- Author: jennie cook
The exciting part is taking advantage of seasonal abundance. Who can resist a case of anything at $10? Especially when it's these crazy kiwis from Soledad Farms at the Hollywood Farmer's Market.
I set the timer according to the directions and the next day I had amazingly tangy kiwi candy. It's addictive and intriguing with it's thin, translucent appearance and dynamic black seeds.
Today, I'm drying some organic orange peel to grind into powder to use instead of fresh zest in one of our vegan cookie recipes...
I'll keep you posted.
- Author: Sarah A Spitz
I just received this USDA blog post via email. As a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver certified by LA County, I find myself having to explain that yes, we are administered by UC ANR but that the USDA is the umbrella under which all states' county extension agents operate, and under whose guidance our Food Safety Advisor recommendations are made, when we go out and teach methods of food preservation in the community.
I found this post to be a helpful primer on what your County Extension Agent does and why so I wanted to share it with all of you.
I hope you'll find it helpful and informative.
Here's the opening paragraph: read the complete story at the link...
As USDA celebrates 150 years of serving American agriculture and rural communities, it is important to remember the enormous contribution of the Cooperative Extension Service, a three-way partnership between USDA and our state and county partners that forms a nationwide network of expertise. These experts work with Americans on issues that relate to a wide range of topics including: agriculture, natural resource management, nutrition, youth development, community empowerment, household and family budgeting, and disaster assistance, among others.
- Author: jennie cook
It's that time of year when all the Master Food Preservers get marmalade fever. It is a banner year for citrus here in Southern California and getting sweeter every week.
(Sweet oranges make cloudy marmalade)
- Posted By: Sarah A Spitz
- Written by: Sarah Spitz
Our Silent Auction is indebted to the contributions made by the manufacturer of the All-American Pressure Canner (21.5 QT), a donated item of great value which launched a bidding frenzy; and the Thermoworks Thermapen and 2 Pocket Thermometers fetched higher-than-retail bids.
The donations also came from classmates, including a two hour Indian food class, lovely gift bags from SQIRL and Santa Monica Farmers Markets, an amazing lamb cake mold, delicious preserved jams, butters and jellies, exquisite cheeses paired with wines, books and more. We had a demonstration of antique mason jars as well, and what a beautiful sight they were!
PS: that cake (not preserved!) was baked by Chef Ernest Miller, of Hollywood Farmers Kitchen, without whom the program would not have been revived. We also thank UCCE's Dr. Rachel Surls for providing the means to make its revival a reality.
Now it's up to us, the graduates, to grow it and share it with our community. I have just graduated with a class of remarkable people -- we'll make it happen!
- Author: Brenda Roche
This time of year, many food preservation enthusiasts are hard at work in their kitchens canning, freezing, drying and fermenting. They are scouring their recipe books (USDA approved, of course!) for interesting and delicious ways to take fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness and preserve them so they may be enjoyed year-round. For the home food preserver, this hard work will pay off for months to come, and lucky family members and friends will delight in the delicious gifts that are sure to come their way.
When we think of preserved food, however, we often conjure up thoughts of sticky, sweet jams and jellies and salty pickles and sauerkraut. The treats from the kitchen of a home food preserver are tasty, but it's not exactly health food, right? Well, you might be surprised to learn that this is not necessarily the case.
The many benefits of fermentation
Typical fermented foods include yogurt, soy sauce, miso, tempeh, buttermilk, pickles and sauerkraut. Fermented foods have been used for centuries in almost every culture for long- term food storage, to flavor foods and in times of food shortages. These foods offer a wide variety of health benefits due to the process of fermentation, which actually increases nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B12, nicotinic acid, riboflavin, and thiamine. Fermented foods also have "friendly bacteria" or probiotics, that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in our gut. More research is needed in this area, but some studies show promising results in treating bowel diseases and stimulating the immune system with probiotics. Additionally, the process of fermentation partially brakes down lactose, making it easier for lactose-intolerant people to consume milk-based products such as yogurt.
When food is cooked, dried, frozen and reheated, there is always a loss of nutrients.
Vitamins A, C and B are often degraded through the cooking process, however, some cooked vegetables actually supply more cancer-fighting antioxidants than their raw forms.
For instance, researchers at Cornell University found that heat from cooking actually increases lycopene content and overall antioxidant activity in tomatoes. Lycopene is a naturally occurring chemical (or "phytochemical") found in tomatoes that decreases risk of cancer and heart disease. So what does this mean, exactly? Is it better to eat our veggies raw or cooked? Well, raw tomatoes are undoubtedly a great source of Vitamin C, but it's also a good idea to eat some canned or cooked tomatoes to benefit from the high levels of lycopene and antioxidant activity. This is true for many other vegetables in our diet, as well.
What about all that sugar and salt?
Sure, jams and jellies are often made with a good amount of sugar, and we need to use salt to ferment pickles and sauerkraut, but there are ways to preserve food without high amounts of salt or sugar.
We can't remove the sodium from fermented pickles or sauerkraut (unless we rinse them before eating), but sodium can be removed from fresh-pack pickles. You can find delicious, low-sodium recipes on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/diet_pick.html). One concern we may have about canned vegetables (whether homemade or store bought) is that they are often high in sodium. Well, the salt in canned food is only used to season the food, it is not necessary for safety. So, if you desire to keep sodium levels low, you can omit the salt when canning and use salt substitutes when you're ready to eat the food. Cooking with garlic and fresh or dried herbs is also great way to add flavor to a low-sodium canned food.
There are a variety of fruit spreads that can be made lower in sugar and calories than regular jams and jellies. There are also two types of modified pectin that can be used that require less sugar. Recipes for low-sugar fruit spreads can be found on the National Center for Home Food Preservation website (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can7_jam_jelly.html).
You can also use gelatin as a thickening agent in low-sugar recipes, but these fruit spreads must be refrigerated and used within a month or so, rather than canned for long-term storage.
Fruits can also be canned more healthfully in water or 100% fruit juices, rather than sugary syrups. These fruits must be ripe but firm and prepared as a hot pack. Refer to the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for more information. Splenda is the only sugar substitute that can be added to covering liquids before canning fruits. Other sugar substitutes can be added when serving.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor
The next time you enjoy a jar of home canned vegetables or fermented pickles, think cancer- fighting antioxidants and friendly bacteria for your gut. Not only are you consuming produce that was preserved at the peak of its freshness, but you are certainly doing your body some good!