Apr. 6—The growing season is just around the corner, and you can always count on El Paso County Colorado State University Extension to offer classes that can help.

But alongside the lawn and garden webinars are more in-depth classes on food preservation and healthy eating. And, if you want to make your own goodies to sell at farmers markets, there are courses for learning about food safety and getting certified for cottage food production.

Here’s a look at some of these offerings, which you can sign up for at elpaso.extension.colostate.edu. Many are free or a very reasonable price.

— Dining with Diabetes series.

This health and wellness program consists of classes that help individuals learn strategies to lessen the health risks of diabetes. Four two-hour classes are held once a week and will include video demonstrations, physical activity and instruction on how to prepare healthy foods. The free course is for those with diabetes and their family members, caregivers and support people. It will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays, April 20 and 27, and May 4 and 11.

— Home Food Preservation: Water Bath Canning.

Learn how to preserve either your garden harvest or locally purchased produce by canning high-acid foods safely. Techniques for putting up fruit, salsa, pickles, tomatoes, jams and jellies will be covered. Cost is $10. Classes are online, held from noon to 1 p.m. on the following days: April 21 and May 5 (basics of water bath canning), May 10 (pickling), May 12 (jams) and May 19 (introduction to pressure canning). Preregistration is required.

— Cottage Foods Food Safety Certification.

Do you make something you’d like to sell at a farmers market? First, you’ll want to make sure your offering is permissible under the Colorado Cottage Foods Act. If it is, then taking and passing this class will yield a three-year certification that meets the food safety training requirement for the Foods Act, established and supported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. You will learn food safety guidelines and the specifics for operating a small, home-based cottage food business. Training includes proper hygiene; preventing cross-contamination and cross-contact of food allergens; temperature control for safe food preparation; and storing, transporting and selling produce. You’ll receive instruction about product ingredient labeling, packaging requirements, marketing, preparation at altitude and how to go further with your business.

Participants who pass the test receive a CSU Extension Cottage Food Safety certificate to post for customers to see. They are also added to a CSU Extension Cottage Food Producers Listserv, which now has over 3,000 names on it. Participants receive updates via email as well as answers to questions that are posted by listserv members.

The class will be held April 22 at 10 a.m. Cost is $40. Preregistration is required by April 21.

Contact the writer: 636-0271.

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