Patty Craig: A Slice of Time
Food growing and storage are becoming popular again. Knowing the growing and storage conditions of the foods we consume has become important to many. The UK Cooperative Extension Service and the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment provide many online resources to those interested in growing and storing their own foods, such as information about vegetable gardening, dehydrating fruits and vegetables, and canning foods.
First, the UK Cooperative Extension Service has an online document entitled “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” (http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf) which contains good information for spring, summer and fall gardening. For example, according to this document, transplanted peppers mature in 65-75 days, transplanted summer squash matures in 50-55 days, and transplanted tomatoes mature in 60-90 days. Since the average first frost in the Morgantown area tends to be between October 21 and October 31 [Kentucky Interactive Average First Frost Date Map (plantmaps.com)], a person can know about how much time is needed to allow the plant to bear produce. Accordingly, I could transplant pepper plants now and still enjoy some produce. This Extension Service document is a great resource.
Second, the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has an online document entitled “Dehydrating Fruits and Vegetables for Home Use” (https://www.uky.edu/ccd/sites/www.uky.edu.ccd/files/Dehydrating_Home-Use...). Since my grandmother and my late husband both enjoyed drying fruits, this article caught my attention. The article stated: “With the wide availability of tabletop kitchen equipment for fruit and vegetable processing (mechanical cutters, slicers, homemade dehydrators, blenders, etc.), consumers and small farmers with excess harvest or unsold fresh products can take the opportunity to process their fresh fruits and vegetables into dried snacks for direct use or sale at a farmer’s market. The advantage of these dried products is their stable shelf life, versatility, and overall value addition. Dried products can be used at any time (6-12 months) with little or no loss in quality….” Within the article, Table 1 provided preparation and drying suggestions for several fruits and vegetables. Some of the fruits and berries listed included: apples, bananas, grapes, peaches, and strawberries – some of my favorites. I have a dehydrator that my late husband used; I should see whether it still works.
Third, the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment within the Family and Consumer Sciences’ Food and Nutrition tab has many documents in the Food Preservation section (http://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/publications-list/22). Two of the documents included were “Home Freezing Basics” and “Home Canning Basics,” but the document that interested me was “Home Canning Soups, Stocks, and Stews” (http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/FCS3/FCS3586/FCS3586.pdf). My grandmother canned a basic vegetable soup from the vegetables she raised in her garden. When she used the home canned soup, she might add to it other vegetables, noodles or meat, depending on what she had that day. This article included guidance/direction for canning as well as several recipes. The canning recipe I hope to try is beef stew. This recipe makes about 7 quarts. I like beef stew and would enjoy having a head start.
Chief Oren Lyons said, “There will come a time when only those who know how to plant will be eating.” Growing and storing foods help people to have quality nutrition. I appreciate the UK Cooperative Extension Service – especially our local extension people – and the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment for providing easily accessible information regarding vegetable gardening, dehydrating fruits and vegetables, and canning foods. Their efforts help us to eat well.