It is that time of year when harvesting fruits and vegetables is an everyday occurrence. Which begs the question what do you do with all of the extra produce you grow? Well if you are like some 4-H’ers you learn to preserve your extra bounty. One such 4-H’er is David Thomas. David is a Senior 4-H’er and an avid canner. “I can pickles, relishes, and jellies for my family because we think that these homemade products taste better than store-bought ones! By canning, I am continuing a family tradition that goes back many generations. In fact, the grinder and slicer I use to make relish and pickles are the same ones that my great-grandmother used when she made these products. In 2013, my sister, Lynne, and I taped a story about canning which aired on Fox 45 television. Can you believe that when we went to the Orioles game the next week, one of the ushers recognized us from this television segment?” says David.
There are many types of food preservation one that Ian Moore recently learned how to do is jams. Ian is the President of the Dairy Goat Club and shares the following; “Jelly, jam, preserves, conserves, and marmalades are alike. All are fruit commodities that are thickened to some extent. Most are preserved by sugar. Their characteristics depend on the kind of fruit used and the way it is prepared, the proportions of ingredients in the mixture and the method of cooking. The finished jar will differ in clarity, color, consistency, and flavor.”
Ian took an adult food preservation class with Dr. Shauna Henley a Family Consumer Science educator for the University of Maryland Extension and learned safe preservation techniques. Some of our 4-H’ers learn through our project guides from the Home Food Preservation set which follow the USDA food preservation guidelines. Go to this web page if you would like to find out more about 4-H food preservation http://ter.ps/foodpreserve . And the USDA’s canning website and the National Center for Home Food Preservation website are http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html
So, if you have been growing your fruits and vegetables and would like to enter a preserved jar of your own in the fair here are some helpful tips.
What makes a prize winning preserve?
- Start with quality fruits and vegetables
- No bruised or blemished products
- Over or under ripe products can result in less desired final product
- Use new rings – no rust
- Filling your container neatly and with the proper amount of head space
- Do not add colors to enhance the appearance of your product
- Use the proper size jar to match the size of the fruit or vegetable
- Avoid particles and cloudiness
- Use enough of the liquid to cover the product
- Good consistency for jams and jellies
- No large chunks of fruits
- Have a clean lid