March 8 Backyard Basics program to focus on fresh food preservation

BOERNE — The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will present the Backyard Basics program “Preserving and Serving the Harvest” from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. March 8 in cooperation with Don Strange of Texas, Inc.

The program will be held at the Don Strange Ranch Ranch, 103 Waring Welfare Road in Boerne.

One of the 2013 AgriLife Extension Backyard Basics programs named  "Preserving and Serving the Harvest" will be held March 8 in Boerne in cooperation  with Don Strange of Texas, Inc. (Texas A&M AgriLiife Extension Service photo)

The AgriLife Extension Backyard Basics program,  “Preserving and Serving the Harvest,” will be held March 8 in Boerne in conjunction with Don Strange of Texas, Inc. (Texas A&M AgriLiife Extension Service photo)

The Backyard Basics series, which is being piloted in Atascosa, Bexar, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall and Wilson counties, provides information and hands-on instruction regarding the benefits of home-based food production, preparation and preservation, according to AgriLife Extension program coordinators.

Backyard Basics programs will be held in this multi-county area throughout 2013. More information on upcoming programs can be found at the Backyard Basics website, http://backyardbasics.tamu.edu.

The March 8 presentation, which addresses techniques for canning and food preservation, will feature Di-Anna Arias, director of sales and culinary vision, and Susan Johnson, executive chef for Don Strange of Texas. Presenters include AgriLife Extension experts from College Station, Bexar, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe and Wilson counties, and the San Antonio Herb Society.

Arias said the interest in canning, pickling and preserving homegrown and homemade foods is a reflection of the “eating local” trend, as well as a way for consumers to stretch food dollars and have greater control over the ingredients and preparation of their food.

“We’re happy to be hosting the ‘Preserving and Serving the Harvest’ program as it fits well with our support of the eating local movement and of providing people with the freshest and healthiest foods possible,” Arias said.

The day’s morning menu will include buttermilk biscuits and specialty jams and jellies. The lunchtime menu will include ‘house-made’ brined meats, pickled vegetables and quail eggs and a dessert — all provided by Don Strange of Texas.

According to Dr. Connie Sheppard, AgriLife Extension agent for family and consumer sciences
in Bexar County and a program coordinator, registration for the program will be from 8:30-9 a.m., followed by an opening session and keynote address from 9:15-10 a.m.

From 10:15-11:15 a.m., experts will present concurrent sessions on cheese-making, herb growing and cooking, bread-making and preparing a water bath for food preservation.

Lunch will be from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., followed by concurrent sessions from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on pressure canning, herb growing and cooking, food drying and fermenting and pickling.

The program will conclude at 2 p.m., she said.

The cost of the course is $55 and registration is available online at the Texas AgriLife Conference Services website at http://agriliferegister.tamu.edu or  through the Backyard Basics website. All funds go toward education programming for AgriLife Extension.

“There is definitely a greater consumer concern about where and how food is produced,” Sheppard said. “People want more understanding about and personal input into the production and preparation of the food that ultimately goes on their table.”

Sheppard said AgriLife Extension’s Backyard Basics series has been designed in response to the resurgent interest in home-based food production, such as growing vegetables and fruits or raising hens for fresh meat and eggs.

“In addition to programs on canning and preserving, home gardening and small-scale poultry production, the series includes programs on making soft cheeses, jams and jellies at home, plus  programs on backyard cooking and rainwater harvesting,” she said, “The focus of the Backyard Basics series is self-reliance and healthier living through homemade and homegrown foods.”

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