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'Tis the Canning Season!
Autumn Food Preservation
By Jan Keller, United Tribes Extension Nutrition Educator
7 October 2013

      Because the North Dakota summer heat didn't kick-in until late, typical harvest times were delayed this year.

      But, the smart provider embraced it with open arms. Farmer's markets and gardens produced good, late summer crops, like grapes, melons, corn and tomatoes, just as early fall crops started to show their shining faces: apples, pumpkins, potatoes and squash.

Sue Balcom from FARRMS, Medina, ND, hoists a jar of canned tomatoes from the steamer September 14 during a canning workshop in the United Tribes teaching kitchen.
JAN KELLER<>United Tribes News photo

      With our short growing season, we often find ourselves inundated with things like corn on the cob, vibrant red tomatoes, and green beans. Not to mention the zucchini coming out of our ears!

      What can we do to spread out the enjoyment of the bounty?

      There are several ways to preserve produce; some are easier and cheaper than others:

      Pickling: Using a brine or vinegar solution to preserve foods; Good for: cucumbers, beets, green beans, peppers, asparagus.

      Canning: Preserving cooked food by sealing in jars or cans; Good for: tomatoes, salsa, applesauce, apple butter.

      Drying: Using high enough temperature to remove moisture, but low enough that it does not cook the food; Good for: meat, any fruit, summer squash, carrots, peas (to be rehydrated in soups or stews)

      Freezing: One of the easiest and cheapest means of food preservation. Very little preparation needed, minimal supplies and it captures all the delicious nutrition that comes from produce at its peak. Some food requires a small amount of prior cooking (carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli), but others can go straight in the freezer (tomatoes, corn on the cob, shredded zucchini, berries, rhubarb).

      Leftover food, such as chopped onions, homemade burritos, spaghetti sauce, pancakes/waffles, soups, casseroles, and baked goods are easily stored in the freezer. This minimizes waste and makes it convenient for future use.

      For raw produce, wash and dry the food prior to freezing. Use storage containers made for freezing: freezer bags, plastic food storage containers, and glass mason jars.

      Food Safety can be an issue with food preservation, so watch for upcoming workshops or contact UTTC Land Grant Extension for specific instructions: 701-255-3285 x 1504.


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