- Author: Carol Michael
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Carol Michael UCCE Master Food Preserver
It's raining satsuma mandarins and lemons in my neighborhood. What can I do beyond making juice and eating them fresh? Tim C., San Luis Obispo
Just when we need color most to brighten the shorter days, citrus trees through the Central Coast are dripping with ripening fruit. The sunshine colors of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit are everywhere. Citrus, ripening to their sweetest and juiciest right now, are also abundant at farmers markets and grocery stores. Citrus fruits pack a potent dose of vitamin C and do double duty as a healthy snack during cold and flu season.
There are numerous ways to preserve familiar citrus: limes, lemons and grapefruit, as well as lesser known: blood oranges with their brilliant color and complex flavor; bite-size kumquats, with sweet edible peels; satsumas, a super-sweet tangerine with no seeds plus loose skins for easy peeling; and thin skinned Meyer lemons, often difficult to transport and store. Citrus and its juice can be made into marmalades, compotes, conserves, dried, candied, frozen, added to mustards, and salt preserved.
Too many lemons? Lemon curd is one tasty solution to your overflowing citrus wealth. Lemon curd, despite its curious name, is a thick, soft, and velvety cream with a tart yet sweet citrus flavor, cooked on the stovetop. No exotic ingredients required: just eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter. The same process can used to prepare lime curd, substituting lime juice and lime zest. Traditionally used as a spread for scones, citrus curds make a delicious filling or topping for tarts, pies, and cakes. Curds made from fresh lemon or lime juice are not safe to can in a boiling water canner due to the variability of their acidity. You must use bottled lemon or lime juice for those recipes. You can safely prepare and freeze curds made from fresh juice for up to one year.
Need more ideas? Check out the UC Master Food Preserver's California Citrus class on Saturday January 25, 2020, from 10:00 am to 12pm at UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. UC Master Food Preservers will share a variety of ways to preserve citrus for year-round enjoyment. Pre-registration is required, and class size is limited. Register at http://ucanr.edu/calicitrusClass fee is $10.00.
- Author: Ardis Neilsen
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Ardis Neilsen UCCE Master Gardener
Whether you want to learn how to prune your fruit trees or select new ones for your garden, come join us at the next “Advice to Grow By” lecture presented by University of California San Luis Obispo County Master Gardeners Jutta Thoerner and Rob Keim.
This free lecture,sponsored by the SLOCounty Master Gardener Program, is scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon in the UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo.
After the lecture, attendees will walk across the parking lot to the Garden of the Seven Sisters to view hands-on pruning demonstrations guided by Master Gardener Orchard Committee members. While in the garden, you can see more than 20 varieties of fruit trees which have been recently pruned.
Workshop presenters will teach you not only how to do winter pruning, but also how to appropriately choose fruit trees for your microclimate and grow healthy, bountiful trees.
“With several microclimates present on the Central Coast, choosing the right tree to plant in the right spot can be challenging,” said Thoerner. During the presentation, she will review the steps to make the selection process easier.
Keim will discuss pruning techniques and how to use and care for your pruning tools. He will explain why winter and summer pruning are necessary and the differences between them.
Additional topics include summer pruning, fertilizing, irrigating, chill hours, along with pest and disease management.
Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions.
Register now to reserve your space at ucanr.edu/sites/mgslo or call 805-781-5939 for more information.
- Author: Tami Reece
- Editor: Noni Todd
Food Safety Open House
By Tami Reece UCCE Master Food Preserver
Have you wondered how to make jam without cooking it or pickles in your refrigerator? Is it safe to preserve fresh salmon with a pressure canner? How do you make fruit leather and dried fruit for hiking snacks? All these questions and more can be answered at the UCCE Master Food Preserver Open House on Thursday January 16, 2020 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Open House will be in the UCCE Auditorium, 2156 Sierra Way in San Luis Obispo. Feel free to drop in for a few minutes or stay longer.
There is no formal class, but there will be several information stations for you to visit. You'll learn about what can safely be preserved in a pressure canner verses a boiling water canner. What's the difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker? Is it safe to use your new electric pressure cooker you received as a gift during the holidays as a canner?
A dehydrating station will be available to learn how to make yummy snacks and a freezing station to learn how to avoid freezer burn on that expensive cut of meat. How long does food last in a freezer anyway?
Making your own sourdough starter is very easy to do. Along with sauerkraut and kimchi, these are all fermented foods. Stop by the fermentation table if this topic interests you!
Sign up for our email list, we do not share and only send out a few emails each month. You will be one of the first notified about our upcoming workshops. Frequently our classes fill weeks before the workshop article prints in the newspaper and we no longer take walk-ins. You will also receive our monthly Pantry Press newsletter. It's filled with food safety tips, upcoming events, and what the UC Master Food Preservers are doing to help keep our community food safe!
Have you wondered what a UC Master Food Preserver is or how to become a volunteer? You're in luck! There will be a training session starting soon and all the information needed to join will be available at the Open House. Master Food Preservers will be available to answer questions and share how they have helped the community by teaching food safety and preservation methods throughout San Luis Obispo County.
For more information visit our website http://ucanr.edu/masterfoodpreserverprogram
- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Planting area: USDA 6-9
Size: Average 6-12 feet, generally shaped as shrub or tree
Bloom Season: December through Mid-Spring, depending on species
Exposure: bright, indirect light; tolerates early morning sun with afternoon shade
Pruning needs: annually, after blooms are finished
Water needs: weekly once plants are established
Choose this plant when you want a shrub or hedge with dark, glossy leaves and showy, cool-season blossoms. Native to Southeast Asia, two of the more common species are C. Japonica (pictured) and C. Sasanqua. Blossoms (2.5-5 inches in diameter) come in a variety of colors, including white, pinks and reds.
Camellias require slightly acidic soil (ph 5.5-6.5), and protection from direct, hot sun and drying winds. Plant in well-drained soil, amended with organic matter. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and two inches deeper. Backfill the bottom of the hole by two inches, then set the root ball on top so it's above ground level. Replace dirt around the root ball, then mulch the area, staying two inches away from trunk, to conserve soil moisture and manage weeds. Create a circular ridge 2-3 feet from the plant to contain water. Water thoroughly, but don't allow standing water. Water consistently until the roots are established and plant shows signs of growth, then soak one time per week to encourage deeper root growth. Avoid overhead irrigation.
Fertilize with an acid-based plant food spring through summer. Follow label instructions to avoid overfertilizing.
Prune annually after blooms are spent to remove dead or weak wood, thin growth in the center of the plant to allow more light to penetrate, to control size and shape of the plant and to promote next years' flower production. Shorten branches to encourage upright growth and prune top growth to make lanky shrubs bushier.
Monitor Camellias regularly to spot signs of browning of blossoms (Camellia blight), sunburn, or the presence of insects such as aphids, scale, and mealybugs. Be diligent about picking up blooms when they drop and replacing mulch (2-3 inches) each spring to prevent fungal disease.
- Author: Leslie Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Planting area: Sunset zones 7 - 24; USDA Hardiness Zones 8 – 11
Size: Moderate growth to 8 – 35 feet tall and wide
Bloom season: Fall and winter
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning Needs: Minimal pruning is needed except to maintain a certain height or shape, or to remove damaged branches.
Water needs: This tree requires moderate water the first year or two. Once established, it is fairly drought tolerant.
Snapshot: When searching for the perfect landscape tree, Strawberry Madrone often tops the list. This attractive evergreen member of the Ericaceae family is native to Southern Europe, making it well suited to the Central Coast's Mediterranean climate.
Handsome dark green, oblong-shaped leaves fill the tree's rounded canopy year-round. Autumn ushers in a special treat when small urn-shaped white or pink blooms and small yellow-to-red fruits decorate the tree. The fruits resemble small strawberries and are edible, but are considered rather mealy tasting to many people.
Bees, birds and butterflies, however, seem to find the tree's offerings irresistible. Hummingbirds in particular are regular visitors during the flowering and fruiting season.
In addition to their good looks, strawberry trees tolerate a range of growing conditions-- wind, light frosts, salt and a variety of soils, although they perform best in slightly acidic soils.
On the downside, Arbutus is susceptible to scale, thrips, Anthracnose, Phytophthora, root rot and rust.
Strawberry tree fruits have been used for making jams, yogurt and alcoholic beverages. Its leaves also are used in some herbal medicines.