Courses and resources for your home or  business to help ensure food is prepared, stored, and served safely.


 home canning

Home Food Preservation Resources

Food Preservation Fridays

Are you a new food preserver or interested in a refresher on safe techniques? While we can't always preserve together at the moment, we would like to invite you into our Extension home kitchens to learn from MSU Extension food preservers about the science and strategies behind safe and delicious research-based preservation best practices!  Access the Food Preservation Fridays Series Here


Food preservation has spanned generations and millennia as a way to safely enjoy quality seasonal food throughout the year.  

Proper canning preserves food from spoilage and destroys microorganisms that could cause foodborne illness for you, a family member, or others consuming these foods. To ensure SAFE food preservation, MSU Extension recommends ONLY using up-to-date, research-tested recipes exactly when home canning or preserving foods. Save non-research approved or family recipes for eating immediately or freezing.

“When in doubt”, to test your pressure canner yearly, to find a food preservation class (available in some counties), or for other food preservation questions contact your local MSU Extension county office!

Resources and publications provided here have been developed or reviewed for research-based information by MSU Extension Food & Nutrition Specialists and Agents.

If you have questions please contact your local MSU Extension county office.

How do I use a waterbath canner, pressure canner, or atmospheric steam canner?

MSU Extension has created many MontGuides detailing safe processes for preserving foods using these canning tools. 

Each MSU Extension Montguide may be viewed online, as a downloadable pdf, or may be ordered, free of charge, from MSU Extension Publications with details found at each link below. These publications may also be available in-person at your local MSU Extension county office in some locations! 

View and/or Download Available Food and Nutrition Montguides

Can I convert my dial gauge canner to a weighted gauge canner?

Yes, you can.  There are a few things to keep in mind when converting your canner.  First, you should always repair or replace your canner with parts made for your specific brand of canner.

Presto manufactured canners branded as National, Magic Seal (for Montgomery Ward) and Maid of Honor (for Sears) so Presto parts will fit these canners.  Other canners should use replacement parts from their specific manufacturer. 

How do I attach my weighted gauge?

For Presto dial gauge canners, the weighed gauge will be a substitute for the pressure regulator (weight) already on the canner.  In the case of older, heavier cast aluminum pressure canners, you will need to replace the vent pipe to put on the weighed gauge.  For processing times and pressures, follow the new weighted gauge, and not the dial gauge. Contact Presto or your canner manufacturer for assistance. 

Can I use one-piece or reusable lids?

The latest recommendations are to use a two-piece, one-time-use lid system.  One-piece and reusable lids may not be reliable and research has indicated they may be more likely to fail to seal properly. So Easy to Preserve (2014) states, “The lid choice itself (e.g., two-piece metal, plastic or one-piece metal lids) does not affect the microbiological safety of the canning process.  The issues become ease of use, success in sealing and maintenance of vacuum and food quality during storage.”  The safety of your product may be at risk if you use a one-piece lid.  Currently there is just not enough research to prove the reliability and effectiveness of a one-piece or reusable lid system.

Can I use my pressure canner as a water bath canner?

Yes, you can.  The pressure canner safety valve (overpressure plug) should be removed and the pressure regulator should remain off the vent pipe. You may place the lid on just as you would for pressure canning.  By leaving the vent open and removing the safety valve it allows steam to escape and not build pressure, so your pressure canner would work like a water bath canner.  See more about water bath canning methods in our MSU Extension MontGuide: Home Canning Using Boiling Water Canners and Pressure Canners MT200905HR  

Author: Holly Miner; Reviewed: Brianna Routh and Nori Pearce, May 2020

Why is it necessary to add bottled lemon juice or citric acid to some home canned tomato recipes?

Tomatoes have a pH (acid) level that is often just above the line dividing high-acid foods and low-acid foods. It is important for the safety and quality of tomato recipes that the acidity level is high enough to use a water bath cannning process.  Foods low in acidity must be pressure canned. Since many factors can decrease the natural acidity in tomatoes, adding bottled lemon juice or citric acid helps ensure the correct acid level. Bottled lemon juice must be used because its acid level is consistent. Fresh lemons should NOT be substituted for bottled because it might have varying levels of acidity.

Recipes that include an adequate amount of vinegar (5% acidity) do not require additional acid, such as salsa, tomato chutney, and pickled tomatoes.

How can I determine if the home canning recipes received from friends and family are safe to use?

For safety, you must use up-to-date recipes that are research-tested and approved for home canning in a water bath canner. Research-tested recipes may be found through your Extension office or at approved resources provided in the next question. We do not recommend using the manufacturer instruction booklet or other recipe sources as they may not be research-tested or meet up-to-date USDA guidelines for home consumer use. While many recipes passed down through family generations may taste good, they are not always tested for canning safety. Even if no one has gotten sick before, it is critical to use the recommended, up-to-date, research-based food preservation resources located in this publication. Protect yourself and others when sharing home-canned foods by using research-tested recipes exactly. Save family or non-research approved recipes for immediate eating, refrigerating, or freezing!

What are MSU Extension approved resources for recipes?

MSU Extension has created many MontGuides detailing safe processes including recipes for preserving a variety of foods. 

Each MSU Extension Montguide may be viewed online, as a downloadable pdf, or may be ordered, free of charge, from MSU Extension Publications with details found at each link below. These publications may also be available in-person at your local MSU Extension county office in some locations! 

View and/or Download Available Food and Nutrition Montguides

Additionally, we recommend the following resources as providing

National Center for Home Food Preservation

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning 2015 (free downloadable pdf)

Author: Holly Miner; Reviewed: Brianna Routh and Nori Pearce, May 2020

  Canning Freezing Drying
Major equipment needed Canners, canning jars and lids Freezer, packaging materials Dehydrator, if used (could be done outdoors in low humidity or in an oven)
Energy requirements Relatively low, if recommended precedures are followed Relatively high (storage requires energy) Low for dehydrator or sun drying; higher for oven drying
Preparation time Long Medium Short
Processing Time  Medium-Long Short Long
Resemblance of preserved vegetable to fresh vegetable Some losses of vitamins and minerals, especially when liquid is discarded Closest to nutrient value of fresh product Losses of vitamins A and C, but sulfuring helps protect against this
Serving convenience High High Medium
Source: So Easy to Preserve Version 6




 food safety

Food Safety

You can help prevent foodborne illness in your home, business and community.

MSU Extension, in cooperation with other certified instructors and agencies, is pleased to offer in-person food safety trainings and resources in accordance with state of Montana guidance. Additionally, see information below regarding three Montana approved online food safety trainings.

State Food Safety

State Food Safety Website

Online certification training with online proctored exam costs $124.00

8 hours of mobile-friendly online training, a free practice test and an online proctored exam.

State Food Safety Food Safety Manager Certification Information 

How to take the food manager certification exam while social distancing

Information for online proctored exam


Learn2Serve food manager certification course information

Montana Learn2Serve Food Manager Certification Course information

Cost is $99.00

Take an 8-hour online training course that reviews the food safety principles you need to know to pass the exam, as well as prevent foodborne illnesses. The Food Protection Manager Certification Exam is proctored online using the webcam on the computer. The exam will be proctored by one of our online proctors. Our online proctoring is available Monday – Friday between 7am to 10pm (CST). To access your exam, simply launch the course in the 360training LMS and follow the steps provided.  Detailed instructions for the online exam


Servsafe website

Offers online Manager Certification Training; not offering online proctoring for online exams at this time.

Cost for online training and online exam voucher $152.92

Must complete the online course within 90 days of launching it.

No time limit between completing the class and taking the certification exam (The online exam voucher does not expire.)

Professionals take the online training, then they need to find their own proctor to oversee the online exam.

       Options for finding a proctor to administer the online exam:

  1. Contact your local county Extension Agent
  2. Contact your local county Health Department, Registered Sanitarian
  3. Use the Find a Proctor tool on the Montana Department of Health and Human Services website (please note, this list may not include all proctors).
  4. Use the zip code search tool to find a proctor near you on the ServSafe website.

National Registry of Food Safety Professionals

Visit the Exam Center for all information and links

Offers online Manager Certification Training and online proctored exam

Food Manager Certification training –easy, flexible training options, including self-study and online courses

Food Safety Manager Certification Training Information

NRFSP Online Training Portal                         

Certification is good for 3 years

Offers 2 self-study courses (via printed study guides) to prepare for the exam –

Each study guide costs <$30.00; online proctored exam costs $34.00= total cost $64.00  


Prometric Website

Prometric Food Safety Testing

Prometric Certified Professional Food Manager Exam 

Online proctoring available

SURE Food Safety Manager Online Course w/ Exam Option online training costs $135.00 plus cost of the manual $26.95 = total $161.95

Paster Training Inc.

Paster Training Home

Paster Food and Beverage Safety Training Information

SURE Food Safety Manager Online Training and Exam

Many in-person trainings have been canceled or postponed due to the current public health COVID-19 situation.  See online training and exam options above or contact your local Extension or Sanitarian to see if they are able to proctor in-person Servsafe exams at this time. Please note, while the Serv Safe certification course has typically been the most common choice in Montana, any of the above online Manager certification options are approved for use in Montana. 

Check out listing for upcoming classes through MSU Extension or partner agencies in your area. Contact your local Sanitarian in your county Environmental Health office to determine if there are other course options not listed. 


Sept 20 (register by Sept 1)

Oct 20 (registration opens Oct 1 for this course)

8-hour Servsafe Food Manager Certification Course 

MSU Extension, Stillwater County 
Fee $100 

Find details and register online with this form

17 N. 4th Street
P.O. Box 807
Columbus, MT 59019

Tel: (406) 322-8035

Aug 30
Sept 12
Oct 24
Nov 15
Dec 13

8:30 am - 5 pm.

cascade serv safe flyer

8-hour Servsafe Food Manager Certification Course (course is one day only, offered monthly through the year)

MSU Extension, Cascade County 

3300 3rd St. NE #9 Great Falls

Fee $125 food will not be provided (you will have an hour for lunch on your own)

register online  or contact Katrin Finch: or
call 406-454-6980

Upon Request

8-hour Servsafe Manager or 4-hour Food handler

Musselshell-Golden Valley County

Contact Jennifer (Fosjord) Solf

204 8th Avenue East

Roundup, MT 59072

Office: (406) 323-2704

Cell: (406) 366-6475

Upon Request

8-hour Servsafe Manager
4-hour Food handler

Richland County
Stephanie Ler at 406-433-2207 or Carrie Krug at 406-433-1206

Upon Request

8-hr Servsafe Food Manager
4-hr Servesafe Food handler

Mike Callaghan



ServSafe is a nationally recognized food safety training program for the food service industry personnel. Created and managed by the National Restaurant Association, it combines critical information, exclusive tools, and real-world resources to transform knowledge into action. ServSafe has evolved to meet the most urgent food safety training challenges in the food service industry and offers the highest standard of food safety training and certification.


Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services provides guidance and FAQ’s around the registration and appropriate sale of homemade or home-canned foods. Contact your local Sanitarian in your county Environmental Health office for specific cottage food guidance in your county. For assistance with cottage food label development (available in some counties) or answering food preparation questions your local MSU Extension agent.

MT DPHHS Cottage Food Resources