Weekend: Go on an adventure this summer, try preserving food

By SHAWN OCHS
There are many reasons for preserving food, and one of the greatest is that it brings people together. It creates great memories and provides opportunity to share.
So, take a new adventure this summer: Play with your food!
With food preservation, consider simplicity. This is particularly important if you have been unhappy with earlier food preservation, or are sharing this with other amateurs.
The biggest payoff in preserving food is to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should consider the “fruits” your family enjoys most.
Will you have a stockpile of your favorite vegetables, such as green beans, stewed tomatoes, or pickled beets? Or, would you rather stow away your fruits in the freezer after making them into a jam? How about taking that herb garden and dehydrate your crop?
Summer is a prime time to preserve your foods, but, it isn’t the only time produce peaks. Learn when peak season is.
Most produce is available year-round at the supermarket. However, if you are aiming to preserve your own produce, seasonal timing is key, and often can offer many versatile options.
“Our Ohio,” an Ohio Farm Bureau website, helps identify peaks for produce at: http://ourohio.org/food/whats-in-season
Canning, freezing, drying, and pickling are some of the more common methods to preserve food. Take time to research each type available, as well as decide with method works best for you and your family.
Some basics factors to consider: space, climate, available equipment, cost, and the nature of the food to be preserved.
For example, if you have limited freezer space and cannot buy or store additional freezers, this may limit your capabilities. You may not want to invest in equipment for pressure canning if you are uncertain about using it year after year.
The upside to the initial investment is that much of the canning equipment will provide many years of use with good care and maintenance.
It never fails, when you are in the middle of a task, something happens that you will need help. This is why it is important to begin with success by keeping your resources at hand.
You can search ohioline.osu.edu for resource fact sheets, or the National Center for Home Food Preservation at uga.edu/nchfp
You might even want to attend a food preservation course. The Ohio State Extension, Hancock County is offering three courses: July 22, Aug. 5 and Aug. 19, on freezing, canning and dehydration.
Search hancock.osu.edu or call the extension office at 419-422-3851.
Ochs is the new family and consumer sciences educator at The Ohio State University Extension Office in Hancock County.

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