- Author: Carol Michael
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Carol Michael UCCE Master Food Preserver
What are ways to use some of my jams and jellies during the holidays? David C.-Paso Robles
Sparkling colorful pepper jelly with cream cheese and crackers has been a favorite holiday appetizer. It is traditionally made with sweet green and hot peppers. By following a similar procedure, you can make Red Pepper or Golden Pepper Jelly. Get the recipe here: https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE07_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf
This traditional Pepper Jelly from So Easy to Preserve, by Cooperative Extension, The University of Georgia makes 5 half pint jars.
4-5 hot peppers, cored and cut in pieces
4 sweet green peppers, cored and cut in pieces
1 cup white vinegar (5% acidity)
5 cups sugar
1 pouch liquid pectin; green food coloring (optional)
Sterilize canning jars. (Sterilize jars by placing right side up on rack of boiling water canner. Fill with hot water to 1” above jar tops. Boil 10 minutes at altitudes less than 1000ft. Add one minute for each additional 1,000ft. of elevation.)
Wear rubber gloves when working with hotpeppers. Put half the peppers and half the vinegar in a blender, cover, and process until peppers are finely liquified. Repeat with remaining peppers and vinegar. Combine liquefied peppers and vinegar with sugar in large saucepot & boil slowly for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add liquid pectin, return to heat and boil hard for 1 minute. Skim and add few drops of green food coloring, if desired. Pour jelly immediately into hot canning jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath at altitudes less than 1,000ft. For high altitude canning adjustments: https://www.freshpreserving.com/adjust-high-altitude-canning.html
It is easy to make for gifting and a handy ingredient in other dishes. Try one of these as a creative recipe twist:
Spicy PB & J sandwich: Substitute pepper jelly for a fruit version.
Stir- Fry: Sauté chicken slices in vegetable oil, add fresh or frozen stir-fry veggies, season with teriyaki sauce and red pepper flakes, finish by swirling in pepper jelly until melted.
Glazed Salmon: Mix bourbon liquor, melted butter and pepper jelly until smooth. Spread over salmon and cook until done.
Sweet & Sour Pork: Cube pork into ½” pieces, brown in a skillet. Meanwhile, mix small amount pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and pepper jelly until smooth. Add to browned pork, stir, simmer, and serve.
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- Author: Becky Zelinski
- Editor: Noni Todd
Becky's Garden Gives!
By Becky Zelinksi UCCE Master Gardener
I made a recent connection with Paso Cares, an organization that feeds the homeless here in Paso. I have about a 1-acre vegetable garden. I expanded it this year because I had leftover seedlings from last year. I can't ever throw a plant away so I decided to just plant them out in an empty pasture area.
I added a couple of drip lines, added a little bit of soil amendments (not much) and plopped the plants in the ground. Both the original and new vegetable garden areas were going great guns. I always give away and share my produce but I still had more to spare. I contacted Paso Cares to see if they would like the produce. They said they'd never done it before so we figured out a plan.
I gave them more than 50 lbs of produce including corn, melons, cucumbers and squash. They serve dinner each night. The meals are prepared by local chefs and/or businesses who donate their time. They were so excited to have the produce and I'm so excited that I am able to help this organization fulfill their worthy cause. I plan to continue to give produce to them as long as my garden is producing.
I'll be planting fall and winter vegetables soon so hopefully I can continue doing this for a while. My garden has always been my fun, happy, peaceful, plentiful place. It's a lot of hard work but a labor of love. I love sharing it and everything that it gives with others. Now it's given me a way to give back to my community.
The worker at Paso Cares said that because of Covid, they have so many more families coming to eat dinner just so they can save some grocery money to use for other things. So right now, they're not just helping homeless people but people financially suffering from Covid.
This year, gardening has also kept me safe, sane and busy. The perfect respite in this crazy year. All-in-all, I produced more than 1,000 seedlings. I've sold some, donated some and gave many away to friends and other Master Gardeners. I'm an avid food preserver, too, so when I'm not in the garden, I've been in the kitchen cooking and canning. People are always amazed by my garden and what it gives. Every day it amazes me too.
For more information about Paso Cares, visit their website: https://www.pasocares.org/
- Author: Alissa Bright
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Alissa Bright UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Area: Indoors in any zone
Size: 12” tall when mature
Bloom Season: Indoors in any season
Exposure: Full to partial sunlight
Pruning needs: No pruning required
Water Needs: Fill your vase with water up to the basal root. Roots of the bulbs should be in water, but not the bulbs themselves. Keep an eye on your vase/container to avoid drowning your bulbs.
Snapshot: Spring doesn't get the fun of freshly bloomed flowers all to herself. Even in the dead of Winter, anyone in any climate can conjure a bit of Spring by “forcing” paperwhite bulbs indoors in a vase. (In gardener-speak, to "force" is to coax a plant to bloom out of season.) Sweet-smelling paperwhites, the bulb cousin of daffodils, do not require a cold period to grow.
Let your kitchen windowsill serve as your Winter greenhouse. All you need is 3-5+ paperwhite bulbs (the more, the merrier), a glass vase, a handful of gravelly pebbles to nestle your bulbs in (root-down, tips up), and water. The pebbles elevate your bulbs, allowing just the tail-like basal roots to sit in water. The transparency of the glass allows easy vigilance of the water level. The bulbs awaken once nestled near a water source, and shoots soon begin to grow from the tips. Tiny, star-shaped flowers will appear in 2 to 4 weeks. Move to indirect light once flowers appear to prolong the blooming period, and enjoy the fragrance for 1-2 weeks before the blooms wither.
Unfortunately, when forced indoors, paperwhite bulbs are single-use only, and can be tossed into your green waste once they are spent.
- Author: Leslie Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosea'
Planting areas: Sunset Zones 15, 16 and 17. Prefers frost-free areas, but tolerates short periods of cold temperatures down to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Provide protective covering if colder temperatures are longer lasting.
Size: Narrow, upright small shrub to 6-to-8 feet tall
Bloom season: Tiny flowers are barely discernable and considered insignificant
Exposure: Full sun or partial sun
Pruning needs: Occasional trimming to remove dry or damaged stems
Water needs: Drought tolerant. Requires infrequent watering and well-drained soil to avoid rot.
Fire Sticks draw attention to any garden where it resides. This wildly popular succulent sends up pencil-sized stems in brilliant shades of yellow, orange, green and red. There's nothing shy about it.
But for all its showiness, Fire Sticks aren't fussy. As long as they have plenty of sunshine and aren't water logged, they'll reward you with years of beauty and admiration.
They also play well with others. With its multitude of colors, Fire Sticks contrast nicely with the blue-greys of agaves and bronze and copper carex tones. Fire Stick's colors deepen toward more red in winter and lighten toward yellow in summer.
This easy-care plant isn't troubled by most pests and diseases, resists deer and rabbits and is salt tolerant.
Fire Sticks belong to the Euphorbia family of plants that includes about 2,000 species, including the better-known poinsettia. As with all Euphorbias, Fire Sticks exude a milky white sap that irritates skin and can be toxic if ingested. It's recommended to wear gloves when working with this plant. Also avoid planting in areas frequented by young children and pets.
- Author: Jutta Thoerner
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Jutta Thoerner UCCE Master Gardener
“Plants we Love”
Size of Tree: 10-40 feet high.
Bloom description and season: small white to cream flowers in loose clusters in the axils of the leaves. Bloom time is in the spring.
Pruning needs: mature trees 4 years and older can be pruned in late spring or summer to increase olive production.
Exposure: full sun.
Water needs: drought tolerant.
Humans have grown olive trees for thousands of years. The oldest known olive tree is 1500 years old, but the average life span is 500 years. Olive trees are loved for their fruits, eaten fresh or brined and pressed into oil. But not all olive trees bear olives. So called “fruitless” olive trees are sterile and function as beautiful ornamental trees in a landscape setting. With many varietals of olive trees to choose from, you can narrow it down to fruitless, olives for brine and oil producing. To decide between different varietals, a trip to a tasting room or deli can determine quickly which type will fancy your palate. Then, confirm that your growing and climate conditions will accommodate the tree's specific needs. If space restrictions are a concern, you can choose a dwarf tree, or grow a compatible variety in a pot. You can even care for a potted olive tree indoors. The tree's lifespan in a pot is about 10 years. Olive trees have a high tolerance for drought and do well in CA's Mediterranean climate – sunny dry summers and mild winters. Trees can survive long periods without water, but they will drop olives during times of drought. For established trees, deep watering once per month is sufficient during the summer months.
If you are planning on harvesting the olives for consumption, look out for the olive fruit fly. Trapping in sticky traps and an organically approved spray might be needed to avoid a complete destruction of your harvest. Check out these popular trees for olive oil or for brining olives: Alfonso, Amfissa, Arbequina, Beldi, Castelvetrano, Gordal, Kalamata, Manzanilla, Mission, Nicoise.
Underutilized benefits of olive trees include the use of branches in flower arrangements and using dried leaves to make a healthy tea.