Gar­den­ing of­fers pay­back at the hol­i­days

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Dean Fos­dick

Gar­den­ers make good friends, es­pe­cially dur­ing the hol­i­days when they give out foods pre­served from their gar­dens.

The top five can­ning recipes used dur­ing the hol­i­days are for ap­ple­sauce, cran­berry sauce, jalapeno jelly, ap­ple pie fill­ing and sauer­kraut, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey by Jar­den Home Brands, mak­ers of Ball-brand ma­son jars.

There ap­pears to be a dis­tinc­tive se­cond sea­son for food preser­va­tion — a spike from late Novem­ber into De­cem­ber made by can­ners who want to share home­made gifts in jars.

“Many con­sumers can syrups, jel­lies and sauces to give away as hol­i­day gifts, along with craft­ing and decor use for the hol­i­days,” said Jeff Marvel, a Jar­den spokesman.

The jars them­selves can be col­lec­tor’s items, and serv­ing ac­ces­sories on ta­bles or side­boards.

“Peo­ple pre­fer to see the vi­brant col­ors of their fresh-packed toma­toes or peaches in clear glass,” said Judy Har­rold, Jar­den’s Con­sumer Af­fairs man­ager. “Things like gra­nola and lay­ered cook­ing mixes tend to look bet­ter in col­ored jars. The same goes for non-food items like can­dles, pot­pourri, bath salts and col­lectibles.”

Gar­den­ers’ hol­i­day gifts are driven in part by the kinds of ed­i­bles har­vested late in the grow­ing sea­son, and in part by tra­di­tional hol­i­day menus.

Younger can­ners are us­ing in­gre­di­ents from all over, Har­rold said. “They rely more on farmer’s mar­kets than they do back­yard gar­dens for their pro­duce. And they only go to the gro­cery store when they don’t have an in­gre­di­ent to fit into their recipes,” she said.

All of the food preser­va­tion tech­niques — can­ning, freez­ing, de­hy­drat­ing, fer­ment­ing and cold stor­age — de­lay or stop spoilage while seal­ing in fla­vor and nu­tri­tional value. But home can­ners must use the proper tech­niques so they don’t pass along any food­borne ill­nesses.

Un­der-pro­cess­ing canned goods could lead to bac­te­ria in the food with­out any out­ward signs of spoilage, said Elizabeth An­dress, a Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia food

safety spe­cial­ist.

“Gift giv­ing is not a good time to ex­per­i­ment or try new pro­ce­dures,” An­dress said. “If you’re talk­ing can­ning, don’t ex­per­i­ment with any­thing in the low-acid realm at all.” That would in­clude meats and veg­eta­bles.

Also, en­sure that the jars

you use are meant for can­ning.

“Some jars are in­tended for non-can­ning purposes, like crafts,” and can’t with­stand the heat or tem­per­a­ture changes of the can­ning process, An­dress said.

Be de­scrip­tive with jar la­bels. You can make your own or find la­bels made to or­der on­line.

“In ad­di­tion to let­ting the re­ceiver know ex­actly what the food is by list­ing the in­gre­di­ents on the la­bel, it’s a nice touch to rec­om­mend how to use it,” An­dress said. “Things like ap­ple rings or chut­neys or pep­per jel­lies. The lat­ter is es­pe­cially good with cream cheese.”


For more, see this Penn State Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion fact sheet: http://ex­ten­sion.­va­tion/news/2012/gifts-from-the-kitchen

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