October 1, 2003 | By: Haven Miller

Kentucky farmers who raise their own crops to produce salsa, barbecue sauce, dill pickles, canned corn, marinated mushrooms and a host of other products are receiving valuable microprocessing training with the help of the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Microprocessing, which is a fancy term for canning, refers to the process that kills bacteria in foods so they can be shelf stable.  To sell certain homemade foods either on the farm, at certified roadside stands or at farmers markets, Kentucky producers must first be certified.

“Before House Bill 391 which went into effect after June 30, individuals had to get a food manufacturing permit and have a certified kitchen, but the legislation now enables them to take workshop training and receive a certificate,” said Sandra Bastin, UK Extension food and nutrition specialist. “The whole idea of microprocessing is to have a certain time and temperature relationship so we’ll kill whatever bacteria might be present in acidified or low-acid foods and make them safe for shelf storage.”

At a recent workshop in Lexington, 40 people attended.  They included county Extension agents, health department employees and farmers.

“This training is beneficial because we grow blackberries and strawberries and they go bad fast if you don’t have a market for them, so we thought if we made jellies and jams they would do more service for our farm,” said Kelly Ruggles.  She and her husband, John, own and operate a farm near Olive Hill.

“This workshop was excellent and the presenters were well prepared for answering the questions,” said Susana Lein, who grows organic vegetables on her farm near Berea. “When I complete this and get everything approved I’ll be selling a salsa that I make.”

Attendees must pass two tests in order to earn their certificate, and all recipes must be reviewed.

“Producers can use USDA recipes or their own, but recipes have to be approved in order for the person to be certified,” said Bastin.  “Their home kitchen also will be inspected by the Kentucky Food Safety Branch.”

Foods included in the list of those requiring microprocessing certification must contain a major ingredient from the processor’s farm.  The food may be processed in the home kitchen.

Bastin said Kentucky producers can be certified as a home-based microprocessor at either the UK-sponsored workshops, or at approved Better Process Control schools available in several states.



Source: Sandra Bastin, 859-257-1812