Dig It! Preserving Food
by Sage & Snow Garden Club
September 14, 2012
I always want to keep summer lasting as long as possible. One way we can do that is to preserve flowers through various means and dry or freeze food. Here are a few Q's & A's that have come in from readers on extending the tastes and nutritional benefits of summer produce into winter.
I have the chance to get 50 pounds of potatoes. Is there a way to keep them over the winter?
Signed, Spud Jones
Bury them in sawdust and they will last all winter!
When I put apples in my freezer they turn an ugly brown color, what is wrong?
Signed, Fred Shaple
Some fruits need a pretreatment to prevent this color change. You can get ascorbic acid (vitamin C) where canning supplies are sold. Citric acid or lemon juice can also be used, but neither is as effective as ascorbic acid. Steaming fruits for a few minutes before packing will prevent firm fruits like apples from browning.
When I freeze my berries they are all stuck together in a big blob. How can I freeze my berries so I can use a little at a time?
Signed, Barry Bits
I understand your troubles and there is a quick fix to this. When freezing fruit, dust with ascorbic acid and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until all fruit is frozen. You can then put the fruit in a container and use a couple of berries at a time when you are ready.
Everything in my freezer is covered with ice crystals. Is this safe?
Signed, Popci Cole
Food with ice crystals is safe to eat and will not harm you; however, it may not taste as fresh. To prevent or reduce ice crystals and keep your food tasting fresh, be sure to use packaging designed to be frozen. If you use containers that are not designed to be frozen, like yogurt containers, eat this food within two weeks. Also, your kitchen freezer attached to your 'fridge will not stay cold enough for long time storage. For products you plan on storing long term, put them in your chest freezer and make sure the temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
I have tons of basil and I know the next frost will kill them. How can I keep getting fresh basil?
Signed, Herb Longfellow
To keep getting fresh basil, repot each plant and bring it in the house for the winter. Put in a sunny window. If you want a recipe for a sort of basil 'pesto', combine 1/3 cup oil and 2 cups fresh basil leaves in a blender. Whir together, freeze flat in a plastic bag, and cut off what you need for your recipes (such as spaghetti sauce). You could also place the blended pesto into ice cube trays, freeze, and put the cubes into a bag for easy storage and retrieval.
How can I learn about preserving food, such as freezing and drying?
Signed, Just Wondering
There are tons of books on the subject and many publications via the internet. To get more regional information, such as for our high altitude, though, go to your local University Cooperative Extension Service office or their web site for publications or to talk with an Extension Agent. The Pinedale office's website is at http://myweb.wyoming.com/~erpeters/default.html; their phone number is 307-367-4372; and they are located at 621 S. Pine.
I was unable to attend the recent garden tour. Would I be able to still see some of our local gardens? I just moved here and need to see what can and can't be grown.
Signed, Rudy Rhubarb
I can't resist - you are truly in luck because a person with your 'handle' will undoubtedly be sought out by the Garden Club. I have heard tales of people attempting to eradicate rhubarb and they have failed, so that is definitely one plant that you can grow. I suggest you attend the next meeting of the Garden Club on October 16 (usually the third Tuesday in the month, but the Sept. Garden Tea & Tour was held instead of a meeting) and ask your question. We get together at the Sublette County Weed & Pest Office at 12 South Bench Road, Pinedale (307-367-4728). Social time starts at 4:30 P.M., followed by a short business session at 5:00 P.M. To find out more about the Garden Club, go to our website at www.sageandsnow.org. Please note that there will be no meeting in September.