Master Gardener: Learn to preserve food year-round

Mary Kaye Schoeneman
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Colorado Master Gardener Ellyn Myller welcomes people to a previous Evening with the Master Gardeners event
Routt County Extension/Courtesy photo

It was a warm August morning in 2021 at the Farmer’s Market.

The tomatoes and peaches were smiling at me from their perch at the booth across the street. Cara was selling her pies next to me and “Mike the Knife” (to our left) was telling future purchasers the benefits of his fancy kitchen knives. The day of selling was underway!

At 10 a.m., two visitors strolled into the booth and began examining the colorful freeze-dried fruits on display…apples, strawberries, peaches and pineapple. After some initial conversation, the lady looked at me sternly and said, “Oh, you must be a prepper”. “No,” I said, we just like the way the foods taste when they are freeze dried.

What the heck was a “prepper”? I had never even heard the term before. So, I reached in my pocket for that annoying little machine and typed in “prepper”. To my surprise, there were volumes of information on being prepared for food supply shortages and electrical outages. Folks with rooms full of food and water to last a year or more.

Here I was an “accidental” prepper and didn’t even know it. Do my three jars of jam and one can of tomatoes count? A freezer full of fruit? Six freeze-dried strawberries?!

But why wait? Maybe food preserving all year long would stock the larder and provide some luscious “comfort food” in late January (think pressure-canned chicken soup). And in the summer, preserve the bounty from our gardens and all of the seasonal produce at the local market and the stores.

But where do we start with preserving?? How do I use all of the garlic and onions from my garden?? The large quantity of parsley left over from the tablespoon I needed for the lasagna?

Maybe start by discovering various methods of “food preservation” such as fermentation, dehydrating, freeze-drying, water bath canning, and pressure canning. These topics will be presented by some of Routt County’s Master Food Safety advisors from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 15. To register, please call Routt County Extension at 970-879-0825, or email

Or register at:

“Hands-on classes” will be held later in the spring — watch for the notifications.

Interested in starting your own garden or improving your existing garden? Join the Routt County CSU  Master Gardeners at  the Bud Werner Memorial Library on April 25 and 26 from 5-7 p.m. Expert gardening advice to help you plan and maximize your summer garden. Learn the best ways to leverage our short growing season and challenging soils.

Mary Kaye Schoeneman is a Master Gardener with the CSU Extension office in Routt County.

Master Gardener logo

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