Food Preservation: From Edible School Garden to Science Table

byJames Matthew Churilla

Why do my students always ask if they can have some of the sweet carrots or fresh strawberries from our edible garden in the winter time when they know that those crops were eaten last Fall? What’s a Science Specialist to do to quell the craving of his students? If there was only a process that I could use to prevent the decay or spoilage of the edible garden’s harvest and somehow store it for the Winter and have it bacteria free, what would that look like? Preservation! Imagine it! Students snacking on pickled sweet carrots or spreading strawberry preserves made in the Fall, on crackers with cream cheese. Eating hotdogs and homemade sauerkraut as a reward for becoming the Scientist for the month of February; the edible creations are endless. Just think, macerated strawberries and C12H22O11, when heated, cooled, and contained in a sterilized jar, makes strawberry preserves. Who would have thought, taking two simple ingredients and heat, would create something that sweet?

That is just a sample of one of the recipes that you will find in the unit on Food Preservation: From Edible School Garden to Science Table. The unit details types of bacteria and foodborne pathogens. Methods of food preservations from drying to sugar preservation are presented, as well as tools of the trade and the Father of Canning, Nicolas Appert. This unit was written with the intention to introduce the concepts to Grades 2 and 3 in the Science classroom. However, you may adapt it to your elementary/secondary grade.

(Developed for Science/Life, grades 2-3; recommended for Science, Biology, and Chemistry, grades 6-8)

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