opportunities in partnership with University of Minnesota Extension for those who want to extend their local bounty beyond the growing season.

Two upcoming food preservation workshops are offered at the Sprout facility, 609 13th Ave. NE, Door 8, Little Falls. The first class serves up lessons on canning salsa and the second teaches lacto-fermentation of vegetables.

In the spirit of the upcoming Minnesota Salsa Fest on Sept. 22 at the Long Prairie Fairgrounds, Sprout is hosting "Learn to Salsa," which teaches class attendees how to safely produce and can salsa and tomato-based foods.

The class is 1-5 p.m. Aug. 4, at Sprout in Little Falls and will welcome both seasoned canners and new learners who want to make sure their canned products are both delicious and safe to eat. The class is perfect for those interested in canning their produce from their own garden or for those preparing salsa for the 2018 Minnesota Salsa Fest Competition, organizers stated. More information on the Minnesota Salsa Fest can be found at www.sfa-mn.org/salsafest.

The second food preservation workshop will focus on lacto-fermented foods, turning cabbage into sauerkraut while retaining the probiotic benefits. The class will focus on the method of fermentation with measures that ensure safety like testing the pH and temperature of the product and monitoring it during its five-week fermentation period.

Attendees of this class will work with locally grown cabbage to prepare and ferment a batch of sauerkraut. While Sprout will monitor the batch over the fermentation period, participants will get to sample lacto-fermented products like sauerkraut, kimchi and beets. Each class participant will get to take home a jar of pre-made sauerkraut, along with recipes and resources to continue to ferment safely at home. The "Learn to Ferment" workshop is planned 1-4 p.m. Sept. 29.

The classes will be instructed by University of Minnesota Extension food safety educator Suzanne Driessen, who has been teaching food preservation and food safety for 21 years at the university. Driessen develops and teaches food safety classes for both the food industry and consumers, but her experience with food preservation started when she was 8 years old, growing up in a large family of 13 with a huge garden to match.

"In the summer, it felt like we worked in a small on-farm food processing factory. We canned everything," Driessen said in a news release.

Now, Driessen has a garden and continues to can her harvest. Her favorites are tomato juice, a local Minnesota tomato mix, pickled beans and pickled jalapeño peppers.

Tickets for each of the classes cost $30 and include tastings along the way, ingredients to prepare their batch, and a product to take home. Space for each class is limited and reservations can be made by calling 320-412-3081 or emailing natalie

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The food preservation classes are provided by the University of Minnesota Extension and sponsored by a grant awarded to the Region Five Development Commission by ArtPlace America's National Creative Placemaking Fund. The ArtPlace funds are providing Sprout and partners the support needed to host an expansion of economic opportunities, social and cultural experiences, and learning for local growers, artists, makers, producers, chefs and the public.

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