Around the Home: Fresh, economical produce can be saved for winter

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Ah, July … it brings back memories of helping mother can and freeze copious amounts of fresh-from-the-field vegetables and fruits.

We didn’t have a garden, but mother knew every truck farmer for miles around. Without warning, she would arrive home with four or more bushels of speckled butter beans and purple-hull peas, etc. We canned tomatoes, but all else was tucked away into two deep freezers.

One time, she brought home the usual 4 to 6 bushels of vegetables plus 2,000 ears of the sweetest corn you’ve ever tasted. As you can imagine, the next 24 to 36 hours were spent shelling, shucking, blanching and packing all of that goodness for the freezer.

Navigating life in these precarious economic times has encouraged a lot of people to grow their own vegetables or seek the freshest local produce to “put up” for those cold winter days when economical fresh produce may be hard to find.

You don’t have to go far to find fresh vegetables and fruit in this area. In Hall County alone, we have three farmers markets: Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Hall County Farmers Market on Jesse Jewell just inside Interstate 985, open early morning until sellout; the Spout Springs Library Farmers Market 4-7 p.m. on Thursdays; and the Gainesville Market on the Square from 2:30-6 p.m. Fridays.

Right now you’ll find onions, all kinds of tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, squash, zucchini, peppers, okra, corn, beets, leeks, carrots, eggplant, cabbage, mushrooms and garlic.

Fruits include watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, blueberries, and peaches. Extras often include cage-free eggs; homemade breads, muffins and baked goods; fresh cut flowers and potted plants; plus fresh pecans, walnuts and local honey.

You will also want the latest information about safely canning, freezing or drying foods. The National Center for Home Food Preservation is based at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension and can be accessed online: http://www.homefoodpreservation.com

Check out a free, self-paced, online course for those wanting to learn more about home canning and preservation: “Introduction to Food Preservation.” The course is offered in the University of Georgia eLC system. UGA requires registration for you to receive a login. The registration link can be found at www.homefoodpreservation.com.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is pleased to offer the fifth edition of its popular book, “So Easy To Preserve.”

This beautiful book contains the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for safe food preservation. “So Easy To Preserve” is now a 375-page book with more than 185 tested recipes, along with step-by-step instructions and in-depth information for both the new and experienced food preserver.

The book covers canning, pickled products, jellies, jams, freezing and drying foods. Each section includes frequently asked questions and remedies for problems.

This fifth edition has 35 new tested recipes and processes, plus a new section with recommended procedures for home-canned salsas.

Sold for $18 each, “So Easy To Preserve” is available in the Hall County Cooperative Extension Office, as well as some other county Extension offices. A mail order form may be printed out from the food preservation site as well.

Attention budding artists

The 2012 Hall County Radon Poster Contest opens Aug. 5.

Any student 9-14 years old enrolled in public or private school, home schooled, or who belongs to a sponsoring club: art, computer science, scouts or 4-H club, etc., is eligible to enter.

On Aug. 5, look for links to detailed contest information, rules and entry forms at www.hall
county4h.info.

Ginger Bennett is county extension agent in family and consumer science with the Hall County Extension. Her Family Ties column appears in Sunday Life on the first Sunday of each month and on gainesvilletimes.com. Contact: 770-535-8290.

source:  gainesvilletimes.com

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