Want to save money on your grocery bill? Want top-quality food for your family? Want to learn the art of preserving food at home? Whether your interest in home food preservation is a continuing hobby or a new cost-cutting measure to take advantage of seasonal produce, Kansas State Research and Extension can help you do it safely.

Plan to attend the program "Preserving the Harvest: Food Preservation 2010" at noon Thursday at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St., on the fairgrounds in Garden City. Bring a lunch to enjoy during the program if you wish; drinks and dessert will be provided. Pre-register by Wednesday by calling the Extension office at 272-3670.

I will be the class instructor and together we'll review the science of preserving food at home with a special look at the basics of home canning. You'll receive the latest food preservation guidelines, plus advice on equipment and recommendations for storing food safely.

Now is a great time to test your home food preservation knowledge and be sure you're aware of the most current information. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

* What are aerobic, anaerobic and facultative bacteria and why should I care?

* Have I changed my canning procedures based on the altitude of my area?

* What's the difference between a raw pack and a hot pack and which one is better?

* What's "low temperature pasteurization" and when is it used?

* Is paraffin still an acceptable way to seal sweet spreads?

* Acidification is required for what home canned product?

* Are liquid and powdered pectin interchangeable in jelly recipes?

* What's the difference between a syrup pack, sugar pack and tray pack and when would each be used?

* Do I store home canned foods with the rings on or off the jars?

If you answered all these questions correctly, you're well on your way to safe and effective home food preservation. However, if you are in doubt about any of these topics, you'll want to attend the Extension program "Preserving the Harvest" on Thursday.

Whether you're new to home food preservation, or you've been "putting food by" for years, you'll appreciate this review of the latest principles for preserving top-quality food at home. Call the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670 to pre-register for this Extension educational program.

For more information on food safety issues, see my Living Well blog at SWKTalk.com/livingwell.