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Bring your vegetables, fruits to Canning Center's kitchen

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001

INVERNESS -- The Citrus County Food Preservation Kitchen, commonly referred to as the Canning Center, is open part-time this month and March.

During these months the kitchen will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for public use, or by scheduled appointment. During May, June and July, the Food Preservation Kitchen will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., weekdays or by appointment.

The Canning Center is on Southern Street off County Road 491 approximately a quarter mile north of State Road 44. It is best, though not necessary, to call ahead to schedule an appointment or to verify kitchen availability. The public is welcome to stop by anytime during operational hours.

To schedule kitchen time, please call Lauri Gist, canning kitchen supervisor, at 746-4324 or the University of Florida Citrus County Extension Office at 726-2141.

The Canning Center is a self-help facility equipped for the preparation, preservation and heat processing of seasonal fruits and vegetables, pickles and relishes, sauces and syrups, and jam and jellies.

The resources of the Canning Center enable you to bring in homegrown produce or what you have purchased to preserve them for future personal use. You bring canning jars, produce and recipe ingredients such as spices, vinegar, etc. After you wash and prepare your produce, you will fill your sanitized canning jars and apply the lids. The Food Preservation Kitchen Supervisor will then process the jars for you.

You are encouraged to use the Canning Center for more than just preparing foods for home canning. Prepare foods, such as creamed corn, beans and peas, for freezer storage.

If you choose to preserve foods at home and not at the Canning Center, be sure to follow the latest canning recommendations, guidelines and recipes.

The best sources of home canning instructions and recipes are the recent published booklets prepared by the Cooperative Extension Service at many land-grant universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and major manufacturers of home canning equipment.

Many canning recipes and procedures from your mother's generation or before 1994 are no longer accepted due to changes in acid levels of foods and other recent research findings that prove the older recipes have potentially hazardous instructions or methods that may not produce the highest quality products. When in doubt, utilize the resources of the Citrus County Canning Kitchen to help process your foods or call your local Extension Office at 726-2141.

All programs and activities offered by the Florida Cooperative Extension Service are available to all persons regardless of race, creed, sex, or national origin.

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