- Author: Noni Todd
Christmas In July
By Tami Reece Master Food Preserver
I am always so busy during the holidays. Are there gifts I can make now that I can give in December?
Courtney M. Paso Robles
There are so many foods that can be preserved now and given as gifts later. One advantage to preserving now is the produce is in season, fresh, and can be purchased locally at farmers' markets or often on sale at grocery stores.
An easy gift and great way to use ripe fruit are fruit rolls or fruit leather. Wash the fruit in cool water. Remove peels, stems, and seeds. Cut fruit into chunks and puree until smooth. For light colored fruit, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice for each 2 cups of fruit to prevent darkening when drying. Pour onto liners or parchment paper in your dehydrator or onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet for your oven. Leathers need to be dried at 140°F. If your oven does not have a setting that low, it is best not to use it. You will cook the leather rather than drying it when using a higher temperature, trapping moisture in the product. Leather dries from the outside edge toward the center. Test for dryness by touching center, no indentation should be evident. While warm, peel from liner or paper and roll, allow to cool and wrap in plastic wrap. Leather will last for up to one month on your shelf; but for longer storage, it is best to store in a sealed container in the freezer.
A flavorful gift idea is Peach Salsa, and with peaches in season, now is the perfect time to preserve with boiling water canning! You can pair this salsa with chips and other items for a great gift basket. If you would like to see how to make Peach Salsa, the UCCE Master Food Preservers will be having a Saturday workshop on July 28, from 10:00am to 12:00pm. It will be in the auditorium adjacent to the parking lot at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Another great gift idea that will be demonstrated is drying herbs. You can use these herbs in homemade preserved tomato sauce. Pair this with fresh pasta and a baguette from a local producer or your favorite grocery store, and you will have a gift anyone would love!
To register for the workshop please visit http://ucanr.edu/holidaysinjuly2018