TO CLOSE

After an unusually cold start to May, we ended with unusually hot weather. Somewhere in between these extremes, many county residents started planting their home gardens.

Due to home orders last spring, gardening was certainly on the rise in the United States. Long-time gardeners were spending even more time in their gardens, and with the new weather at home, many tried gardening for the first time.

According to a recent Axiom Marketing gardening survey, 42% of gardeners spent more time gardening in 2020. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in three age categories (19-28, 29-39 and 40- 55) reported spending more time gardening in 2020, with the younger age groups (19 to 28 and 29 to 39) increasing their time the most.

About 82% of all respondents rated their gardening efforts as successful. As for gardening projects this year, 86% plan to garden the same amount or more in 2021. Almost all (94%) of these energetic 19-39 year olds plan to continue gardening this year as well.

You may remember canning supplies were scarce last summer. It was kind of a perfect storm. The increase in home gardening and support from producers of local produce has led to an increased interest in home food preservation. Crazy supply chains for raw materials have resulted in lower production for manufacturers. This trend continues in 2021.

When you find lids to buy, be aware that not all lids are created the same. Make sure they are specifically designed for food storage and not just decorative. And the same advice also applies to jars.

If you plan to store green beans or other vegetables this summer, you will need to use a pressure cooker rather than a double boiler. In fact, a double boiler does not reach the temperatures necessary to destroy the bacteria responsible for botulism. The boiling water reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But temperatures of up to 240-250 degrees, which can only be reached under extra pressure, are needed to inactivate these potentially deadly toxin-producing spores.

Some pressure cookers use a weighted gauge, some have a dial gauge, and some have both. All of these methods are valid for indicating that an appropriate pressure is achieved and maintained during treatment. The accuracy of each dial indicator should be verified annually.

I’ll be testing the dial gauges and looking at the lids on the cans on June 11 at the OSU expansion office and July 10 at Auer Ace Hardware. You can register for a time at coshocton.osu.edu. This is a free extension service. I will answer questions about food storage and have plenty of resources with approved recipes and the most recent safety recommendations.

As more and more people feel comfortable trying out recipes in their electric multicookers (one brand being Instant Pot), I am sometimes asked if this is a safe method. for canning. Some owner’s manuals mention this as a possibility. However, it is not known whether the time and temperature required by USDA approved recipes are met. Therefore, OSU Extension does not recommend this valid canning method.

To meet the wide variety of inquiries we receive on food preservation, OSU Extension is offering a 4 p.m. webinar series on Tuesday. Topics include pressure canning on June 1, freezing on June 15, and drying on June 29. You can sign up for these at coshocton.osu.edu.

Today I leave you with this quote from Alfred Austin: “The glory of gardening: hands in the earth, head in the sun, heart with nature. Maintaining a garden is nourishing not only the body, but the soul.

Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences educator and can be reached at 740-622-2265.

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