Susanna G. Magdziarz
sge24@wildcats.unh.edu

Organic Gardening and Home Preserving
Being Green in Your Home
Have you ever wondered what is in the food we eat? Recently, I have become interested in what is in the foods we eat. I researched three types of food additives: MSG, aspartame, and sulfites, and I discovered information I did not know before. Discovering this information has opened my eyes, and I see food differently than I did before. My family has a garden, and preserves some of our food, and this food we preserve does not have the bad chemicals in it. Taking this Green Goggles class, I learned that organic gardening and preserving your own food is green. I hope to discover more valuable information about organic gardening and home preserving.

Applesauce
I went to the grocery store, and looked at the different types of applesauce. I noticed that two brands of applesauces have almost the same ingredients. I do not understand why you need high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup in applesauce. The homemade applesauce contains all natural ingredients and they are all renewable feedstocks, which mean they are readily available. Mott’s and Musselman’s have a natural applesauce, but some people may not know the difference. Some people are becoming more aware of the chemicals in foods, and want the alternative choice. When you make your applesauce not only are you using renewable resources, but you are using small amounts of energy, and there is minimum waste.

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Mott’s
Original
Apple Sauce
Musselman’s
Original
Apple Sauce
Homemade
Canned
Apple Sauce
Apples, High fructose corn syrup, water, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Apples, High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)-to maintain color
Apples, Sugar, Cinnamon, Water
High Fructose Corn SyrupPeople may not know that high fructose corn syrup is a sweetener. It “is made by soaking corn in sulfur dioxide, separating the corn starch using high speed centrifuges, add enzymes to separate out sugar molecule, adding magnesium and using a series of filters and separation procedures” (High-Fructose Corn Syrup a “Natural?”2008). A person has to produce high fructose syrup, and sugar is readily available to use. Also, a person has to use more energy to create this sweetener. Some research shows that high fructose corn syrup can increase appetite which can lead to obesity. Also, people who are allergic to sulfites might not know that high fructose contains sulfur dioxide.
Polish Dill PicklesAlso, when I went to the grocery store, I looked to see what ingredients are in the name brands pickles. I looked at Vlastic,Mt.Olive, and Cains. Then I compared the ingredients to homemade canned pickles. I do not understand if the pickles at the store are dill why is there no dill in them. Why do the companies have to add all those ingredients? I know from researching food additives, companies want to preserve the food for longer period of time. Pickling your pickles requires a minimum amount of energy and the pickles last about a year or longer as long as the seal is good. Also, you reuse the same jars and bands, again and again.
Vlastic
Polish
Dill Spears
Mt.
Olive
Polish
Dill Spears
Cains
Polish
Dill Spears
Homemade
Polish
Dill Spears
Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, polysorbate 80, natural flavor, yellow 5
Cucumbers, water, vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, 0.1% sodium benzoate (preservative), natural flavors, polysorbate 80, yellow 5
Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, polysorbate 80, garlic, natural spice flavors, yellow 5 (color)
Cucumbers, pepper corns, garlic, bay leave, dill

There are some easy steps to follow to become green, growing and preserving your own food. You can start an organic garden and then preserve your produce. You are using renewable resources, small amounts of energy, and have minimum waste leftover.

Organic Gardening
Organic gardening entails growing food without the aid of commercial pesticides, or fertilizers. Rather the grower uses natural sources like compost, or manure. “Organic gardeners grow the healthiest, highest quality foods and flowers- all without the addition of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Organic gardening methods are healthier, environmentally friendly, safe for animals and humans, and are typically less expensive, since you are working natural materials” (Gehring, 2010, p32). When you plant an organic garden, the main idea is the use of renewable resources, maintaining the environment in a safe way.
Selecting a Place for Your Garden
Things to Consider:
  1. The amount of sunlight
  2. The distance from water source and your home
  3. The quality of the soil
  4. The elevation of the ground
You can put your garden in a number of places including pots, window boxes, roof tops, or an area in your yard.
  1. Make sure the area is clear of weeds
  2. Make sure the soil is loose
  3. Add your fertilizer
    1. Compost
      • Nitrogen
      • Carbon
      • water
      • Air
“Composting is nature’s own way of recycling yard and household waste by converting them into valuable fertilizer, soil, organic matter, and a source of plant nutrients” (Gerhing, 2009, p.19). If you like the idea of composting, it can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. You have to decide the amount of time you will want to put in to it. You have to consider the amount of waste you have, and how fast you want your compost.


Some Common Household Products
that you can use for Compost

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Vegetable Scraps
  • Tree Leaves
  • Twigs
  • Grass Clipping (make sure clipping are not treat with chemicals)
  • Livestock Manure

Some Items to Avoid in Your Compost Pile

  • Bread and grains
  • Cooking oil
  • Dead Animals
  • Dog or cat manure (which carries disease)
  • Meat or fish scraps
b. Manure
i. cow
ii. fowl
iii. horse
iv. pig
v. sheep
4. Start planting your garden
a. Follow directions according to the different types of plants
b. You can buy seedlings or plant seeds
If you buy plants try to look for those in biodegradable pots, so they can go directly into the ground. This is beneficial to the environment because there is no waste.
A Tip for Your Plants
“The calcium in the eggshells encourages cell growth in plants. You can even mix crushed eggshells directly into the soil around tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and peppers to prevent blossom end rot. Eggshells also help deter slugs, snails and cutworm” (Gehring, 2009, p 19).


5. Water the seeds and plants well to make sure they are well feed.
  • Watering in early in the morning or evening is the best time.

Starting an organic garden can be as simple or complex as you want it. You might decide just to plant one plant in a pot or decide to do a whole garden in you backyard. This is one simple way to be green, and you get the benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Questions
Do you have an organic garden (no use of pesticides, using manure or compost to fertilize), if so why, if not why not? Would you like to have an organic garden? What do you currently fertilize with? Did something or something influence you to have an organic garden? Do you know about the green benefits to the environment?

ResponsesJane Roberts
No. I would like to use compost. I haven’t used compost because I have not figured out how to do it.


Lois Magdziarz
Yes, I do have an organic garden. I want to fresh vegetables for my family. I fertilize with manure. Yes, my family influenced me to grow organically. Recently, I have become aware of the green benefits to the environment.



Home Preserving
Preserving your own food is another way to be green. This idea is becoming more and more popular. People, I believe are becoming more aware of what is in the food they eat. There are four different types of home preserving including canning, pickling, freezing, and drying. Your canned and dried food products do not need any energy to keep, and your frozen food requires only a minimum amount of energy. Not only are you saving food, but you are being green as well. Also, home preserving is ensuring you the highest quality of food. You do not have to worry about the risk of fungicides and waxes on your food.

CANNING
Canning was first seen in Franceduring the nineteenth century. Nicolas Francois Appert discovered the art of canning. He experimented with airtight glass bottles, putting them in boiling water, preserving the foods. Canning is “a method of preserving food that employs heat processing in airtight, vacuum-sealed containers so that food can be safely stored at normal home temperature” (Gehring, 2010, 164). Canning is healthy for you too, and prevents spoilage from occurring. In canning, you use a small amount of energy, so this is a green concept.


When you are canning, you need five components, including jars, bands, lids, canner, and your food product.
JARS
A jar is a glass container that holds your food inside, and they come in a variety of sizes. The jar needs to be able to sustain the high temperatures; also the jar must seal with the band and lid. Mason jars are the most common type of jar used when canning. This jar can be used over and over again.
sgm23.jpgBANDS
A band is mental ring that fits atop of a jar covering a lid. This band helps hold the seal, which keeps the food from going bad. These bands can be used over and over again.
sgm25.jpgLIDS
A lid is a flat metal disc that has sealing compound that seals to the jar and prevents spoilage from occurring.
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Sealing compound around the edge

There are two different ways to can including boiling water method, and pressure canning method.


BOILING WATER METHOD
This method of canning is used for high acid foods. “Heat is transferred to the food product by the boiling water, which completely surrounds the jar and two-piece closure…This method is adequate to destroy molds, yeasts and some bacteria, as well as to inactive enzymes” (Kingrg & Devine, 2006, p. 430). You can not use this method when canning low acid foods.


PRESSURE CANNING METHOD
This method is used for low acid foods. “Low-acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy potentially harmful bacteria, their spores and the toxins they produce” (Kingrg & Devine, 2006, p. 437).


COOLING JARS
After removing jars from the canner, you must allow them to cool for twelve to twenty four hours before touching them. You want to have a towel or a rack to let your jars cool on.


KNOWING IF THE JAR IS SEALED
You can listen for the jar to seal; sometimes you can hear the jar sealing. If you cannot hear the jar sealing the United States Department of Agriculture givens you three other ways to know if the jar is sealed or not. You can “press the center of the lid with your finger or thumb”, “listen for high-pitched ring when lid is tapped with spoon”, or notice the general ‘concaveness’ to lid” (Complete Guide to Home Canning,p.26).

Canning is one way to preserve your food. When you use canning, you can have a wide variety of different foods, such as tomatoes, green beans, peaches. You can make your own salsa, jams, jellies, and applesauce, then can those different items to enjoy later. Canning uses small amounts of energy, and has minimum waste. You can not reuse the lid again, but other than that you can use the same jars and band over and over again. In canning, you use renewable resources, maybe from the organic garden you planted. This is one way to be green in your own home.
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Canned Tomatoes

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Canned Peaches

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Salsa

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Blueberry Jam

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Peach Jam

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Applesauce

DRYING
The art of drying food was first practiced by the Chinese, Hindus, Persians, Greeks, and Egyptians. When you dry food, it does not require any refrigeration. When you dry food, “it removes all the moisture from food, making the environment inhospitable for bacterial growth. Drying also slows down the natural enzymes in food that lead to its decomposition” (Vinton, 2010, p. 71). There are four different methods to dry food including sun drying, air drying, using a dehydrator, and oven drying. Sun drying uses solar energy to dehydrate the food. This method uses the renewable resource of the sun, but the only thing is that this method is slow. Air drying involves hanging the food from a string out the sun. The most common foods that use this method are herbs and chili peppers. Using a dehydrator involves the use of a commercial dehydrator. This method is guaranteed to dry your food without fail. Oven drying uses an oven to dry food. This method does not work as well as the others, requires more energy, so method is not a green one. Drying your food is another way to be green. You can use your dried foods in a lot of different ways including using it in baked goods, putting it on cereal, or using it in granola. Also, you can use this method of drying to make jerky. Drying uses renewable resources, has minimum waste leftover, and depending on which method you use, uses renewable energy in the sun.
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Dried Bananas

FREEZING
Freezing is another form of preserving. Depending on the food, you might have to blanch your produce before freezing. Blanching “stops enzymes actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins” (Andress & Hansen, 2009,para 1&2). You have to be careful when blanching. Under blanching is dangerous, because “stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins, and minerals” (Andress & Hansen, 2009,para 3). There are three different methods in blanching your food, including water blanching, steam blanching, and microwave blanching. Water blanching is the best method in blanching your vegetables. You need a pot that is able to fit a wire basket in it. You have to fill the pot with water, place the basket of food into the water after it boils. You have to follow the individual times for the different types of foods. Steam blanching is another method of blanching. This method is suggested for a few different types of vegetables including broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. You also need a pot with a tight lid, and wire basket, make sure this basket is above the water level. Fill the pot with water about three inches. Steam blanching takes a little longer to blanch than water blanching does, about 1 ½ times longer. Microwave blanching is not a good method for blanching your food. In microwave blanching, some of the enzymes are not all inactivated. Also, you need to cool your food after you finish blanching it. You have to put the food into very cold water, adding ice to make the water colder. After cooling your food drain it, because any water on the food can cause loss of quality of food when it is frozen. When freezing fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries it is not necessary to blanch. You can use zip lock bags, freezer containers, or canning jars designed for the freezer to store your food. This type of home preserving does not take long periods of time, and is relatively easy. You can freeze a lot of different foods like beans, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries or winter squash. When you freeze you are using renewable resources.
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An example of pot used for blanching some frozen foods

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Frozen Green Beans

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Frozen Blueberries
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Frozen Raspberries

Pickling

Pickling has been around for a long time, it was practiced by the Chinese in the third century B.C. and the Romans also pickled as well. Then later the Americans started to pickle. Pickling is similar to canning, but in pickling you add acid which helps prevent spoilage. There are two methods of pickling: brined (fermented), and quick (unfermented). The brined (fermented) method takes several weeks to ferment at room temperature. The quick (unfermented) method only takes hours or one to two days. You use the same tools for pickling as you use for the water boiling method canning. Some necessary ingredients for pickling are vinegar and salt, without vinegar pickles would be unsafe to eat. There are many different types of salt including pickling, canning, table, reduced sodium, kosher, and flake salts. The best salts to use are pickling and canning Also, you should consider using spices in your pickling including dill, garlic or sugar. Using fresh spices are the best thing for pickling. There are many different types of pickled food items you can make including relishes, pickles, sauerkraut, beans, or hot peppers. Pickling your food is another way to be green. You use the same concepts as you do in canning This method of home preserving uses renewable resources, uses small amounts of energy, and has minimum waste leftover. The food you pickle will be great complements to the food you enjoy.

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An example of a crock used form making sauerkraut

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Sauerkraut


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Zucchini Relish




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Green Tomato Relish


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Bread and Butter Pickles

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Mustard Pickles

sgm31.jpgPolish Dill Pickles

Questions

Do you do any home preserving (canning, freezing, drying, or pickling), what kinds do you do, if so why? Did something or someone influence you to do this? Do you know about the green benefits to the environment?

Responses

Jane Roberts

I freeze something and I dry some herbs. I want to get fresh foods at their peak without any additives. I dry herbs just because I like to use herbs in cooking- chives, parsley, oregano, and basil. Family and friends influenced me. Actually, I never even thought about green benefits to tell you the truth.


Lois Magdziarz
Yes, I can, freeze and pickle, and recently acquired a dehydrator for drying for drying fruits. I do these things because the foods in the stores have unhealthy additives and I want to produce healthy foods for my family. I enjoy doing these things and there are economic benefits. My family had an influence on me. That’s is why I do these things.



Conclusion

Organic gardening and home preserving are ways you can be green in your home. You can make it as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You might be a person with one potted plant or you might be a person that has their whole backyard as an organic garden. Either way, you are making strides in helping the environment. Home preserving can be the same way. You might dry or freeze some of your foods or you might be the person who uses all the methods in home preserving. You are making the environment a safer and healthier place to live, using renewable resources, small amounts of energy, and have minimum wastes leftover. You get the benefit of healthy food, and you also help the environment.


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References:

Andress, E.L & Hansen, J. (2009, November). Freezing. Retrieved from:

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/blanching.html

Brennand, C.P. (1994, August). Home Drying of Food. Retrieved from:

http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN-330.pdf

Gerhing.A.R. (Ed.). (2009) Homesteading: a backyard guide to growing your own food,

canning, keeping chickens, generating your own energy crafting, herbal medicine

and more. New York,NY: Skyhouse Publishing.

Gerhing.A.R. (Ed.). (2010). Self-sufficiency: a complete guide to baking, carpentry,

crafts, organic gardening, preserving your harvest, raising animals and more.

New York,NY: Skyhouse Publishing

(2008). High-fructose corn syrup a “natural?”. Environmental Nutrition , 31(11), 7

Retrieved from:

http://www.environmentalnutrition.com/issues/31_11/asken/151778-1.html

Kendall, P. & Schultz, C.(2011, October). Making Pickles. Retrieved from:

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09304.pdf

Kingrg, J & Devine, L. (Ed.). (2006). Ball: complete book of home preserving. Toronto,

Canada: Robert Rose

Oregon State University,University of Idaho,Washington State University. (2008, June).

Pickling Vegetables. Retrieved from:

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/pnw/pnw355.pdf

United States Department of Agriculture. Home Canning Guide 1 Principles of Home

Canning. Retrieved from

http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/Store/Guide1.pdf

Vinton, S.B. (2010). Put’em up.North Adams,MA: Storey Publishing