What is a Certified Master Food Preserver and How Do You Become One?

Certified Master Food Preserver Graduates (and instructors on the ends) – Summer 2018 ~Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

I’ve received so many messages and e-mails from people asking where they can take a class like I took in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii this past June (2018), so here are some answers. The Master Food Preserver course is offered ALL OVER the place, but unfortunately Minnesota and Wisconsin have cancelled their courses for now and that’s why I went to Hawaii. Other states around the country are also phasing it out, due to “lack of funding”. This seems like an essential course to have, especially for us Midwesterner’s, that live in a frozen tundra for a good chunk of the year. There is nothing like cracking open a jar of food preserved in the summer when it’s the dead of winter, I tell ya….

But, before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about what a Certified Master Food Preserver is. A Master Food Preserver (MFP) is someone that has completed the intensive certification course (usually offered) through the Extension Service in their county. They have received in-depth training of up-to-date USDA-approved methods of food preservation for preserving food safely and successfully at home. A MFP must also have a desire to teach others how to preserve, because a MFP is required to volunteer 40+ hours (varies per program) within their community each year and teach others how to preserve food. Each program is a bit different, varying from county to county. For example, Maine offers a course that is 10 Fridays in a row and New York offers the course in 3 days, back-to-back.

The course I took in Kona was spread out over 3 weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so I had to go to Kona for 2.5 weeks — OH, SHUCKS ;). Though the class layout and the cost of the class varies location by location, the material taught should pretty much be the same. At the end of the course, there is a long test with multiple choice, fill in the blank and essay questions (they gave us 4 hours to complete it) and as part of passing our class, we even had to present a 20-minute demo in front of our class and instructors, on which we were graded. Oh, and we had quizzes every night too and there was tons of reading and hands on kitchen time. It was A LOT OF WORK but I loved every single minute of it.

Why did I want to become a MFP? Well, because I teach people how to can and ferment pretty much every day. I write books about it and I want to learn everything I can possibly can so I can be an even better resource for YOU. Plus, the course not only teaches you about water bath canning and fermenting, but also goes into topics that I’m not as well versed in, such as dehydrating, pressure canning, freezing and charcuterie. It also has a large emphasis on food safety and proper food handling to avoid food borne illnesses (which is completely avoidable by the way!).

So, how do you become one? I’d start with a general search on google. See what comes up near you. If you need to travel a state or two, be sure to check with the director of the course to make sure you are allowed to attend before purchasing the class.

If you have any questions I didn’t answer, post in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

If you missed my blog posts about being in Hawaii, here is my summary of Week 1 and my summary of Week 2.

To be notified of future food preservation classes in the Twin Cities, please e-mail me at: minnesotafromscratch(at)gmail(dot)com with the subject line “Future Classes”.

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