Freezing Vegetables

179038355Freezing is a simple, easy, and convenient way to preserve vegetables. The process takes little time but the cost of a freezer and the utility costs make it one of the more expensive ways to preserve food. The freezing process preserves nutrients and provides a fresher flavor than canning or drying foods.

Freezing foods retards the growth of the micro- organisms and slows down chemical changes that may cause food to spoil. While freezing slows down spoilage, when the food is thawed the growth of bacteria, yeasts, or mold will continue. Proper handling of vegetables is important before freezing.

For step by step instructions on how to freeze vegetables click here

Original information compiled by Sharon L. Mader, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/4-H, Sandusky County. Revised by Pat Shenberger, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ashland County. Revised by: Deb Angell, Associate Professor, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Huron County; and Doris Herringshaw, EdD, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County. Reviewed by: Julie Shertzer, PhD, RD, LD Program Specialist, Department of Human Nutrition, Ohio State University Extension; and Lydia Medeiros, PhD, RD, Extension Specialist, Ohio State University Extension. 

Quick Process Pickles

477645693Quick process pickles differ from fermented pickles because the pickling process uses acetic acid from vinegar rather than lactic acid from fermentation. Quick process pickles are ideal for those who want to make pickles, start to finish, in a few days. However, the flavor of fresh pack or quick process pickles is better if they are left to stand in sealed jars for several weeks.

The correct acid concentration, in the form of vinegar, is important because acid prevents the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a deadly microorganism, in quick process pickles. If acid concentration is not sufficient, there is a danger of botulism poisoning. Therefore, use only tested recipes, and do not change the proportion of food, water, and vinegar.

For tested recipes and step by step instructions on how to make quick process pickles click here.

Information Compiled by Lydia Medeiros, Professor, Department of Human Nutrition.
Updated 2008 by Lois Clark, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Auglaize County, and Jean DeBrosse, Program Assistant, Family and Consumer Sciences, Greene County.
Reviewed by Julie Shertzer, Ph.D., R.D., Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Salsa: From Garden to Table

salsa2Americas have grown to love salsa. The sauce is healthy, easy to make, and flavorful. Cooks love to experiment with salsa recipes and may wish to preserve their winning combination by canning. Most salsa recipes are a mixture of low-acid foods (onions and peppers), with higher acid foods (tomatoes). Acid flavorings such as vinegar, lemon juice, or lime juice are also common additions. The type and amount of ingredients used in salsa, as well as the preparation methods, are important considerations in how salsa is canned. Improperly canned salsas, or other tomato-pepper combinations, have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism.

Important guidelines are provided for preparing safe, home-canned salsa. Use only research-tested recipes. Follow the directions carefully for each recipe. Use the amounts listed for each vegetable. Add the amount of vinegar or lemon juice stated. If desired, the amount of spices may be changed. Do not thicken salsas with flour or cornstarch before canning. Salsa can be thickened at the time of use.

To read the full article on water bath canning of salsa click here. It includes descriptions of ingredients that are used in the tested recipes. These recipes have been tested to ensure that they contain enough acid to be processed safely in a boiling water bath canner. If your personal favorite is not listed, it is best to eat it fresh. Untested, fresh salsa recipes can be stored up to several weeks in the refrigerator, or freeze it up to one year for longer storage.

Compiled in August 2008 by Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educators Marisa Warrix, Cuyahoga County, and Pam Leong, Shelby County. Reviewed by Lydia Medeiros, Ph.D., R.D., Extension Specialist, Ohio State University Extension.

Canning Basics

177578403Methods for canning foods at home have changed greatly since the procedure was first introduced almost two centuries ago. Since then, research has enabled home canners to simplify and safely preserve higher quality foods. Knowing why canning works and what causes food to spoil underscores the importance of following directions carefully.

How Canning Preserves Foods
Invisible microorganisms are all around us. Many are beneficial; others are harmful. All foods contain microorganisms, the major cause of food spoilage. Proper canning techniques stop this spoilage by using heat to destroy microorganisms. During the canning process, air is driven from the jar and a vacuum is formed as the jar cools and seals, preventing microorganisms from entering and recontaminating the food. It does not take long at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (F), the temperature at which water boils, to force air out, create a vacuum, and seal a jar. It does, however, take a specific amount of heat for a specific amount of time to kill certain bacteria. Although a jar is “sealed,” all bacteria are not necessarily killed. Adequate acid (as in pickled products and fruits) or sugar (as in jams and jellies) protects against the growth of some microorganisms. In low-acid foods, however, some microorganisms are not destroyed at 212 degrees F. Low-acid foods, therefore, must be heated to higher temperatures that can be reached only with a pressure canner. Low-acid foods, such as vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish, must be pressure canned at the recommended time and temperature to destroy Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism food poisoning. Canning low-acid foods in boiling water canners is absolutely unsafe

To read the full article on Canning Basics, including step by step instructions, click here.

Information compiled by Ruth Anne Foote, Extension Agent, Home Economics, Mercer County.
Updated by Marcia Jess, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ottawa County.
Reviewed by Dan Remley, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences/Community Development, Butler County.

With kids, forget ‘weighty’ discussion

AA032300Like me, my children are overweight. I’m having trouble figuring out how to talk with them about it. What’s the best approach?

A lot of people get nervous about how to discuss weight issues with their kids. In fact, a 2011 survey conducted by Sanford Health and WebMD found that parents felt more uncomfortable talking about weight than they did about alcohol, sex, drugs or smoking.

There’s probably good reason for this. A 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics revealed that if such conversation isn’t handled properly, things can turn sour. Researchers concluded that, with adolescents, at least, focusing on weight and size led to more binge eating and other unhealthy weight-control behaviors. On the other hand, focusing on health and on being a positive role model, not on the child’s need to lose weight, tended to be more successful.

Some parents get nervous because they think they have to have “the talk” about weight. But, unless your child brings it up, a more subtle approach is probably best. Talk about what you’re doing to eat more healthfully and become more active, and then do it.

Be careful you don’t become the “diet police.” You’re on your child’s team. You can help by removing temptations and offering alternatives: Instead of chips and cookies, buy a lot of fruit. Eat meals as a family and serve more vegetables. Limit screen time and plan some physical activity the family can enjoy together. Making small changes over time is better than trying to do everything all at once.

Some resources that offer additional practical guidance include:

  • “Weigh In: Talking to Your Children About Weight and Health.” This guide for parents of kids ages 7-11 is produced by the STOP Obesity Alliance and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. It includes situations you might encounter and how to prepare for them. It’s available to download
  • “We Can! Families Finding the Balance: A Parent Handbook,” from the National Institutes of Health. This 32-page booklet focuses on children ages 8-13 and is available
  • Raising Fit Kids. Available at, this website is produced by WebMD and Sanford Health and focuses on how parents can help their kids take a holistic, healthy approach to food, activity, rest and emotional health. The parent resources can be used together with related interactive materials ( for children and teens: Fit Junior for ages 2-7; Fit Kids for ages 8-12; and Fit Teens for ages 13-18.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Dan Remley, field specialist in Food, Nutrition and Wellness for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

For now, stick with low- or nonfat dairy

478289497I tend to drink 1 percent or fat-free milk, but recently I’ve heard that full-fat dairy might help with weight loss. Should I switch?

There’s some interesting science going on these days regarding dairy fat. For example, a review of 16 studies, published last year in the European Journal of Nutrition, supported the view that high-fat dairy foods don’t contribute to obesity. And it’s not hard to find other research with similar findings.

Despite results from these studies, most nutrition professionals believe the verdict is still out on whether or not dairy fat can help you manage your weight. Until the science is settled, they recommend sticking to the advice offered in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: “Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent) milk.”

Why? It all goes back to saturated fats. Diets high in saturated fats tend to raise the low-density lipoproteins, or “bad” cholesterol, in your blood, and that increases the risk for coronary heart disease. Whole milk, many types of cheese and other full-fat dairy products are high in saturated fat.

Calories also count: A cup of whole milk has 145 calories, while a cup of fat-free milk has just 90 calories. An ounce of regular cheddar cheese has 115 calories, while an ounce of cheddar cheese made from 2 percent milk has just 80 calories. Just look at Nutrition Facts labels and it’s clear that choosing low-fat or nonfat dairy can help keep you from consuming more calories than you need.

Why eat dairy at all? Nutrition experts say it’s a nutrient-packed food — an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and riboflavin. Dairy foods also contain protein, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A and B12.

Health benefits linked to dairy products include better bone health, which could reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Dairy consumption may also improve blood pressure, especially because of the potassium in milk and yogurt.

The Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 cups of milk a day, or the equivalent of other dairy products, for everyone 9 years and older. A “cup” of dairy includes:

  • 8 ounces of yogurt.
  • 1.5 ounces of hard cheese.
  • 1/3 cup of shredded cheese.
  • 2 ounces of processed cheese.
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese.

For more information about including dairy foods in your diet, see

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1043, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Carolyn Gunther, assistant professor and community nutrition education specialist for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.