Hello from Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) in Abingdon, Virginia! The month of July is busy. This busy is different from the busy of spring time. Our hard work has paid off and the harvest is abundant and waits for no one. Gardeners this time of year miss birthdays, family gatherings, and just about any other thing that falls in line with the next crop coming in. As the crops come in, we have to decide how we’ll put it up.

Canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting, you name it there’s a way to save that produce for later use and we ought to. For what other purpose would we grow all this good stuff? In addition to what’s in the garden, the wild blackberries, black raspberries, and early apples are also giving us a sweet abundance if we can find it.

One of our longtime participants, Cindy, volunteered to educate the Grow Your Own group on two things that she has mastered over the years growing a garden with ASD: Dehydrating and Juicing. In this small session, we learned the basics of drying herbs and juicing kale for delicious additions to our diet. Cindy also treated us to homemade hummus, kale chips (the best I’d ever had), and veggies to dip.

Cindy working hard in the kitchen to prepare fresh hummus.

Oh yes and homemade guacamole too!

Fellow gardener and herbalist, Cheri, enjoying the fellowship and the treats.

This summer ASD is working alongside Virginia Cooperative Extension to provide Grow Your Own gardeners with the best knowledge for how to preserve their summer harvests. Last week, we held our first hot water bath canning workshop at Pleasant View United Methodist Church. 

Sandy Stoneman, Food Safety Extension Agent, brought all the equipment, ingredients, and handouts for the workshop which cost $20 to participate. At the end of the workshop, each participant got to take home a jar of the strawberry jam that they made as well as informational handouts with recipes.

For those of you who may not know, hot water bath canning is only acceptable for high-acid foods like jams, jellies, and pickles. Pressure canning is the only safe option for low-acid foods like greens beans, potatoes, carrots, etc. The internet can be misleading with lots of bad information  particularly for home preservation, so ensure that if you get a recipe from the internet that it comes from a reputable source like the following:

National Center for Home Food Preservation

Ball Canning Guide

Extension Canning Guide

As always, enlist the help of your local Extension Agent, they are always happy to help and easy to work with even during this busy time of year. ASD will offer pressure canning and fermentation later in the season for interested Grow Your Own participants, enjoy the photos below of our first workshop for the season! Remember, put it up.