TMCC program teaches how to preserve the harvest.
Around this time of year, as the apples, beets, and tomatoes begin to reach their full potential, Jana Vanderhaar, landscape architect with Reno’s Verdant Connections, looks toward the hot water bath. During her Preserve Your Harvest class, offered through Truckee Meadows Community College’s Community Education program and hosted at Damonte Ranch High School in South Reno, Vanderhaar embraces the local food movement as she instructs on extending crops’ shelf life.
“Fresh food tastes so good. The best way to get it is to grow your own or support local farms,” she explains. “When you grow your own, you need to have some way to preserve it for later use since it all is ripe at the same time.”
This is where simple preserving techniques come in. Vanderhaar notes that with highly acidic foods, all that is needed is a hot water bath and jars with tight-sealing lids for tasty, fresh produce options that will last well past this season.
Sealed in Education
Every September, as she’s done for the past four years, Vanderhaar delves into the basics of food preservation during her Preserve Your Harvest workshop. The three-hour class presents a hands-on approach where participants learn about the necessary equipment, available resources, and food-safety guidelines. Participants each go home with two jars of preserves.
“We can whole tomatoes and cover the methods involved with that. And the other project tends to be some sort of fruit preserve but is always a surprise based on what we get from a local farmer,” she adds.
For those considering food preservation, Vanderhaar suggests turning to online resources such as Freshpreserving.com, where up-to-date food-safety guidelines and recipes can be found. She notes that the most important elements are keeping the workspace as clean as possible to avoid contamination; reaching the appropriate cooking temperature and time; and obtaining a good seal to prolong the shelf life.
“It’s so nice to grab a jar of tomatoes in January or February, when it’s frigid outside, and it tastes like your summer garden,” Vanderhaar says. “Open a jar, and it feels like sunshine and the time when things were green.”
For details about the class, visit Truckee.augusoft.net.
Every year, writer Heidi Bethel attempts to embrace her green thumb with a backyard garden. If she nails it and has a nice bounty, she looks forward to enjoying the fruits of her labor with a nice preserve all year long.