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4-H Food Preservation Project

cans of various jams and jellies on a shelf

Food preservation is a way to enjoy fresh-grown fruits, meats and vegetables all year! What football tailgating event would be complete without chips and salsa? Do you add pickles to your hamburger? Do you prefer jam or jelly with your peanut butter sandwich? Many every day foods we eat are preserved by canning, pickling, freezing or drying.

Ages and Stages of Youth Development


Beginners learn skills, such as sorting and cleaning vegetables, freezing berries, making refrigerator pickles, and learning, with assistance, to use a dehydrator or pressure canner. Youth will understand food safety and its importance.


Juniors should know the importance of correctly processing and sealing canned products. Make salsa using farm-grown products, learn about pectins and make jam, and discover which fruits and vegetables freeze and can well.


Seniors can demonstrate knowledge of pressure canning, share the importance of correct jar size in canning, understand why headspace and tight seals are important, learn how vinegar can be used to prevent spoilage, and make meat jerky.

4-H Programming Priorities


Food preservation is for feeding communities. Youth can teach a food preservation method and share the importance of food safety and correct canning.

Health & Wellness

Promote consumption of fruits and vegetables all year, and list alternatives that are preserved when fruits/vegetable are outside of their growing season.


Learn which vegetables/fruits are better fresh and which can be preserved. Study food preservation methods. Analyze nutrition information for different foods.


Share the importance of locally grown foods and their preservation. Contact state industry groups; promote their products through recipes and preservation methods.

Get Involved

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Youth Voice

  • Demonstrate how to dry apples with a food dehydrator
  • Communicate the importance of food safety when preserving fruits/vegetables
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Community Service

  • Help preserve the harvests of a community garden
  • Share resources on canning methods
  • Donate extra preserved vegetables from your garden
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Career Connections

  • Food technologist
  • Garden production worker
  • Food safety specialist
  • Entrepreneur
  • United States Department of Agriculture employee

Exhibit Ideas

  • Exhibit canned foods exhibits including jams or jellies, canned meat, pickles, fruits, vegetables or salsa
  • Dried fruits, vegetables, or herbs
  • Fruit leather
  • Create a poster highlighting food safety with food preservation