Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
Nutrition and Veggies
Wondering which vegetables to grow to assure your family of the greatest nutritional value for your garden efforts? Check out the Nutrition Data Web site. I found that broccoli leaves were just as chock-full of value as the heads (immature flower clusters). They contain lots of protein, vitamins A, C, and folate. Web site updates and a newsletter are available too.
Drying: The Simplest Way to Preserve
Drying is an excellent choice for preserving fruit that is not very sweet or not quite ripe, as the sugar intensifies during drying. Drying grapes and figs is easy. When harvesting, leave the stems on so there are no open wounds. Wash and separate the individual fruits, sorting out the spoiled ones. For grapes, this requires gentle handling of the whole bunches. Place the fruits to be dried on a rack in the sun and cover them with a double layer of cheesecloth for protection from birds and insects. Carefully separate grapes so that no moisture remains between them to mold overnight. Be sure the fruit is dried in air that's at least 95 degrees to prevent fungus from developing. Turn the fruit pieces and grape bunches every day until they have dried to the extent you prefer. Whole trayfuls can be turned at one time by placing a second rack on top of the fruit and then flipping the "sandwich" over. If the fruit dries too much, the pieces can be softened somewhat by sprinkling them lightly with water and separating them on a rack placed indoors for a day. Really sweet fruit sometimes dries into an unpleasantly strong molasses flavor.