Aged Fruit Cake

fruitcake

Do you have a surplus of canned fruit in your pantry? Use it up with this delicious fruit cake recipe! And remember, always practice proper food safety when preserving and using canned goods.


 

This is an old Extension recipe for using up your bottled fruit.  This cake is more like a pudding cake, rather than a light and fluffy cake.  If old fruit is not available, canned fruit of any age, or fruit cocktail, works well.  Serves 16-20. 

Ingredients:

1- quart fruit, with juice
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins, nuts, or coconut (optional)

Instructions:

Blend fruit with juice in a food processor or blender (or use a potato masher—it need not be a fine puree).  Add sugar and oil to fruit and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Pour batter in a non-stick 9×13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Cake is rich and can be eaten plain, but if frosting is desired, a butter cream or cream cheese frosting pairs well.


Need a refresher? Click here for canning safety tips!




Ask an Expert: Eight Reasons to Consider Canning

food canning

Canning your produce can make your harvest go a long way. The practice is economically beneficial and preserves your gardening efforts!


 

Now that gardens are planted and fruit trees are showing signs of small fruit, many people begin planning how they will preserve the harvest – canning, freezing, drying and even freeze-drying. However, even die-hard food preservers may ask at times if the efforts of growing produce and preserving are really worth it. Here are eight things to consider.

            Emergency preparedness – Preparing for potential job loss, earthquakes or other natural disasters serve as incentives for many to participate in food storage and preservation.

            Economically beneficial – Whether food preservation actually saves money depends on several factors: if you are able to grow your own high-quality produce; if you own the correct equipment in very good to excellent condition; the cost of electricity, natural gas or propane; and the cost of added ingredients and supplies such as sugar, pectin, lids, bottles or freezer bags. A first-time food preserver may find it cost prohibitive to purchase a new pressure canner, dehydrator, or water-bath canner along with all the containers, etc., but those can be purchased over time.

            Time saving – When considering this factor, it is important to think beyond the actual time to harvest, prepare and preserve the food. The time savings actually comes into play down the line when the convenience of having a bottle of stewed tomatoes or frozen chopped onions and peppers on hand to make spaghetti sauce alleviates a trip to the grocery store or time spent preparing these items fresh.

 

            Quality control – Time from harvest to jar or freezer is minimized when you can pick peaches in the morning and have them canned that same afternoon. Sometimes several days go by between harvesting/picking in a commercial orchard to the processing plant. Also, when it’s your hands sorting through the produce to make certain everything is cleaned and unwanted pieces are discarded, you are more confident in the overall quality of what you preserve.

            Flavor – In general, it is difficult to find commercially preserved foods without added salt, sugar, spices and in some cases dyes and firming agents or other additives. To a large degree, home preserved foods can be prepared with reduced salt/sugar and added spices in your preferred amounts.

            Health benefits – Those who have food allergies must always be on the watch for commercially prepared foods that have possible contamination from tree nuts, gluten and other potentially harmful allergens. Besides the freshness factor, when food is preserved at home, you are in control and can ensure that foods are properly prepared for your family. Reduced sugar recipes for diabetics and lowered salt content for family members with high blood pressure can also be used.

           Reduced food waste – Home gardeners often produce more food than can be harvested and used fresh. For example, rather than having many stalks of ripened corn go to waste, cobs can be shucked, then cobs or kernels may be blanched and frozen. Remaining stalks can then be donated to a farmer to be used to feed goats or other livestock.

            Emotional satisfaction – The idea of producing high-quality foods for future use – and from scratch – can be very satisfying. The best way to feel totally confident in what is sitting on the shelf or in the freezer is to simply follow the approved guidelines and steps established by science and research; not necessarily from a blog, Pinterest or a Facebook post.

For more information on home food preservation, contact your local USU Extension office or visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.nchfp.uga.edu.

 


This article was written by Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or 435-586-8132




Scary Food Preservation Story

Scary StoryStocking up on stories to keep you awake at night? Here’s one just in time for Halloween.


One of the clerks at The Mending Shed in Orem told me of a man who came in to buy some canning supplies. He mentioned he was canning some taco soup—in half gallon jars. Startled, the clerk dug a bit deeper, asking about his pressure canning time for a half-gallon jar. The man responded, “Oh, no! the soup goes in the jars boiling hot, so the lids seal without any processing.”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

Taco soup, typically with tomatoes, peppers, ground beef, corn and beans, is low acid—to simply put it in a jar and onto the shelf is an ideal place for botulism to grow. There’s no oxygen, it’s wet, it’s low acid, and it’s a nice, comfortable room temperature. The protein coated spore produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria will open up, releasing and multiplying its deadly toxin. It’s not a gas-former, it won’t smell, it will just poison whoever is unfortunate enough to eat it.

Proper pressure canning time at temperatures above 240o F (which takes 13 to 15 pounds of pressure at our altitude) is the only way to destroy the spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Another FYI: Lids on canning jars will “seal” briefly with simply a change in temperature, but bacteria in the food has not been killed, and the seal will not last.

Don’t “wake up dead” this Halloween! Use research-based canning recipes found on any Cooperative Extension site, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or Ball Canning.


This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County

 




Ask an Expert // What should I do with all these dried beans?

Dried BeansDried beans can be a great addition to your pantry and food storage. Read on to find out how to properly store and preserve dried beans.


This time of year, case lot sales are common. Among bulk items being offered are several foods known to store well for several years, when handled properly. Among those food items are several types of dried beans, sold in paper or plastic packaging.

Unless your family cooks with beans on a regular basis, a 25-pound bag of dried beans may seem a bit intimidating, or even impossible, to use up within the foreseeable future. If this sounds like you, here are some storage options to consider so you will have quality beans available when you need them for months or years ahead.

Utah State University Extension provides the following information to consumers wishing to add dried beans to their long-term food storage.

Storing dried beans

Quality & Purchase. For the most part, dry beans are graded U.S. No.1 (best) through U.S. No. 3, based on defects. Lesser quality beans are generally graded “substandard” or “sample.”

Packaging. Like most stored foods, beans are best stored in the absence of oxygen and light. Oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light will quickly fade bean color. The best packaging choices are #10 cans or Mylar-type bags. Canning jars are suitable for smaller quantities providing the jars are stored in a dark place. Oxygen absorbers should be used to remove oxygen from the packages to extend shelf life and minimize off-flavors.

Storage Conditions. Beans in normal polyethylene (food-grade) bags have a shelf life of 1 year or more. Like most stored foods, colder storage temperatures will increase shelf life. When packaged in #10 cans or Mylar-type bags, with the oxygen removed, they have a shelf life of 10 years or more. A BYU study indicated that samples that had been stored up to 30 years had greater than 80 percent acceptance by a consumer taste panel for emergency food use.

Use from storage. All dried beans, except lentils and split peas, require soaking in water for rehydration. Typically, 3 cups of water are needed for every 1 cup of dried beans. Allow beans to soak overnight and then rinse them in clean water. To cook beans, cover rehydrated beans with water in a stock pot. Simmer for 2-4 hours until beans are tender. Once tender they can be spiced and used in cooking recipes. As dried beans age, the seeds become harder. This results in longer rehydration and cooking times. At some point, the seeds will no longer rehydrate, and in that case, must be ground as bean flour. 

Preserving Dried Beans

It is common for home food preservers to “bottle” or “can” dried beans so they are hydrated and ready to use in recipes. For safety reasons, it is important to follow current guidelines for preserving dried beans as described by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. If you are new to pressure canning, visit this website and read how to safely use a pressure canner or contact your local county Extension office.

Procedure: Place dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain water. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover sorted and washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain.

Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans or peas and cooking water, leaving 1-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process as a hot pack;  pints for 75 minutes; quarts 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure (altitudes 3,000-6,000 ft.) or 13 pounds with a dial-type gauge tested for accuracy by the local Extension office. WARNING: Do not place dried beans in a jar and add water as a method to prepare beans for processing. To guarantee safety, beans must be hydrated first!

Whenever you get in the mood for fresh-cooked chili, humus, beans and ham hocks or refried beans, having quality beans on hand that have been prepared and stored properly will be a great asset to your menus.


Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to Kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.

 




Ask an Expert // Which preservation method should I use?

preserve foodInterested in food preservation, but not sure where to start? Here’s a great overview of the different methods for preserving food. Which one is right for you?


There are many ways to preserve food beyond the traditional bottling most people consider “canning.” All of the methods help you take advantage of seasonal abundance or food market sales.  Here are the Big Four, soon to become the Big Five, with pros and cons attached to help you make your decision

1. Freezing

Advantages: Freezing yields the freshest taste, and has the highest nutrition retention.

Disadvantages: In most cases, product must be thawed or cooked before use. Fruit can be limp when thawed. This can be overcome by serving fruits when still half-frozen.

Level of Preparation Difficulty: Easy— vegetables typically need to be blanched before freezing for highest quality. In most cases you simply put the product in a bag, label it, and put it in the freezer.

Cost: A freezer is a major expense, but they last a long time. Otherwise, cost is minimal: freezer bags or containers and electricity.

Storage time: For best quality, use frozen foods within three to six months. Frozen food is safe to eat as long as it is frozen.

Important food safety note: Freezing does not kill any bacteria, the cold temperature only keeps the bacteria from growing. When frozen product thaws, bacteria starts growing again.

2. Dehydrating (Drying)

Advantages: Dehydrated foods are lightweight, and don’t take up much storage space, making great packable snacks or meals. Home dehydrated foods are healthier than many packaged snacks because they don’t have commercial additives. Dehydrating yourself is cheaper than buying commercially dried fruits and vegetables.

Disadvantages: Lowest nutrition retention of food preservation methods—but still healthier than a store-bought snack. Product shrinks down, which makes for easy storage, but also appears to have a small yield because of that. Rehydrating a dried product does not mean the produce rehydrates to the level of fresh. It will be chewier than a fresh product.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy— children love to dehydrate. Produce needs to be sliced around 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.  Most vegetables (excluding peppers and onions) need to be blanched prior to dehydrating for best results.

Cost: Usually under $100 for a small electric dehydrator—at garage sales, even less.  Make sure to wash and sanitize a used dehydrator.

Storage time: Product is best when used within 6 months to a year, and is safe for longer if it is kept dry. Dehydrated products will mold if not kept dry.

Food Safety Note: Dehydrating is like freezing, it does not kill bacteria. It merely puts the bacteria in a state too dry to reproduce.

3. Boiling Water Bath Canning

Advantages:  Foods preserved in a boiling water bath canner do not need refrigeration, and can be used directly out of the jar. This method yields good nutrition retention, fresh taste, and is easy to use in cooking and food preparation. This is what most people think of when considering “canning.” Useful for fruits, pickled products, salsas, jams and jellies.

Disadvantages: This food preservation method can only be used for high acid fruits, jams and jellies, or pickles. It requires both the preparation time and processing time in the water bath canner.

Level of preparation difficulty: Moderate. Follow a research-based USDA or Extension recipe for safety and best results. See http://nchfp.uga.edu/  for online instructions and recipes.

Cost: You will need a  3- 5 gallon stock pot with a lid that allows for a trivet to keep the jars from direct contact with the bottom of the pan, and is deep enough to cover the jars with 2 inches of water above the jars. Commercial canners are around $30 – $40. Electric water bath canners are available for around $130. Canning jars are between $8 to $10 per dozen, although garage sales often have canning jars for cheaper. Only real canning jars (Ball, Kerr, Golden Harvest, Mason are typical brands) can be used: Salad dressing or mayonnaise jars are not strong enough. Canning lids need to be bought annually, but the bands and jars can be reused for years. One-piece Tattler lids are not USDA recommended at this time.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: The boiling water bath method kills most yeasts and molds in high acid foods. If you open a jar and smell fermentation or see mold, throw the jar away.

4. Pressure canning

Advantages: This is a great way to can low acid foods for home use. Properly done, it is as safe as commercial products, but there is more personal control over the content.

Disadvantages: Pressure canning must be done according to research-based methods in order to be safe! Canned low acid vegetables and meats are prime targets for the growth of the deadly botulism toxin.  See http://nchfp.uga.edu/  for online instructions and recipes.

Level of preparation difficulty: Difficult, mainly because of the time involved. Once the food is prepared for the jars, the pressure canner must be closely watched to make sure the pressure consistently stays at the 13 to 15 pounds of pressure needed to be safe at Utah altitudes for the correct amount of time.

Cost: The cost of a pressure canner ranges from $150 to $300. A pressure cooker is too small to be a pressure canner. Electric pressure cookers that claim to also pressure can are not recommended because they cannot hold 15 pounds of pressure for as long as it needs to be held at our altitude for safe canning. The cost of jars and lids is the same as for water bath canning.

Storage time: Foods preserved with this method should be used within 1 to 2 years.

Food safety note: If properly canned using a USDA or Extension tested recipe, the temperatures reached in a pressure canner should kill botulism spores, which create the botulism toxin. It is recommended to boil any low acid canned product for 15 minutes before eating as an additional safeguard, but anything that seems suspicious of spoilage should be thrown away rather than eaten.

5. Home freeze-dryer

Advantages: This method yields fresh taste, great nutrition retention, and preparation is easy (same as freezing or dehydrating).

Disadvantages: Freeze drying machines are expensive, noisy,  and take up space—they are quite large: the mid-size model is the size of a dishwasher, the small is the size of a student refrigerator. When the vacuum pump goes on, it is noisier than a dishwasher.

Level of preparation difficulty: Easy—the same preparation as for freezing or dehydrating. The time for processing is typically 24 hours or more, but it doesn’t need to be watched to do the processing.

Cost: Freeze drying machines cost $2500 and up, and require special vacuum pump oil.

Storage time: Home freeze-dryers are new, so definitive time studies have not been done. It is estimated the product is safe for around 10 years.

Food safety note: Freeze-drying does not kill bacteria. The same food safety recommendations as for either freezing or drying hold true here: once the product is rehydrated, the bacteria begin to grow again.

Home food preservation is an important skill to have. It saves money, gives control over content, and focuses your mind on healthy eating. Choose a process and enjoy the bounty!


This article was written by Cathy Merrill, USU Extension Assistant Professor, Utah County

 

 

 

 




Zucchini, Zucchini, Zucchini….Zucchini?

zucchini.jpgDo you have more zucchini than you know what to do with? Give these recipes a try!


I’ve never met anyone who has too little zucchini. It is easy to grow…and grow it does! Zucchini is a healthy vegetable — with a surprisingly high amount of vitamin C. Other than making your basic zucchini bread or once again making fried zucchini for the millionth time, there are many other fun ways to use it.

Home Canning

Although it is NOT recommended to can cubed or sliced zucchini (or other summer squash), there are tested zucchini canning recipes. Safe recipes are available for zucchini-pineapple and pickled bread-and-butter zucchini. The added acid in these recipes helps make them safe.

Check out the fact sheet “Preserving the Harvest: Zucchini

Freezing

Shredded zucchini freezes beautifully and can be pulled out year-round to make up a yummy chocolate zucchini cake!

For directions on how to freeze zucchini go here.

Want the yummy chocolate zucchini cake recipe too? Try this one

Drying

Few people think about it – but zucchini actually dries quite nicely.

Choose young, slender zucchini. (Those huge overgrown zucchini won’t be very tasty once you dry them). Cut into ¼-inch slices, and dry at 125 F until brittle. Dried zucchini works nicely in soups and casseroles.

Squash Blossoms

What? Eat the blossoms? You bet! They are edible and quite tasty either raw or cooked. Cut the blossoms midday when the petals are open, and leave a bit of stem. Rinse blossoms and put them in ice water until ready to use. You will want to use the blossoms up within 4-6 hours.

Squash Blossom Frittata

  • 3-4 zucchini blossoms
  • 1-2 baby squash
  • 4 eggs
  • Dash of milk
  • 2 green onions
  • Asiago cheese
  • Chopped parsley and snipped chives (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pick 3 to 4 blossoms per person and 1 or 2 baby yellow or green summer squash. Rinse blossoms well and drain on paper towels. Beat 4 eggs with a little milk. Add fresh chopped parsley and snipped chives, if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a non-stick pan, sauté a little butter and cook 2 green onions and thinly sliced baby squash just until soft. Then quickly sauté the blossoms for about 30 seconds and remove from pan. Pour egg mix into pan, sprinkle and arrange the onions, squash and blossoms on top and cook over low-to-medium heat until almost set. Sprinkle with Asiago cheese and put under the broiler until lightly puffed and browned.

So — do you have some new ideas? I hope so! However, if you are still on the hunt for a great zucchini bread recipe, check this one out. Included are helpful step-by-step directions and tips.


This article was written by Darlene Christensen, USU Extension associate professor, 435-277-2406, darlene.christensen@usu.edu

References:

https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/summer-squash

https://extension.illinois.edu/veggies/ssquash.cfm

 




Chill Out! Tips for Freezing Fresh Produce

chill outDuring the summer, fruits and vegetables are abundant — so don’t waste the opportunity for fresh produce because you may not have time to bottle it. Chill out: Use your freezer!


Freezing is safe, fast and gives the freshest taste with the highest nutrition of any preservation method. Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria—so make sure you wash and package your produce well–but it does slow or prevent bacterial growth because of the low temperatures.

A few tips:

  • Freezers should be kept at 0º F
  • Package in rigid, freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. Make sure to label them!
  • Vegetables are best blanched and cooled before being frozen. It stops the ripening action.
    • There are a few exceptions: Sweet or hot peppers can be washed and thrown in freezer bags to be used later in salsas or ….whatever! Onions may also be frozen without blanching—but double bag them to prevent odor transfers to other foods.
  • Fruits typically need no pretreatment, but for convenience sake, wash/drain, then freeze the individual pieces of fruit on a tray. Once they are frozen (about an hour), take them off the tray and put them in freezer bags. When you want to eat them, you can take out the amount you plan to use, rather than thawing the entire bag.
  • For small berries, the less handling the better. Wash/drain them and put them in one layer in a freezer bag. Put the freezer bags flat on the tray in the freezer. That way they freeze as individual pieces, but you aren’t repacking and breaking them in pieces.
  • For best quality, do not let frozen fruit totally thaw before eating: the freezing process damages the cell structure and they tend to be mushy. Put them out to eat when they still have ice crystals on them.
  • Tomatoes can be washed and frozen to be used in salsa later with their peelings on. To peel the skins later, pour boiling water over them, and the peelings will slip off. Let the tomatoes thaw a little before trying to chop them for the salsa.
  • Measure any fruit to be used in a recipe while it is still a little frozen to get a realistic picture of how much you are using. Include any liquid from the thawing in the measurement.

For more information, look in the freezing section of the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.

Chill out—and enjoy the fruits of your labors!


This article was written by Cathy Merrill, FCS Extension Assistant Professor, USU Extension, Utah County




Good News for Steam Canner Use!

Steam CanningGrandma used a steam canner all summer long, but you’ve heard they are not safe. Read up on what the latest research has to say about steam canning.


For decades, home food preservers have been told that boiling water-bath canners were the only approved way to process high acid foods (fruits, pickles, jams and jellies). The main reason for the recommendation was because there had not been adequate research performed on steam canners to the satisfaction of food preservation specialists at USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP).

In an article published in Food Protection Trends titled, “Atmospheric Steam Canners Can Provide a Safe Alternative to Boiling Water Canning for Acid Foods,” authors including Drs. Barbara Ingham, University of Wisconsin, and Elizabeth Andress, Director of the NCHFP, provide the conditions and guidelines for safely using steam canners at home. These are summarized below.

1- Process only food products that are high in acid in an atmospheric steam canner; the food pH must be less than or equal to pH 4.6. Low acid foods (including meat and vegetables) must still be processed using a steam pressure canner.

2- Use a current, research-tested recipe developed for boiling water canners with steam canners. Approved recipes may be found in the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, at the National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation (nchfp.uga.edu) or in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving but not in atmospheric steam canner instruction booklets. Factsheets and booklets produced by University Extension offices throughout the country are also approved when they reference one or more of these sources.

3- Monitor temperature in the steam canner to make sure that the process time begins only when the temperature of pure steam is reached. To better facilitate this, some steam canners are equipped with a built-in temperature sensor in the dome lid. Note that 212 F cannot reached at high altitudes without the use of steam under pressure. Therefore, additional processing time is required to effectively kill harmful bacteria/micro-organisms.

4- Heat jars prior to filling. Keep jars hot prior to the start of the processing time. To minimize cooling of jars, preheat both steam canners and boiling water canners before adding hot jars filled with food.

5- Make altitude adjustments. For elevations above 1,000 feet, the increased processing times recommended in research-tested recipes for boiling water canners should be followed.

6- To prevent the canner from boiling dry, limit processing time to 45 minutes or less. This exempts many tomato products —  especially those in quart-sized jars. Consumers must not open the canner to add water during the process; doing so will lower the temperature and may result in under-processed, unsafe food.

7- Cool jars in still, ambient (room) temperature air. Most microbial kill occurs during air cooling; thus the cooling procedure is extremely important. Do not cool jars in water, in the refrigerator, in front of a fan or by hastening the cooling process in any other way.

To access the complete article describing safely using atmospheric steam canners, visit http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/nchfp/factsheets/steam_canners.html. If you have further questions regarding any of the above guidelines, please contact your local USU Extension Office.


Kathleen Riggs is the Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences professor for Iron County. Questions or comments may be sent to kathleen.riggs@usu.edu or call 435-586-8132.

 




Three Ways to Preserve Zucchini

Preserve Zucchini.jpg

Do you have more zucchini than you know what to do with? Don’t throw it out, try preserving it! Watch our latest segment on Studio 5 to learn three ways to preserve zucchini. Read on for the recipes we mentioned in the show.


Ztudio 5 Zucchini

Dried Zucchini

Cut washed zucchini in 1/4 inch slices and dry in food dehydrator.  Use dried zucchini in soup, chili, or casseroles.

Frozen Zucchini

Prepare zucchini for freezing by cutting it the way you like to eat it (cubed, shredded, spiralized, sliced, etc.). Blanch zucchini in boiling water or steam, then cool in an ice bath before freezing.

Ultimate Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups zucchini (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Method:

In a large bowl, mix together zucchini, oil and vanilla. Add in flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cocoa. Stir to combine. Mix will seem very dry (depending on how wet the zucchini is), but continue stirring until mix comes together and resembles stiff cookie dough. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread into a 9×13 baking dish, lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Once cool, use foil ends to lift out of baking dish. Cut brownies into desired size, and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Canned Zucchini

Because zucchini is a low-acid food, it can only be processed safely if acid is added. You’ll probably find two recipe types for canning zucchini— pickles or relishes, and pineapple zucchini or zucchini marmalades. Be sure to use recipes from reliable sources such as Ball, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or USU Extension. Recipes from these sources have been tested and scientifically proven to be safe.

Zucchini Relish

Yield: about 4 half-pint jars

This Recipe was taken from the Ball Blue Book. Serve with hotdogs, hamburgers, sloppy joe’s, pulled pork sandwiches, or tuna salad. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped or shredded (about three medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • 1 cup cider vinegar, 5% acidity
  • Ball Pickle Crisp (optional)

Method:

Prep:
Wash zucchini and green and red bell peppers under cold running water; drain. Remove stems and blossom ends from zucchini. Chop or shred zucchini; measure 2 cups chopped or shredded zucchini. Peel onion and chop; measure 1 cup chopped onion. Remove stems and seeds from green and red bell peppers. Chop green bell pepper; measure ½ cup chopped green bell pepper. Chop red bell pepper; measure ½ cup chopped red bell pepper. Combine zucchini, onion, green pepper, and red bell pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt over vegetables. Pour cold water over vegetables just to cover. Let stand 2 hours. Drain vegetables. Rinse vegetables under cold water, drain.

Cook:
Combine sugar, spices, and vinegar in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a simmer (180°F). Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes.

Fill:
Pack hot relish into a hot jar, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add 1/16 teaspoon Pickle Crisp to half-pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180°F) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Process:
Lower the rack into simmering water. Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process half-pint jars 10 minutes (add 10 minutes to adjust for altitude in Utah). Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from Canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.

Pineapple Zucchini

Yield: about 8 pint jars

Use pineapple zucchini any way you would use canned pineapple. Try it baked into muffins, quick breads, or cakes. Mix it in with your fruit salad, or blended into a smoothie.

Ingredients:

  • 4 quarts ½-inch cubed or shredded zucchini (about 32 small, or 2 monstrous)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 46 ounces bottled unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1 ½ cups bottled lemon juice

Method:

Prep:
Wash zucchini under cold running water; drain. Remove stem and blossom ends. Peel zucchini and cut in half lengthwise. Remove seeds. Cut zucchini into ½-inch cubes or shred it using a food grater.

Cook:
Combine zucchini, sugar, pineapple juice, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to a simmer (180°F). Simmer 20 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking.

Fill:
Pack hot zucchini and juice into a hot jar, leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180°F) in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

Process:
Lower the rack into simmering water; water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process pint jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Test seals. Label and store jars.

Note: Use only commercial bottled pineapple juice and bottled lemon juice in this recipe to achieve the correct pH level (acidity) for safe processing in a boiling-water canner.

Hummingbird Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (2 ripe bananas)
  • ½ cup pineapple zucchini, with juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread pecans onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool, and then chop. Turn oven up to 350°F (177°C), then prepare muffin tin by coating with cooking spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl.

Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just. Fold in 1/2 cup toasted pecans.

Fill each muffin space ¾ full, and top with remaining pecans (if icing, reserve pecan garnish for after baking). Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove muffins from tin and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Pineapple Yogurt Icing (optional)
Whisk together 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, 1 cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon juice from pineapple zucchini. Add more juice as needed until icing is pourable consistency. Drizzle muffins with icing, and top with remaining pecans.

 

Learn More

Preserve the Harvest: Zucchini

Save Your Summer Harvest: Freezing Vegetables

4 Tips for Food Dehydrating

 

Pumpkin Zucchini Bread

Fresh Zucchini Salad

Cooking in Season: Summer Squash


This article was written by Marta Nielsen, Editor of Live Well Utah, Wasatch Front Marketing Assistant for USU Extension




4 Tips for Food Dehydrating

Food DehydratingNow that summer is in full swing and gardens are producing in abundance, you may be wondering what to do with all you have harvested. Maybe you’ve tried freezing, or even even canning, but what about dehydrating? Try these tips for dehydrating, and preserve some of that summer harvest for later use.


Dehydrating foods is a great way to save foods that you have in surplus, such as fruits and vegetables, for later use. If you preserve your own food regularly, you may already be familiar with how dehydrating works. But if you’re like me, you’re only experience with dehydrated foods might be store bought banana chips from your childhood! If this is the case, dehydrating might seem a little daunting. But have no fear! Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Simple and Easy

I had zero experience with dehydrating food when I set out to use the dehydrator. I was a little nervous that I’d ruin the food. But here’s a secret- it’s not hard! There isn’t much you can do to ruin the food you are dehydrating. If it’s not dry enough, simply leave it in longer. If you accidently dried it too long, add it to a little water to gain a small amount of moisture back.

Dehydrators are easy to use and set up. Following the instructions that come with the dehydrator will help you to get started. The machine will take up little space, has a quick set up and a quick clean up. Once you have prepped your food and placed it in the dehydrator, all you really need to do is wait. Most foods dry at 140º F, but you can visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation website or read So Easy to Preserve from The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension to find different charts showing temperatures and times for dehydrating foods.  USU Extension also has an old– but great!–handout on dehydrating, Home Drying of Foods.

 

2. Proper Preparation

 

Fruits and vegetables should be washed, cored and sometimes peeled before dehydrating. Almost all vegetables need to blanched to inactivate the enzymes that break down color and flavor during dehydrating. Fruits can be sliced or halved; some can even be left whole to dry. If you slice or cut your food up, remember to cut as evenly as possible. If the pieces are different sizes it could prevent them from drying at the same rate. Food that is cut into thin, uniform pieces will take less time to dry. Blanching is another way to speed up the drying time. When you blanch a fruit or vegetable, it can soften the outer layer which will allow the moisture to escape faster. After blanching grapes, I was a little concerned to see some of the grapes had changed color. But this is normal. So, if there is some color loss after you have blanched your food, don’t panic!

Some fruits, such as apples or bananas, brown when exposed to oxygen. This can be prevented by using a pre-treatment, such as dipping the pieces in lemon juice or an ascorbic acid mixture, to stop the enzyme that causes this reaction. Pre-treatments are not required because this browning does not affect the flavor of the final product, however it can change the look of your final product.

It is important to arrange the food on the drying tray properly. Make sure the pieces do not overlap or touch, as this could cause them to dry unevenly and stick together. There also needs to be room for air circulation, so make sure not to overfill the drying tray. The amount of food you can put on a tray will vary. I fit about two sliced bananas per tray, but this could differ depending on the size of the tray or even the slices.  

3. More Than Just Fruit

 

veggie leather

Vegetables prepped for vegetable leather.

Don’t limit yourself! While fruit is the most common food associated with dehydrating, you can dehydrate much more than fruit. Both fruits and vegetables can be dehydrated to be used for snacking on or cooking with. They can also be used to make fruit leathers, as well as vegetable leathers. You can find simple recipes to make these, or even get creative and experiment to make your own…whatever you are most comfortable with! Meats can be dehydrated as jerky. This can be done by following a jerky recipe or could simply be done by using pre-cut salami to make ‘chips’ for snacking on. Even herbs, such as basil or oregano, can be dried out, packaged and stored.

 

4. Patience is a Virtue

Remember to be patient. Different foods will take different amounts of time to be completely dried; some might take a few hours, while others may take a few days. Allowing the food to take as long as it needs is important to ensure it can be stored safely. The time will be well worth it once you have your delicious food, whether you choose to eat it right away or save it for later.    


This article was written by Kelsey Chappell, Family and Consumer Sciences Intern, and Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County