OSU Opens Food Preservation Hotline

OSU’s food preservation and safety hotline opens July 10:

Is it safe to bring deviled eggs to the church picnic? How do I preserve Grandma’s piccalilli relish? Do I really need to pressure-can green beans?

For answers to these and other questions about safely serving and preserving summer’s food bounty, you can talk to a Master Food Preserver from Oregon State University Extension. Call toll-free 1-800-354-7319 weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The hotline opens July 10 and closes Oct. 13.

Typical hotline questions include where to get pressure-canner gauges tested, whether an old family canning recipe is still safe and what to do if your refrigerator or freezer goes out. Answers are provided by Extension-trained and -certified Master Food Preservers, a volunteer-based program active in 18 Oregon counties.

Master Food Preservers is part of OSU Extension’s Family and Community Health (FCH) program, which provides research-based knowledge on all aspects of food, nutrition and family and community well-being. When it comes to food safety, calling the hotline is always a better bet than randomly searching the internet, advises Nellie Oehler, an FCH faculty member and Master Food Preserver coordinator in Lane County.

“There’s a lot of misinformation online,” says Oehler. If you call the hotline, you’ll get to talk to a real person, she said. And you can be confident that the information you’re getting is current and reliable. Last year Extension faculty, staff and volunteers fielded 2,760 phone calls, 324 Ask an Expert questions and 1,625 office walk-ins queries on food preservation.

OSU Extension also offers a wealth of online information on the topic. Extension’s Ask an Expert service also takes online questions about food preservation and many other topics. Find more information about the Master Food Preserver program at Volunteer Programs.

Information provided by OSU