From the UC Blogosphere...
By Rosemary Orr UCCE Master Food Preserver
How can I safely preserve summer tomatoes?
Welcome to August in San Luis Obispo County, well into the peak harvest time for locally grown tomatoes. In our garden, we have an abundance of tomatoes until October. They ripen so fast, I can hardly keep up. All summer long we make bruschetta, salsa, sauces, tomato sandwiches, tomato soup, tomato chutney… you get the picture. By the end of September, we are still going “totally tomatoes” in our garden and spend a weekend canning, freezing and dehydrating (drying) the remainder of our tomato crop. If you don't grow your own, farmers' markets or your grocery store will sell you cases of these beauties for you to preserve. One of my favorite cooking tomatoes is the Italian plum, also called Roma or paste tomatoes. Italian plum tomatoes have the fewest seeds, a firm texture, and make thick, rich tomato sauces. If you have beefsteak or heirloom, it's no problem. Different tomato varieties have different characteristics, so consider several types of tomatoes to add depth of flavor to your product. Fortunately, many canning recipes call for plain, ripe tomatoes; therefore, you can preserve your bounty of tomatoes, whichever varieties you may have available.
When processing in a boiling water canner or pressure canner, tomatoes must be acidified by adding bottled lemon juice, bottled lime juice, citric acid or commercial vinegar (with at least 5% acidity). The acidity in commercial products is standardized. However, in fresh lemons, limes or homemade vinegar, the acidity will vary and therefore is not reliable for use in home preserving. To safely preserve tomatoes using any method of preservation; canning, freezing or drying, always use a scientifically tested recipe from a reliable source.
At the U.C.C.E. Master Food Preserver class this Saturday, August 26, you can learn how to can whole tomatoes, salsa, and spicy tomato juice using a traditional boiling water canning method. In addition, Certified Master Food Preservers will discuss how to freeze and dry your own tomatoes. The workshop will be held from 10:00am until 12:00pm in the U.C.C.E. Auditorium located at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. There is a $5.00 fee. You can register online at
Are you interested in being a UCCE Master Gardener but need more information? Join us at the New Master Gardener Class Informational Meeting on Thursday, September 14th from 1-3 in the UCCE auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.
Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Help Desk with the photo of your little sprout. By the shape of its leaves, it does appear to be a deciduous oak tree, probably the result of an acorn buried by an industrious squirrel.
The sapling is too small at this point to determine which one it is. California is the home of 21 native live oak trees, and that number doesn't include the many non-native oak trees that people have planted in their gardens. Given that the tree was probably planted by a local squirrel, you might want to look around your neighborhood and see if there is another oak tree that resembles yours. If you like the appearance of the possible parent tree and the location of this one, you might consider letting it grow up a bit more and see what you think.
Below is a link to information about oak identification including drawings and descriptions of oak leaves, bark and acorns: http://ucanr.edu/sites/oak_range/Californias_Rangeland_Oak_Species/
The UC ANR also has a downloadable free publication for homeowners with helpful advice about oak tree management: http://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/21538.pdf
We look forward to hearing from you about any questions you have concerning your home garden and landscape.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (RSB)
Please Join us at "Fall for Plants" on September 9 for the workshops and the plant sale,.
Registration is optional, but it'll get you a free plant from the sale. Hope to see you there.
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925)646-6586, email: email@example.com, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)./span>
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