- Author: Lynn Pastusak, MFP Volunteer
- Editor: Shannon Klisch
If you have a garden or compost bin, you probably have plant volunteers. What is a plant volunteer? Any type of plant that grows somewhere you did not intentionally plant it. That's what happened to Master Food Preserver, Lynn Pastusak. Below, Lynn walks us through how she preserved her unexpected harvest so it wouldn't go to waste.
Dehydrating is one of the oldest forms of food preservation and is very easy to do.
Dehydration (drying) pulls out enough water from food to prevent spoilage.
While it is possible to sun dry some foods or even use your oven as a dehydrator, the simplest and most fool-proof method is to use an electric dehydrator. If you don't already have one, I recommend getting one. They are relatively inexpensive, starting around $40 for a simple but reliable model, and they can save you time and money if you plan to start dehydrating on a regular basis. Look for one that has a temperature control setting between 130° and 150° (mine is from 105° to 165°), a fan to circulate warm air evenly, and trays that are easy to load and clean.
The steps for dehydrating cherry tomatoes are easy.
- Wash your hands and clean all your utensils and trays.
- Preheat the dehydrator to 140°F.
- Rinse the tomatoes and remove the stems.
- Cut tomatoes in half.
- Place tomatoes skin side down on a dehydrator tray. If you would like, you can sprinkle a little salt on them.
- Dry for 5-9 hours. Times may vary depending on the humidity and heat in your area.
- After about 4 hours, start checking them regularly. They are done when they are leathery or brittle. If you want to grind them to make a powder, you'll want them crispy.
Tips from Lynn:
Proper storage is critical to keep tomatoes from re-hydrating and molding. A few options I have used: 1) Vacuum seal them and store them in the freezer, 2) seal them in freezer bags, put the bags in tightly sealed jars, and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer. As long as they are in an air-tight container, they can also be stored at cool to room temperature in a dark location - like a closet. For best quality, use them within 1 year.
What to do with your dried tomatoes:
They are tasty to eat alone as a snack. They can also be added to soups, salads, pastas, sauces, and casseroles. If dried crisp, they can be ground in a food processor or blender and used in recipes like you would use tomato paste. Yum!
Interested in learning more about drying and preserving foods?
- Author: Cari Curtis, Master Food Preserver
- Editor: Shannon Klisch
The end of summer is fast approaching and if you have fruit trees, you might have a load of stone fruit on your hands. What to do with all of that bounty? Cari Curtis, Master Food Preserver with San Luis Obispo County walks us through the process of making delicious honey dipped nectarines in the dehydrator. Recipe source: So Easy to Preserve, University of Georgia Extension, Copyright 2014.
- Author: Dayna Ravalin, UCCE Master Food Preserver Coordinator
Getting ready for all the wonderful pickles you'll be making this summer? Join us for a brief update on making perfect pickles with fresh ingredients from you garden, farmer's market, a CSA box, or the grocery store! We will have a Master Food Preserver dedicated on the session to answer any of your preservation questions. See you Saturday!
Here is the link to join our FREE live event:
- Author: Jennifer Codron, UCCE Master Food Preserver, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties
- Editor: Dayna Ravalin, UCCE Master Food Preserver Program Coordinator
- Editor: Katherine Soule, Youth, Families, and Communities Advisor
It's that time of year again when the strawberries on the Central Coast of California ripen in the fields and the markets begin bursting with flats of these juicy red berries. Why not savor the fresh delicious taste of these berries year-round by making some strawberry jam?
Because the strawberries I purchase are usually picked at their peak ripeness, I usually opt for a low sugar pectin when I make my jam. I do not miss the extra sugar from the regular pectin recipe since the sweetness of the fresh berries shines through.
Before you begin make sure your work area is clean as well as your utensils and canning equipment. Wash your hands thoroughly in warm soapy water for at least 20seconds. Sterilize your canning jars in your water bath canner and wash bands. Use new sealing lids for each jar.
Gather your strawberries, wash, remove stems measure amount needed and roughly chop. Place measured amount into pan.
Add water or fruit juice as directed by the recipe.
Gradually stir in pectin.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring constantly.
Add sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil hard for 1 minute, again stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and ladle into jars leaving ¼ inch headspace.
Run the de-bubbler down the sides of the jar to eliminate any air bubbles, and then re-measure the headspace and adjust accordingly. Using a damp paper towel, wipe rims of jars. Apply lids and screw on bands until fingertip tight.
Process jars for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.
Remove hot jars and let cool on the counter untouched. Check for lid sealing after 24 hours. If any have not sealed, place in the refrigerator and enjoy right away. Please label and date jars that have sealed and place in cupboard and use within one year.
You may find the recipe for traditional strawberry jam here: National Center for Home Food Preservation | How Do I? Jam and Jelly (uga.edu) If you decide that you too would like to make a lower sugar jam, just look for Low or No Sugar Pectin to use and follow the manufacturer's directions. Enjoy this springtime fruit throughout the year!
Photo credits: Jennifer Codron
- Author: Cari Curtis, UCCE Master Food Preserver of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties
- Author: Dayna Ravalin, UCCE Master Food Preserver Program Coordinator
Spring has arrived! As the days & nights grow warmer, more colors appear in fruit trees and flowers. For UCCE Master Food Preservers, the onset of Spring ignites visions of gardens and re-stocked shelves of freshly preserved foods.
Preserving foods has been an important part of many kitchens for years. With the onset of the pandemic, more people have discovered the joy of preserving their own food. It's both satisfying and comforting to have the knowledge and the ambition to turn fresh foods into preserved foods whether it be through canning, dehydration, freezing or smoking. The process completes all our senses from start to finish. It is important to remember preserving foods safely is the foundation of what a UCCE Master Food Preserver teaches. Preserving foods using the right equipment, tested recipes and procedures, and fresh foods will help you achieve success and decrease the chance of foodborne illness! Those of you who have been preserving for years, know what I'm talking about. For those of you who have only had minimal experience or none, but you want to start, I have an opportunity just for you!
Learning how to preserve foods safely is key to your success. The UCCE Master Food Preserver Program is launching a new project called “Ask a Master Food Preserver”. Every 4th Saturday of the month @ 10AM beginning April 24, certified Master Food Preservers will host a live 30-minute Zoom meeting with the purpose of guiding you through the safe steps of preservation and answer any questions you may have.
The first session is called “Getting Started with Canning Basics”. This is a great introduction or refresher (for those of you who may have some canning experience) incorporating safe canning practices, needed equipment and a few recipes! It's online and FREE! Use this link and join us: https://ucanr.zoom.us/j/99190452915?pwd=djZMQ2ZXWWhwTmh3REYwczJoWFlwQT09
The series of topics to be covered are designed to follow the natural progression of preserving as we go through the season. There will be numerous sessions focused on “Preserving Safely” and a series titled “When things go Wrong”. We hope you join us and look forward to helping you achieve success safely with your upcoming preservation projects.