Monday, June 30, 2008

You can eat those? Oregon grapes, your local extension office, and maintaining your pressure canner

I was checking out reviews for pressure canners earlier today, and one thing that people kept saying was to get the pressure gauges checked by the county extension office. I'd never heard of such a thing, so I decided to look into it.

The USDA website provides you with a nifty little map for finding your local extension office. Here's what the USDA has to say about extension services:

The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.

The website for my local office is loaded with information on preparing and preserving local fruits and vegetable, etc. And guess what I found there? Oregon grape jelly. I always thought our good ol' state flower was useless for anything more than looking at, but apparently with enough sugar these little berries make an awesome jelly. All kinds of places use these things in landscaping including, you guessed it, my very own university. On top of that, they're getting ripe. One of these nights I'll go out and pick the bushes clean and then I'll make me some jelly.

It really is simple. You just boil the berries in water and then let them drip through a jelly bag. After that you add 3 parts sugar to 4 parts juice and boil again. Put this concoction in jars and then can it and voila, Oregon grape jelly. I'll let you know how my experiment goes.

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