Farmers markets and community gardens are still supplying fresh produce, said Barton County Extension Agent Donna Krug. She recently presented a program on the benefits of “locally grown” food and its preservation.
When talking at the Great Bend Senior Center at the end of July, Krug’s food basket included cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, green peppers, onions, okra and potatoes, as well as cantaloupe. “You can’t get everything at farmers market now,” she admitted. “It’s gotten too hot.” Dryness can result in a bitter taste in some plants, such as cucumbers.
However, fresh produce is still readily available. Great Bend will continue its Summer Street Stroll Farmers Market at 5:30 Thursday evening in the courthouse square.
“When you buy something at farmers market or raise it in your garden, isn’t the taste just wonderful? It’s a really good idea to grow and eat local, and in season.”
For those who want to preserve produce, Krug suggests the book “So Easy to Preserve,” published by the Cooperative Extension Service; The University of Georgia. “This is probably one of the best canning books that I have ever come across,” she said. Copies can be ordered through the Extension Office.
“Growing up on a farm, we froze and canned a lot,” Krug said. Times change, but canning and drying food and herbs is still a good way to preserve seasonal items to enjoy all year. For those who don’t have a canner, Krug provided the following “refrigerator” pickle recipe from Ball canning company. In addition to canning jars, the company’s products include dill pickle mixes.
Kosher Dill Pickles
Makes up to 14 quarts
For every 2 quarts of pickles, you will need:
• 3 ½ lbs pickling cucumbers (about 14 small to medium)
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup vinegar (5 percent acidity)
• ¼ cup kosher dill pickle mix
• 2 quart (32 oz) jars with lids and bands
Prepare Kosher Dill Pickles:
1. Cut ends off cucumber. Cut into spears.
2. Combine water, vinegar and kosher dill pickle mix in a medium saucepan. Heat to a boil.
3. Pack based on Enjoy Now or Fresh Preserve steps below.
Enjoy Now – Refrigerate up to 3 months
1. Pour hot pickling liquid over cucumber spears in a large bowl. Cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
2. Pack cucumber spears into jars. Ladle pickling liquid over cucumbers. Place lids and bands on jars.
3. Refrigerate pickles. For best flavor, allow pickles to stand in refrigerator for at least 3 weeks
Fresh Preserve – Store up to 1 year
1. Prepare canner, jars and lids according to manufacturer’s instructions.
2. Pack spears into hot jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid over spears leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims. Center lids on jars. Apply bands and adjust to fingertip tight.
3. Process in boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude.* For best flavor, allow pickles to stand for 4-6 weeks.
*Increase processing time:
5 minutes for 1,001 to 3,000 feet, 10 minutes for 3,001 to 6,000 feet, 15 minutes for 6,001 to 8,000 feet, and 20 minutes for 8,001 to 10,000 feet. Great Bend’s altitude is 1,849 feet.