Yesterday’s “Preserving and Cooking Green” class went really well, and now I’m even more excited about the upcoming “Tomato Tango” class on September 20. Everyone in the class was presented with a booklet of hand-selected recipes and food safety handouts, and Hentze Farm generously provided the vegetables. After a full-class lecture about canning principles and examples of making sauerkraut and packing green beans, the class broke into small groups to do pickle workshops.
Everyone had a chance to practice making bread-and-butter pickles, kosher-style dill pickles, or dilly beans under the guidance of veteran Master Food Preservers. Maybe next year we’ll see their cukes at the Fair?
After we were thoroughly pickled, we turned to demonstrations:
- pressure canning beans;
- drying zucchini, tomatoes, summer squash and various convenience foods; and
- freezing sweet corn, squash, and green beans.
As the students persevered at the various stations, the volunteers set up a tasting buffet that could only be called extravagant. Ironically insisting it wasn’t lunch, our Mistress of Ceremonies Donna Crosiar invited everyone to help themselves, and heap our plates we did. One of the main themes of the tasting buffet was to show every single thing in the entire universe that could be done with the zucchini now threatening to take over Eugene. Read it and weep:
Two MFPs manned (womanned) frypans, cooking up zucchini-and-carrot fritters and zucchini pancakes, respectively. There were two versions of fried zucchini (and fried green tomatoes, yum) and stuffed, baked zucchini. Tzatziki dip accompanied dried zucchini chips. For dessert? We had already had two kinds of zucchini bread as a breakfast snack, so we needed…zucchini chocolate cake and zucchini cobbler, the latter of which tastes remarkably like apple. In between, we tasted sauerkraut chowder, a Hungarian-ish pork goulash sauerkraut soup, several kinds of pickles, sauerkraut salad, and god knows what else.
The high point of the class for me was overhearing someone say she had waited 50 years to learn how to do these things. That’s 50 years too long, if you ask me! This program has changed my life, and I honestly believe it can enhance the lives of all of our local cooks. The class was a mix of generations, and there were just as many young granola-types as there were middle-aged housewife-types, with some yuppie Slowfooders in between. That’s what I love about the MFP program; learning to preserve your own food reaches across the breadth of Eugene’s distinct populations. And a quick poll at the end of the class showed that everyone felt they had received their money’s worth.
So that’s what you missed. But I have good news for you. I promise, absolutely promise, that the tomato class on September 20 will be even better. We’ll feature tomato variety taste-testing, and how to preserve your garden bounty by drying, canning, and freezing. We’ll be demonstrating salsa making and many ways to use up your green tomatoes. The class will held at the Extension office next to the Fairgrounds. Early registration is $40 a person, $75 for couples, and at-the-door is $50 a person. Spaces are filling up, so please call 541-682-4246 to register soon! We’d love to have you join us, and keep in mind that this could be the last class of its type offered by the MFP program. We may not have the funding to maintain this level of service next year. Don’t miss your opportunity!