Pat Banker is a Community Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County. She is a Certified Master Food Preservation Instructor, 4H youth program educator, Wild Edibles Instructor, and a life-long Adirondack resident.
4H and County Fairs are as much a part of Americana as country songs and denim jeans. 4H youth work on a host of hands-on projects, gardens, community service programs, raising and training animals of all sorts, and a slew of science discovery programs throughout the year. All with the hope of exhibiting their masterpieces and menagerie at the county fair.
Thousands of people usually walk by exhibits in the Youth Building of photography, foods, woodworking, crafts, artwork, and educational exhibits that are usually judged face to face by volunteers with expertise in the subject.
Horses, dairy and beef cattle, goats, sheep, poultry, swine, hedgehogs, rabbits and critters of all sorts are trained, handled, groomed, and wearing their finest show gear in hope that there will be ribbons above doors and on cages. 4H youth can be found with their exhibits answering questions and proudly telling the public about their special projects.
Despite a very long winter that has not yet left this area, spring is now gracing us all with the presence of dirty snow banks and ice. It is those ugly snowbanks that are a harbinger that spring’s Free Range Shopping is coming soon.
What is Free Range Shopping? It is a means of freely foraging nutritious and delicious food. By mid to late April, as top layers of soil are visible and warmed by the sun, delicious morsels will be offered. » Continue Reading.
Weeks before the soil warms enough to plant most garden favorites but those vegetables agreeable to cool weather, there are many delicious, healthy, and useful wild edibles available – if one knows where to look.
One of the earliest to appear is the dandelion, taraxacum officinale. As soon as the ground is friable, look for the early signs of emerging dandelions. Dig up the roots, remove the crowns, wash with a vegetable brush to remove soil. If the root has been harvested while the soil is still very cool, they may be lightly peeled, and prepared as most root vegetables by adding to soups or steaming until tender. » Continue Reading.
It’s harvest time. Tomatoes, corn, beets, carrots, peppers and other fruits and vegetables are readily available from farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and your own gardens. Preserving the bounty safely for the winter can be economical, delicious, and safe if laboratory tested rules for food preservation are followed.
Since 1994, testing facilities, universities and the USDA tested recipes and directions used in food preservation books seven times in different areas of the country and under different conditions to assure that directions to be used would assure the product canned would be shelf stable, nutritious, flavorful, and free from both food spoiling bacterium and deadly bacterium such as clostridium botulinum-botulism. It was found that many canning instructional materials were not safe. » Continue Reading.
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