Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross
Food & Nutrition
I am working ahead since it is 4-H fair time and I just finished writing about all the tasty food at the fair. Please note that I did not write about the nutrient dense foods and all the vegetables and fruits that you can enjoy. Yes, there are some, but we all know that most of us don’t come to the fair to eat vegetables and fruits. I will say that the 4-H Dairy Feeder Club serves a wonderful Amish Haystack and there are many vegetables in this, but I am not sure they offset the cheese sauce.
This time of the year when you live in northern Indiana and southern Michigan the vegetables and fruits are plentiful. Eating with MyPlate as your guide means you are eating healthier. It also means you are eating lots of vegetables and fruits, but I know you can only eat so much. So after you have eaten all you can, you share with everyone and then you begin food preservation.
The science and art of gardening, I know from working with many of you, is truly a passion, pleasure and possibly even an addiction to many people with European heritage. There is just so much about it all that we really enjoy and it goes way beyond the growing and good eating.
Preparing and eating food when the food is at its best quality is the ultimate in fine eating. The next opportunity you have is keeping food safe for an extended time. There are many ways that food can be kept safe at room temperature, refrigerated, dried, frozen, canned, pickled, and persevered as jams, jellies and spreads. I know as a result of the economy that more people are working on preserving food, and that is great. One of my concerns with food preservation is that everyone practices and works at keeping food safe.
Making time for healthy eating and a family eating together is so much more important than most of you realize. Preparing meals with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy and meats means practicing meal planning. Family time in the kitchen and around the table as family members share and communicate about life is one of the characteristics that builds strong families.
All of this reminds me of wonderful family times spent preserving foods growing up. These are really wonderful memories with grandparents, parents, neighbors and friends sharing so much more than just preserving food. From little on up I learned it all: drying sweet corn on a corn drier on the stove, all kinds of fruits and vegetable drying — some in the air and some in the food drier; then lots of freezing, water bath and pressure canning, jams and jellies and all kinds of pickled foods.
With more of you doing food preservation it is so important that you practice safe food preservation and use research-based recipes. You will find excellent sources of information based at your land grand university which in Indiana is Purdue University, in Michigan is Michigan State. To locate the Purdue Extension Service food preservation publications visit the web site at http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/ then go to “food and nutrition” and then “food preservation and storage”. At this site there are over 20 publications.
Another good source of information is the new 100th Anniversary edition of the Ball Blue Book, Guide To Preserving. The Extension office has copies of this book for sale for $7.50. For more recipes, tips and creative ideas visit www.freshpreserving.com or call the Ball Canning Hotline at 1-800-240-3340.
If you are using the internet as a resource I cannot stress enough that you please make sure and use an educational site: it will have a .edu at the end of the web address, or use trusted sites like the following ones: www.soeasytopreserve.com, www.homefoodpreservation.com or www.gafamilies.com.
The bottom line is now is the time to enjoy fresh locally grown vegetables and fruits in all of the creative ways you can think of.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.