Strawberries are being picked. Vegetables are ripening. The Minnesota food preservation season is starting. Canning, freezing, drying or pickling fruits and vegetables allows us to enjoy the bounty of summer for months to come. Whether you’re making your first batch of salsa or you’ve been pressure canning green beans for years, you may have questions.
Where to go for answers? Call AnswerLine to ask a household expert questions about: Safely canning and freezing foods; cleaning stains and mildew from homes and clothes; and other household issues. AnswerLine is toll-free at (800) 854-1678 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1 to 4 p.m.
Carrot cake jam, champagne blush jelly, fresh herb jelly, mom’s apple pie in a jar – these are some of the many exciting new varieties of jams and jellies that home food preservers are “putting up.”
Quality fruit produces quality jam or jelly. Begin with fruit at its peak of ripeness. This is not the place to “use up” overripe or decayed fruit. Making jam or jelly is a balance of fruit with the addition of pectin, along with sugar and acid, usually lemon juice. Blackberries, crabapples, or concord grapes are examples of fruits naturally containing pectin and acid, and can be cooked into jam without additional ingredients.
We are entering the season of graduation parties, family reunions, and community gatherings. These events include good people, good times, and good food!
If you are hosting or helping with a large quantity food event, be sure to keep food safety in mind. The combination of larger quantities of food, more helpers in the kitchen, and summer temperatures could result in unwanted foodborne illness for your guests. Infants and young children, older adults and those with weakened immune systems attending your gathering are at higher risk. Foodborne illness often presents itself with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever.
Pickling is not just for cucumbers anymore! One of the first crops of the season is asparagus and it is a good candidate for pickling. Use the freshest asparagus for best color. Choose spears with straight, green (possibly tinged with purple) and tightly closed tips. Thinner spears are preferred for pickling. The quality deteriorates very rapidly after it has been harvested, so keep it cool.
Pickled Asparagus Recipe
For six wide-mouth pint jars:
10 pounds asparagus
Wild edible plants will be the focus of a program at Lake Maria State Park beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at the park’s nature center. Registration is required by calling the park at (763) 878-2325.
Dr. Steve Saupe, professor and botanist at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict, will be the featured speaker, covering such topics as identification and collection of wild edible plants, preparation of edible plants for consumption and preservation and restoration of habitat. His presentation will be followed by a short hike.