What you need to know before you pick fruits and vegetables from your garden

Now that your summer garden (hopefully) is in full swing, you might be wondering how to use those tomatoes, peppers and herbs. Last year’s events have increased demand for canning and food, especially among those who grow their own vegetables. I’ve noticed a lot of bad, even dangerous, dietary advice online smoking, so this week I’m going to wear my main chef’s hat.

I grew up with my mom trying to melt at home, so I know the process to some extent. When my wife and I finally had our own garden and fruit trees, I decided to try my hand again on the can. I have invested in a large bathtub, an indoor tin kit (including a mine, a pot lifter, a plastic spatula, and a magnetic lid lift) and the latest edition of the Blue Book. I soon converted 75 pounds of fresh apricots into many delicious apricot jars. I was stuck!

My next project was to grow all the tomatoes, which was not very successful. Everything seemed to be going well, but as I took the pots out of the pot, I found 2 inches of tomatoes floating in 4 inches of clear liquid. So much for my new knowledge. I soon realized that our tomatoes could be used in a better way, and I began to study the recipes for salsa.

If you want to try your hand at canning, please do not go to any random website for advice or recipes. For starters, my favorite pastime is the Blue Book, which is still being updated every year. Their recipes are all tested for safety, and the instructions are clear and well written. The ball has an excellent website (freshpreserving.com) that provides many up-to-date recipes and information. Other secure Internet resources include the National Home Storage Center (nchfp.uga.edu), the United States Department of Agriculture (nifa.usda.gov) and any cooperative extension website.

The advice to avoid includes anything that starts with the statement, “I haven’t killed anyone yet?”

One of the most popular, but dangerous, packaging methods involves filling hot pots with hot food, placing the lid and securing the ring, then turning the pot over and bringing it to room temperature without working in a hot tub. The common misconception is that the pots are safe from packing.

Processing in a hot water bath cleans the contents completely and ensures that no new bacteria or mold enter the food.

However, overturning hot pots can cause the pot to close, but if there are a few bacteria in that pot, they can multiply and cause damage.

Some canned foods require the addition of lemon juice or vinegar to make the acidic. Do not skip this step as this food will safely contain enough acid in the bath.

I will talk about all the wonderful things you can do with those tomatoes next week!

Do you have any questions? Email gardening@scng.com.

Need more gardening tips? Here is how to contact the main garden in your area.

Los Angeles County

mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/

Orange County

ucceocmghotline@ucanr.edu; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/

Riverside County

anrmgriverside@ucanr.edu; 951-683-6491 Extension. 231; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/

San Bernardino County

mgsanbern@ucanr.edu; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/

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