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Food Preservation

Four images. Image one - three varieties of asparagus: white, purple, and green. Image two a basket of green asparagus, image three washing green asparagus under running water, and image four, a plate with asparagus, salmon, and cherry tomatoes.

Asparagus: A tasty spring favorite

One vegetable that is notably present in grocery stores across the nation each spring is asparagus. Although asparagus can be found year-round, the peak availability of this perennial vegetable is in the spring. This vegetable has long slender, brightly colored spears with pointy crowns. The color...
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Bag of Flour with Question Mark

Is canning flour safe?

During gardening season, Americans home can fruit and vegetables to store them at room temperature and enjoy them throughout the year. Fruits and vegetables go bad much quicker than dry ingredients such as flour, but how long can flour be stored, and is it safe for home canning like fresh produce?...
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Wood baskets filled with delicate, acorn, and butternut squashes

8 winter squash recipes to make this autumn

After a multiday team meeting, our group went out to dinner. A special at a local restaurant was a whole pumpkin, scooped out and filled with mashed pumpkin, seafood, veggies, and sauce. It was a hit! While they're tasty and make for festive decorating, I find winter squash intimidating to cut up...
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Flat metal pot with 3 eggplant on wood background

Eggplant is a recipe centerpiece and a team player

When writing about specific fruits and veggies, I like to look at recipes with that food. I know how I'd use eggplant, but how do others use it? It seems like eggplant pairs endlessly with so many flavors across so many cultures. While eggplant can be the center of the dish, it can also compliment...
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Tan wood background with whole and halved peaches with a few peach leaves

Summertime is the best time to enjoy peaches

Peaches are one of a handful of foods I don't buy fresh unless it's summertime and I can get them locally. The quality and flavor of peaches in summer from a local farm is just. so. good! My favorite way to eat them is on their own. No muss, no fuss. But there are lots of ways to prepare peaches,...
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Plate of sliced cucumbers with overlaying text of "Cucumbers: From pickles to salads to sandwich toppers to dippers." Photographs show a young Asian holding a cucumber, a pregnant women slicing cucumbers, and an African American father and child holding cucumbers on a cutting board

Cucumbers make tasty salsas, salads, and pickles

Is it a zucchini or a cucumber? I get this question almost every time I talk with kids about that long, green vegetable. (They do have some similarities. It would be easy to confuse.) If you garden, cucumbers seem to keep coming and growing and expanding across the soil! So, when you are ready to...
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9 sweet and savory pumpkin recipes

9 sweet and savory pumpkin recipes

Fun fact I think many people have started to learn over the years: the cans of pumpkin puree on grocery store shelves are from "processing pumpkins" or "canning pumpkins," while the pumpkins we decorate with and carve are "ornamental pumpkins." Fun fact number two: Illinois is a top state for...
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Acorn Squash Are Not for Squirrels: With Tips on Eating, Shopping, and Storage

Acorn (squash) are not for squirrels

The main winter squashes I see sold in grocery stores - and interestingly from a pumpkin patch near me selling both edible and ornamental varieties - are butternut, spaghetti, and acorn squashes. Acorn squash are typically small, and if winter squash is new to you, they are a great one to try...
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Title text of 10 Recipes for the Zucchini and Summer Squash Overflow, with photo of young Caucasian boy holding very large zucchini in kitchen

10 recipes for the zucchini and summer squash overflow

Who has made the "mistake" of planting too many zucchini or summer squash plants, and then scrambled to find doorsteps to drop off extras? Take them please! There are too many! Or is it just time to eat a whole LOT of summer squash in the next month? Nutritionally, 1 cup of chopped zucchini...
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Turn strawberries into jam and fruit leather and salsa

Turn strawberries into jam and fruit leather and salsa

The strawberries are coming! The strawberries are coming! May is National Strawberry Month so you might start seeing sales or promotions in grocery stores and locally grown strawberries will be available soon at local farmers markets and pick-your-own sites. Like other berries, a wonderfully ripe...
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Increasing Broccoli's Appeal

Increasing broccoli's appeal

Along with green peas, broccoli might be tied as the most unpopular veggie with kids. I was an exception. As a kid and adult, broccoli is one of my favorite veggies - cooked at least. Raw broccoli doesn't appeal to me. Even a dietitian has food preferences, so this is a reminder that how food is...
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gifts from the kitchen including pomander balls, chai, homemade tea bags and roasted nuts

Holiday DIY: Gifts from the kitchen

When I think about the holidays, I think about getting crafty in the kitchen. Making food-related gifts for friends and family is a fun way to share your creative side and put a personal touch on the holiday season. In the past I have gifted home-preserved cranberry-orange chutney, herb ornaments,...
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Apple Pie Filling in Mason Jars

Canning Pie Filling? Do you have Clear Jel®?

It’s apple season! The leaves are changing colors, and your local orchards are filled with apples. Drying apples for chips, freezing apples, and canning apple pie filling are all great ways to enjoy fall flavors all year round! Extension offices have received numerous calls asking for safe canning...
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photo of tomatoes

Enjoy your tomatoes all year

It’s almost tomato time! As I look at my raised garden bed, I am patiently waiting on my cherry, Rutgers, and Early Girl tomato plants to ripen. I plan to can pint jars of tomatoes that are perfect for making spaghetti sauce and chili, dehydrate tomatoes when I don’t have enough ready to can, roast...
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Blanching broccoli for freezing

Freezing your summer harvest

Freezing has many benefits. It maintains the fresh flavor, natural color, and nutritional value better than canning or dehydrating. Plus, it is easy, convenient and requires less time compared to other food preservation methods. Making it an excellent way to preserve the summer harvest. To...
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Variety of Apples

Which apple works best for preserving

There are over 7,500 different varieties of apples worldwide. In the United States, 2,500 different types of apples are available. Apples are grown in all 50 states. For the first time in 50 years, the Gala apple beat out Red Delicious as America’s favorite apple. Did you know the Illinois state...
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slicing apples

How do I stop my apples from turning brown?

Apples are a fruit available all year, but taste the best when freshly picked from a local orchard or picked up at a farmers markets in the fall. Whether making apple butter, sauce, pie, salad, drying, freezing, canning, or cutting them up to snack on later, one universal struggle is slicing them...
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Apples on a cutting board

Fill your pantry with apples!

Are you patiently waiting for the apple season? The abundance of apples may come from an apple tree, a visit to the orchard or a local farmers market, or your local market. Right now in Illinois, the hot summer sun is preparing this delicious fruit for the harvest season. Many apple varieties are...
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photo of pickles

Pickling is old tradition with new appeal

Sour, sweet, bread and butter, Kosher dills, spears, chips, sliced on a sandwich, or as a snack or side dish. Pickles are everywhere! Pickling is an ancient form of food preservation, dating back to 2030 B.C. when cucumbers from India were pickled in the Tigris Valley. The word “pickle” comes from...
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photo of jellies

Make your own jams and jellies

This summer is the perfect time to resurrect the time-honored practice of making jams and jellies. Many of us are able to spend more time at home and family schedules are more flexible. Maybe you planted a garden or have access to a farmers market. If you are a novice to food preservation, jam is...
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photo of canning jars

Safely canning at home

Canning season is upon us! While many are busy planting their summer gardens, others are already preparing to harvest spring vegetables, herbs, and berries. Canning is a great way to use the foods you have grown in your garden or have purchased from your local farmer’s market. Moreover, canning...
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