Monday, August 19, 2019

Canned Pineapple Zucchini

Need a new way to use zucchini?  Try canning pineapple zucchini.  Diced or shredded this zucchini tastes like pineapple.  It makes a great treat out of the jar.  It has pineapple flavor with a softer texture.  You could also substitute it in recipes calling for pineapple tidbits or use the shredded pineapple zucchini in bread recipes.  I'm excited to try it.

A heads up.  I learned that I have a allergic dermatitis to raw zucchini.  Yes, such a thing exists.  The skin on my hand got tight, dry, and just peeled off.  Not too pleasant. So I wear gloves when dicing raw zucchini.


This recipe came from the USDA Home Canning Guide 2.  This is a great guide available online from the extension office. There are other guides for canning tomato products, vegetable products, meats, pickling, and jams and jellies.  Wonderful resource with information on how to can safely and recipes to try.

USDA Home Canning Guides


4 quarts zucchini, grated or diced
1 1/2 cups bottled lemon juice (standardized acidity)
1 can ( 46 oz. ) unsweetened pineapple juice
3 cups sugar

Yield:  8 pints

Peel zucchini and cut into cubes or shred.  Mix the zucchini with all the other ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Fill hot jars leaving 1/2 headspace.  Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids and process in a water bath canner.  Process half pints and pints for 15 minutes below 1000ft add 10 minutes at 5000 ft. 

Caveli is one of my favorite varieties because it has few seeds

Caveli zucchini
Diced zucchini

Beautiful finished product

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Growing Strawberries

Fresh strawberry pie, strawberry rhubarb pie, fresh strawberries, and strawberry freezer jam, just think of the possibilities if you had your own strawberry patch.  Strawberries have to be one of the most popular berries grown in the home garden, yet I find that people know little about proper cultural practices concerning strawberries  Most people mistakenly think home grown strawberries are small and yields are scant.  Perhaps we need a refresher course on proper management of an existing bed and how to plant a new strawberry bed.

The bed on the left are Tristar and Ozark Beauties are on the right.
  • Strawberries produce best the first through fifth years, however my beds are older than that and still produce a large and abundant crop.
  • Strawberries need well drained soil with lots of organic matter
  • I prefer growing them in a 4x8 foot raised bed but they can be grown in rows.  Rows are more difficult to manage
  • It's best to buy bare root plants in early spring.  They are usually sold in bundles of 25
  • Plant in multiple rows offset in a raised bed.  Try to space plants 6-8 inches apart.  Each plant needs 1 square foot.

 Planting and Early Care of Strawberries

  • Work 2-6 inches of organic matter into the soil.  Be generous and your harvests will be better.
  • Also incorporate a dry organic fertilizer into the bed.
  • During the first year, remove the runners with scissors
  • This will encourage root growth and development
  • Fertilize with fish emulsion the rest of the season
  • Strawberries have shallow roots and require up to 2" of water when fruiting
  •  Infrequent and too little watering are the biggest reason for small fruit and small yields
  • Strawberries are drought tolerant in a landscape setting but will not be productive
  • Mulch around the plants
  • Keep weeds out
Harvest with caps and stems.  Hopefully you have some left to take inside.

Managing the Strawberry Patch
  • In winter, let the plants die back and leave them alone until spring
  • In spring when they start to green up, remove a dead debris
  • Thin plants back to 6-8 inches apart 
  • Thin each plant to 5-10 crowns per plant
  • Sprinkle a dry organic fertilizer around the plants
  • Add mulch around plants

 Types of Strawberries

June Bearing

  • Need short fall days to initiate flower buds
  • All flowers that are going to bloom next summer are set in the fall
  • Produce one abundant crop in early summer
  • Good large berries with a concentrated harvest over short time period
  • They are classified into early, mid-season and late varieties.
  • Varieties include Guardian, Earliglow, & Allstar
  • Good for commercial growers or if you want a concentrated harvest for processing.

Real strawberries are red all the way through.

 Ever Bearing Strawberries
Initiate flowers in fall that produce the following summer

Also initiate flowers during summer

Produce second crop in summer until frost
Good varieties include Albion, my favorite or Ozark Beauty
This is my favorite type of berry.  You basically  get berries from early summer until the first frost.  The spring berries are smaller than the later berries.

Dehydrated strawberries are on of my favorite snacks.  I actually use store bought berries for this purpose.
Day Neutral Varieties
Do not require short day to initiate flowering

They start producing once they reach a certain maturity level

They produce a larger crop in the early summer and late fall

They produce sporadic crop throughout summer

Good varieties include Tri-star & Tribute

I have one bed of Tri-star, which is a day neutral type, and a bed of Ozark Beauties which are Everbearing.  The Ozark's are very productive with large berries they are my favorite.  Tristar are very sweet and delicious with the added benefit of producing berries that grow upright on top and stay off the ground.  They are less productive than the Ozarks.

Harvesting Strawberries
Morning is the best time to pick.  Berries are firmer

Pick with stems and caps on

Refrigerate as soon as possible

Do not wash or remove caps until ready to use them

Carry a ziploc bag when you are harvesting. When you encounter a berries that have rot or mold put in bag and throw away. 

This will minimize spread of fungal disease

Freezing berries is easy. Individually quick freeze them on a tray lined with freezer paper then place in individual bags for use later in desserts, smoothies, of jams.