Posts Tagged ‘food preservation’

…make lemonade!

In other words, don’t throw it out just yet! Fruit during any season can quickly overripe and end up in the trash…but don’t throw out the lemon (or fruit) just yet (unless it is moldy of course)! With the high cost of food, this summer I challenged myself to throw out less food, especially fruit, to learn to be more sustainable. I learned that it only takes a few minutes to turn overripe fruit into usable, edible food.

Here are 5 of the easiest (less than 10 minutes) ideas for using up fruits that are past their prime.

  1. Freeze that fruit! Freezing will stop the fruit from ripening any further, so you don’t have to toss it in the trash! If you freeze overripe fruit it can be used at a later time in smoothies or other recipes. Just peel (if needed), chop and freeze!
  • Make fruit roll ups. This is the easiest idea after freezing! Making fruit leathers or “fruit rolls ups” is easier than you think and healthier without the added sugar. All you need to do is puree the overripe fruit (blender or bullet works great) until liquid, then pour onto a rectangle cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, bake at 225 degrees for 4-5 hours and wala…a fruit roll up! The cooking times will vary depending on thickness and your oven. To finish, use a pizza cutter to cut into strips and then store in a container.
  • Toss in a crock pot! Tossing overripe fruit into the crock pot instead of the trash can, which could easily turn into chunky applesauce, peach cobbler or a healthy dessert with very minimal time and effort.
  • Make jams or jellies. Did you now that it only takes four ingredients to make uncooked jam. These include fruit, sugar, pectin and water! No cooking necessary! I made jam this week using overripe strawberries and here is the recipe I used from Ohio State University Extension who provide evidenced based recipes, fact sheets and 30 minute webinars on food preservation.
  • And finally, bake a fruit crisp or crumble! This easy and delicious dessert can be made in a few minutes with only a few ingredients. There are many recipes available, yet basically you would just slice the overripe fruit, place on the bottom of a pan then add the “crumble” on top of fruit (a combination of oatmeal, flour, sugar, spices, and butter) and bake! This can also be easily made into a gluten free dessert by using almond or oat flour!

So, when life does give you lemons…now you’ll know exactly what to do … and see that something good can come from it 😊.

Be well,


Written by Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Reviewed by, Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Stefura.2@osu.edu


Jams. Jellies and Other Fruit Spreads: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5350

Making Fruit Leathers: https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5361

Selecting storing Serving Ohio Produce: https://fcs.osu.edu/sites/fcs/files/imce/PDFs/Selecting_Storing_Serving_series_published_2021.pdf

Sustainability. Family and Consumer Sciences Ohio State University Extension. https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability

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By April, the writing was on the wall. More people were gearing up to plant vegetable gardens than we’d seen in quite a while. That meant that more people were planning how to preserve their abundance of produce.

Apparently as people were stocking up on toilet paper, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, they were also purchasing canning jars and lids. I actually don’t know all the reasons why there is a shortage, as it doesn’t seem to be very newsworthy material. But it is true that canning lids, or flats, are very difficult to find right now.

It may remind some of you of a similar incident in 1975. A shortage of raw materials that year caused a great reduction in production. Lid manufacturers were even asked to testify before Congress about the reasons for the nationwide shortage.

Instead of focusing on what we can’t change, let’s focus on what we can. (No pun intended there.) Here are some things to consider.

How old are the lids you are using?

When I called every store I could think of within a 20 mile radius and learned they were all out of lids, I then sent a text to the first hopeful source that popped in my mind – my aunt. I knew that she was freezing a lot more than canning these days, so I hoped she might have some. Sure enough, she had a variety on hand. Regular lids. Wide mouth lids. Ball lids. Completely unbranded lids.

I laughed when I looked at one of the price tags. It was a small ziptop bag with three dozen lids from a bulk food store for $2.89. I had just been on Amazon a few hours earlier to see prices like $13.25 for one dozen.  There were some cheaper options, but delivery dates are about a month out.

According to the Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet “Canning Basics”, lids will last for about 5 years. After that time, the gasket compound may fail to seal on jars. It is recommended to only buy what you will use within one year.

Are you thinking of reusing lids?

The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) is a trusted site for research-based recipes and processing best practices. According to NCHFP, “Lids should not be used a second time since the sealing compound becomes indented by the first use, preventing another airtight seal. Screw bands may be reused unless they are badly rusted or the top edge is pried up which would prevent a proper seal.”

It is simply not safe to reuse a lid that has already been processed.

Are you screwing those bands on too tight?

The last thing you want to do now is to process your jars and get a bad seal, resulting in a lost lid and the need to reprocess. So, once you have filled the jars to proper headspace, release any air bubbles with a flat plastic spatula. Then be sure to wipe the jar rims with a dampened paper towel. A clean jar surface is key for ensuring a good seal. The next important step is to screw on the metal band only until it is fingertip tight. This is critical so air can escape from the jar. Over tightening can cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure processed foods like green beans.  

Have you considered freezing instead?

If you are short on lids, freezing is an excellent, alternate method of food preservation. The “Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables” fact sheet has all kinds of tips and recommendations for freezing.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Ross County


Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Canning Basics. https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5338

National Center for Home Food Preservation. The University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (2020) https://nchfp.uga.edu/

Ohio State University Extension Ohioline (2015) Food Preservation: Freezing Vegetables https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5333

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The pandemic prompted many more people to plant vegetable gardens this year. Both seed companies and Extension Master Gardener programs have noticed this increase between purchases and visits to online courses and resources.  Some people had the time to plant because they were off work or working at home, others planted as a way to relieve their stress, and many planted to ensure they would have fresh produce for the summer (and maybe longer if they preserved by canning, drying, or freezing). In Ohio, these gardens are now yielding green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumbers, onions, sweet corn, and much more. When the first vegetables ripen everyone is excited to fix them for lunch or dinner, but after a few weeks you may be wondering “Why did I plant so much?” or “What can I do with the rest of this, because my kids won’t eat corn again this week?” If this is you – Ohio State University Extension (and other Land Grant Universities, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, and the USDA) are here to help.home canned foods

There are several key points to keep in mind when you decide you want to preserve produce for the future, here are the top three:

  1. Always use reliable, approved guidelines from the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning, or Cooperative Extension. You may ask “Why can’t I just use anything I see on the Internet or make my pepper relish the way my Great Grandma did?” The main reason is because especially low-acid foods (vegetables, meats, or seafood) have to be pressure canned to prevent botulism, which is serious stuff. By using resources from the above sources, you ensure that you are using safe, tested procedures that will provide high quality results. Check the date too, are you using a source from the last couple years? New research and procedures come out all the time. Make sure you are using materials dated in the last 5 years (even though it may be fun to look at a cookbook from 50 years ago, canning isn’t when you want to follow that recipe). Remember that canning is a science, not an art.
  2. Decide if are you are canning, freezing, or drying the produce based on your plans for future use and the foods your family will eat. It does not benefit your family to spend lots of time and purchase the supplies needed if they will not eat the final product you preserve. For example, there are many things you can do with tomatoes – salsa, canned whole tomatoes, tomato juice, spaghetti sauce, dried vegetable leather, and even spiced tomato jam. Consider the foods your family enjoys before you can 50 jars something that only one person likes.
  3. Ensure you have the proper supplies to make the product. Do you need a pressure canner, or can you use a hot water bath canner? Do you have enough Mason style canning jars or freezer quality containers? Do you need a food dehydrator, or can you use your oven or other drying racks? Here is a quick reference chart if you aren’t sure if you need to use a hot water bath or pressure canner.

In addition to the sources listed about for food preservation here are a few others:

Enjoy the fruits of your labor all year long by using safe preservation methods.

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Kate Shumaker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Holmes County.


The National Center for Home Food Preservation, https://nchfp.uga.edu/

University of Minnesota Extension, https://extension.umn.edu/preserving-and-preparing/canning-quick-reference-chart

Utah State University Extension, https://extension.usu.edu/news_sections/home_family_and_food/food-preservation-tips.

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As my family gardened this week we noticed that we have an abundance of zucchini. It’s that time of year where everyone is getting more than they anticipated and they are trying to find ways to use it up, preserve it, or give it away.

When picking zucchini look for firm and wrinkle free zucchini that is about 6 to 8 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. If you are anything like me, you likely have zucchini in your garden that’s 12 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. The larger the zucchini the tougher it will be and it will also contain more seeds. These zucchini are best for baking. Scoop out the seeds and pulp, grate the zucchini and use in your favorite recipes.

Zucchini have a high water content which makes them lower in calories. They provide us with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin K, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and potassium. This makes them a fantastic vegetable to eat. However, not all children are big vegetable eaters. If you are like me, you sneak them into things when they don’t notice. Zucchini bread is always a good option but if you have a picky eater like I do, the green flecks in the bread can quickly turn them away. Have you ever put it in your chocolate cake or finely shredded in spaghetti sauce? My kids don’t know it’s there and I get them to eat a vegetable! I count it as my mom super power! The below recipe is a great one to try from USDA’s Mixing Bowl recipe collection. You can also check out some of their other zucchini recipes.

The big zucchini that I picked from my garden will make a lot of Chocolate Squash cake. I won’t use all of my grated zucchini before it goes bad so I will be freezing my leftovers. For proper freezing procedures please check out these safe instructions by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Make sure you blanch zucchini before freezing to ensure quality.

Eating the squash cake is not as healthy for you as eating the raw vegetable itself but we all have to start somewhere.

Aunt Barbara’s Chocolate Squash Cake

Makes: 12 Servings


1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 package cake mix, dark chocolate

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 1/4 cups water

1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)

1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10″ tube or bundt pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.
  3. Add eggs, water, and oil. Blend until combined, then beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  4. Fold in squash. Add nuts if you like.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Other Ideas:

  • Use a greased 9×13-inch pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • To lighten cake, try 6 egg whites in place of whole egg.
  • Replace 1/2 cup oil with 1/2 cup applesauce.

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

REVIEWED BY: Lisa Barlage , Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,  Ross County.


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Most people know that today is known as Cinco de Mayo but many aren’t aware that May is National Salsa Month.  National Salsa Month began in 1997, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pace® salsa in recognition of the popularity and unique heritage of salsa.

In observance, you should consider trying to make your own homemade salsa.  All it takes are some fresh ingredients and some dicing!  If you don’t have all of the seasonings on hand, most grocery stores carry salsa seasoning packets in the produce section.  This could save you time and money.

Most salsas are tomato-based but there are many recipes available that use a variety of other ingredients.

  • Mangos
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Corn
  • Carrots

Salsa is typically eaten as a dip with tortilla chips but it can also be used to add flavor to other main dish items, such as chicken and beef.

Interested in preserving your own salsa?  You should always follow a tested home canning recipe.  Here are some resources to use:

Do not add extra ingredients to the salsa recipe prior to processing it as this can affect the acidity of the salsa which is critical to the safety of the home-canned product.  You can always add extra ingredients right before serving the salsa, if you desire.

Keep food safety in mind when storing your salsa.  Refrigeration is the key to enjoying salsa safely.  Once commercially-prepared salsa or home-canned salsa is opened, the unused portion must be refrigerated.  “Fresh” salsa must also be refrigerated.  Fresh salsa has a much shorter shelf life than the canned or jarred versions.

Whether you like to preserve your own, make fresh salsa, or pick up a jar at the grocery store, enjoy some during National Salsa Month.


Ohio State University Extension.  http://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5339

University of Connecticut Extension.   http://4-hfans.uconn.edu/recipes/05may.php

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension.  http://food.unl.edu/documents/May_SalsaMonth_Webletter_04_30_14.pdf

University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service.  http://www.wyomingextension.org/agpubs/pubs/B1210-4.pdf

USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.  http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda/GUIDE03_HomeCan_rev0715.pdf


Writer: Tammy Jones, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pike County, jones.5640@osu.edu

Reviewer: Melissa Welker, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, welker.87@osu.edu

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Safe, high quality home canned foods begin with the right equipment, used properly.  Why risk losing your time and food dollar through spoilage?  Check and assemble good equipment before the season begins, then maintain it well.

Check jars and bands.  Discard chipped jars and rusted or distorted bands.

Have pressure gauges checked.  Check with your local Extension office for Food Preservation Workshop or pressure canner gauge testing dates/times.

Check seals on last summer’s produce. canned foods

Make plans to use up last summer’s produce (both frozen and canned) to make room for new products and to prevent waste of food.

Check files to make sure your food preservation information is complete and up-to-date.


  1. I have several peanut butter, pickle and quart-sized mayonnaise jars which I would like to be able to use for canning. Is it safe to use these jars in a boiling water bath canner or a pressure canner?
  2. NO! Use only standard canning jars for home canning as these jars have been specially annealed to withstand the heat necessary in the home canning process. However, these make good refrigerator storage jars, are a perfect solution for your picnic packaging  needs, or can be recycled at your local recycling center.
  3. How long is it safe to store canned food?
  4. For optimum quality of food, plan to use home-canned food within one year. After 1 year, quality of food goes down, but is still safe as long as the seal is still intact and there is no sign of spoilage.  Whatever the age, ALWAYS boil low-acid, pressure canned food a full 10 minutes.  Twenty (20) minutes for corn, spinach and meats) to destroy any botulism toxins.  DO NOT taste prior to boiling.
  5. Which pressure canner is more accurate– the kind with a dial or the one with a weight control?
  6. Both are accurate if used and cared for according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some people like numbers on a dial; others prefer the sight and sound (“jiggling” noise) of the weight control.
  7. Do I have to use a pressure canner to can low acid foods such as green beans, corn, potatoes, etc.?
  8. YES, YES, YES!!! Low-acid foods must be canned in a pressure canner. Whether food should be processed in a pressure canner or boiling-water canner to control botulinum bacteria depends on the acidity of the food. Acidity may be natural, as in most fruits, or added, as in pickled food. Low-acid canned foods are not acidic enough to prevent the growth of these bacteria. Acid foods contain enough acid to block their growth, or destroy them more rapidly when heated. The term “pH” is a measure of acidity; the lower its value, the more acid the food. The acidity level in foods can be increased by adding lemon juice, citric acid, or vinegar.

Low-acid foods have pH values higher than 4.6. They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables except for most tomatoes.  For more information – check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s website at http://nchfp.uga.edu/.


OSU Extension’s page on food safety:  http://fcs.osu.edu/food-safety.

National Center for Home Food Preservation – www.http://nchfp.uga.edu/.

Written by:  Cynthia R. Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA.

Reviewed by:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Fayette County, Miami Valley EERA.

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This time of year many home gardens are filled with those last few tomatoes, peppers, or onions. If you are looking for a quick idea try salsa to make a tasty treat that is good for you and easy to prepare. Tomatoes – the main ingredient in many salsa recipes contain:

  • only 32 calories per cup
  • lycopene, a powerful anti-oxidant with cancer preventing properties
  • potassium and Vitamin B, known for improving blood pressure and cardio-vascular disease
  • Vitamin A, known for building healthy eyes

Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Shari Gallup has created a “Garden to Plate” video series which demonstrates the ease of preparing your own salsa, rather than purchasing it. Follow this link to view “Garden to Plate – Salsa” http://youtu.be/Diu1s-jnEyo.

salsa recipe

If you want to make a canned salsa to use later in the year check out our Ohio State University Extension link to food preservation resources. We even have a video to guide you through the steps with water bath canning of salsa.    To see salsa recipes and our OSU Extension Salsa Factsheet go to http://ohioline.osu.edu/ To be creative with your salsa recipe – freeze your salsa in food safe containers for up to 12 months (home canned salsas should only follow tested recipes and food preservation methods).

Take your garden to your plate with salsa!

Writers: Lisa Barlage and Shari Gallup, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educators, barlage.7@osu.edu and gallup.1@osu.edu.


Michigan State University Extension, http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/tomatoes_provide_many_health_benefits.

Linnette Goard, Ohio State University Extension, Associate Professor, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, goard.1@osu.edu.

Kansas State University Extension, http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/news/sty/2007/homemade_salsa090507.htm.

Garden to Plate Series, Ohio State University Extension, Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Licking County, http://licking.osu.edu/news/new-our-garden-to-plate-videos.


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