• Scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer

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Sitka Farmers Market Co-Manager Ellexis Howey, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Hope Merritt of Gimbal Botanicals, second from left, and her assistant Brenon Littlefield at the first market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, June 28, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Hope has been a regular vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market since it started, selling herbal teas, herbs, and beach greens. She received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh rhubarb, earrings, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/ or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer took place on Saturday, June 28, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St.

This market kicked off our seventh summer, and it was the first time we’d hosted a market in June. After a week of rainy weather, we wound up with a nice overcast day with no moisture. We had a nice crowd, and several new booths.

The second Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at ANB Founders Hall. This will be our first market with free transportation from Sitka Tours. To learn more, watch this site for updates. A slideshow with scenes from the first market is below.

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• Sitka Kitch hosts Sarah Lewis for cottage foods industry and home canning classes

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SarahLewisSitka Kitch will host Sarah Lewis, Family and Community Development Faculty from the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, for three classes about the cottage food industry and home canning on July 25-27 at Sitka High School. (Editor’s note: The location of the first two classes has been moved to the Sitka Presbyterian Church on Sawmill Creek Road. Sunday’s class still will take place at Sitka High School, but the topic has been changed to Canning Jams and Jellies and the time will be from noon to 3 p.m.)

The three classes cost $20 each. Space is limited, so please register in advance by calling Marjorie Hennessy of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509. Students will take home the products they make. The classes are:

  • Friday, June 25, 5:30-8:30 p.m., Cottage Foods Business Workshop — Students learn about Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation cottage foods industry regulations, as well as the food preparation and food preservation techniques that qualify. Class includes hands-on water-bath canning, dehydrating and pickling instruction. Veggies and other materials will be provided. Students must bring 8-12 half-pint canning jars with lids.
  • Saturday, June 26, 3-8 p.m., Canning the Harvest — Fish, veggies and other materials provided. Students must bring 12 half-pint canning jars with lids.
  • Sunday, June 27, noon to 5 p.m., Canning Soups and Sauces — Food and materials will be provided. Students must bring 12 half-pint canning jars with lids.

In addition, Sarah will be at the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, where she will be available to test canner pressure gauges and provide other resources about home canning and food preservation.

Also, Sitka Kitch will partner with Sitka Tribe of Alaska to offer a pickled salmon course in August. This class is offered free of charge, but space is extremely limited. More details on date and location will be available soon.

Sitka Kitch is a community wellness project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka. The different parts of the project include creating a community kitchen Sitka residents can rent to prepare food for their small businesses or to preserve their family harvest of fish, game, or garden veggies; expanding Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity; and providing education about preserving food and building family emergency food pantries.

For more information about the Sitka Kitch project, contact Marjorie Hennessy at marjorie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

 

 

• Scenes from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2013 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Taylor Ihde, center front, (with Taylor's mother, Jennifer Ihde, center back), at the fifth market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Taylor makes homemade earrings and other jewelry, which she has been selling at the Sitka Farmers Markets for a couple of years. She received a gift bag with fresh produce, fand a certificate and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The sixth and final market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/. Also, don't forget the Sitka Local Foods Network will host the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 (registration at 10 a.m. and costume contest at 10:30 a.m.), at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The Running of the Boots is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Some late-season vegetables and other items will be for sale at this event.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Taylor Ihde, center front, (with Taylor’s mother, Jennifer Ihde, center back), at the fifth market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Taylor makes homemade earrings and other jewelry, which she has been selling at the Sitka Farmers Markets for a couple of years. She received a gift bag with fresh produce, fand a certificate and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The sixth and final market of the season is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/. Also, don’t forget the Sitka Local Foods Network will host the annual Running of the Boots costumed fun run at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28 (registration at 10 a.m. and costume contest at 10:30 a.m.), at Crescent Harbor Shelter. The Running of the Boots is a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. Some late-season vegetables and other items will be for sale at this event.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignRain was the reality of the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer, on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

We had a decent crowd, despite the rain, though most people spent their time indoors sampling the wares of those booths.

The sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, at ANB Founders Hall. A slideshow with scenes from the fifth market is below.

Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 19th annual Running of the Boots, a costumed fun run that serves as a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Food Network. The Running of the Boots will be at 11 a.m. (registration at 10 a.m., costume contest about 10:30 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Crescent Harbor Shelter (there is an entry fee). Some late-season vegetables will be available for sale at this event. To learn more, watch this site for updates.

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• Scenes from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2013 summer

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Peter Apathy and Carole Knuth of Reindeer Redhots at the fourth market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peter and Carole sell Alaska-made reindeer and all-beef hot dogs and Polish sausage, with sauerkraut and chili sides from their cart, which is open at the corner of Lincoln and Lake streets on most big cruise ship days (http://reindeerredhots.com/). They received a gift bag with fresh produce, fresh rhubarb jam and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market Interim Manager Garrett Bauer, left, and Co-Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Peter Apathy and Carole Knuth of Reindeer Redhots at the fourth market of the season on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Peter and Carole sell Alaska-made reindeer and all-beef hot dogs and Polish sausage, with sauerkraut and chili sides from their cart, which is open at the corner of Lincoln and Lake streets on most big cruise ship days (http://reindeerredhots.com/). They received a gift bag with fresh produce, fresh rhubarb jam and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2013 summer took place on Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St.

For the first time this summer, we had to deal with a bit of rain during the market, but the downpour was only temporary. We still had a decent crowd, and there were even a few new booths.

The fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the season takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at ANB Founders Hall. To learn more, watch this site for updates. A slideshow with scenes from the fourth market is below.

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• Scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the season

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Garrett Bauer, left, and Sabrina Cimerol, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Jean Frank of Jeans Jellies Etc. at the second market of the season on Saturday, July 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Jean has been a regular vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market since it started, selling jellies, jams, honey and more. She received a gift bag with fresh produce, fresh rhubarb jam and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK
Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Garrett Bauer, left, and Sabrina Cimerol, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Jean Frank of Jeans Jellies Etc. at the second market of the season on Saturday, July 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Jean has been a regular vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market since it started, selling jellies, jams, honey and more. She received a gift bag with fresh produce, fresh rhubarb jam and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This is the sixth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe second Sitka Farmers Market of the season took place on Saturday, July 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St.

We again lucked into a break in the rain and there was a pretty good crowd for the second market of the season. We had a lot of familiar booths selling fresh veggies, fish, baked goods, arts and crafts, plus some new faces joining the vendors.

The third market of the six planned this summer will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, at ANB Founders Hall. To learn more, keep watching this site. A slideshow of scenes from the second market is below.

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• Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event is Sunday, March 20

Mark your calendars, because the 2011 “Let’s Grow Sitka” gardening education event opens at noon and runs until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street. Celebrate the first day of spring and get ready to garden.

This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers. This year’s theme is “Adding edibles to your landscape — focus on fruit trees and berry bushes.”

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau will be on hand to provide expertise during the show. Buyarski will give a special presentation on “Growing Fruit in Southeast Alaska” at 11 a.m. on March 20 at ANB Hall (just before the show opens).

Buyarski also will lead some free hands-on tree pruning workshops on Saturday, March 19, with the first tree pruning workshop at 10:30 a.m. at the trees outside Patty Bickar’s house, 310 Cascade (at the top of the hill). The tree pruning workshops will continue Saturday afternoon at the trees outside the home of Tory O’Connell, 608 Etolin Way (off Baranof Street downtown). Buyarski will provide instruction on how to properly prune the trees and bushes to encourage fruit production and maintain healthy growth. Pruning needs to be done before the trees bud, so NOW is the time to get it done. The tree pruning workshops are hosted by the Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative.

The Sitka Local Foods Network encourages people to share their knowledge by hosting a booth or posting an educational display about a specific garden topic. We especially want people with experience growing fruit trees to share their knowledge about growing apple, cherry or crabapple trees in Sitka; growing strawberries; growing rhubarb; growing unusual berry varieties that do well in our climate such as aronia, sea buckthorn, honeysuckle (fruiting), gooseberry, currant and elderberry; and how to legally transplant and cultivate wild berry bushes to your property.

In addition, you can learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, how to raise chickens and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 6-20.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information about Let’s Grow Sitka or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson at lawilson87@hotmail.com or call her at 747-3096 (in the evenings or on weekends only). She also has information about the tree pruning workshops.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from:

  • True Value Garden Center (type Sitka or 99835 into the store locator search bar) — garden supplies
  • White’s, Inc/Harry Race Pharmacy — garden books, magazines, accessories
  • Garden Ventures — lots of lovely primroses for sale along with garden supplies
  • Lori Adams — Down-To-Earth U-Pick garden promotion
  • Andrew Thoms — raising chickens and chicks for sale (Andrew suggests anybody wanting to buy chicks contact him as soon as possible so he can start incubating the eggs. He can be reached at 747-3747 or andrew@sitkawild.org.)
  • Eve Grutter — jams for sale, garden and raising chickens expertise to share
  • Sitka Local Foods Network — garden information and volunteer sign up
  • Sitka Farmers Market — tomato plant starts for sale, Farmers Market information
  • St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm — seed starter kits
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — information on growing your own fruit trees and berry bushes in Sitka
  • Sitka Fruit Tree Initiative — community fruit tree mapping project
  • Sitka Seed Savers — information on how to save your own garden seed, and a sign up to participate in an educational workshop on how to save vegetable seed and start a seed savers group in Sitka
  • Display and information handouts on growing rhubarb and its nutritional benefits
  • UAF Cooperative Extension Service — lots of free garden handouts
  • Ed Buyarski of Ed’s Edible Landscaping in Juneau — edible landscaping

• Let’s Grow Sitka event flier for March 20, 2011, at ANB Hall (please print and post around town)

• Second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer takes place this Saturday (July 31) at ANB Hall

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2010 summer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). This is the second of this summer’s five big markets that started on July 17 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 11. The remaining markets will be Aug. 14, 28 and Sept. 11 at ANB Hall. A smaller market will be held on Sept. 25 at the Crescent Harbor shelter as part of the annual Running of the Boots fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network (more details on this event later).

The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts. The markets feature wild local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun.

Because many Sitka residents had concerns about food security and how they could access more local food, the Sitka Farmers Market and Sitka Local Foods Networks started out as community projects that came out of a health priority planning meeting during the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. The markets are sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

Vendor fees are just $15 per market. Due to construction in the parking lot, only indoor booth space is available this year. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. To learn more or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Coordinator Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or e-mail lawilson87@hotmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at this link.

Also, don’t forget that you can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, by clicking this link or the logo in the right-hand column and following the prompts. As of Thursday night (July 29), the Sitka Farmers Market was the leading vote-getter among Alaska’s markets participating in the contest, but we only had a five-vote lead over HomeGrown Market of Fairbanks. You can vote through the end of August, but only once per computer.

• Sitka Farmers Market’s third season opens on Saturday, July 17, at ANB Hall

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its third summer of Sitka Farmers Markets with five markets that start on July 17 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 11. The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.

The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 17, 31, Aug. 14, 28 and Sept. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. You also can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest by following the links at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

Sitka Local Foods Network board members Natalie Sattler, left, with parsnips, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, with turnips, and Doug Osborne, right, with turnips, show off some of the produce for sale at the final Sitka Farmers Market of 2009.

Sitka Local Foods Network board members Natalie Sattler, left, with parsnips, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, with turnips, and Doug Osborne, right, with turnips, show off some of the produce for sale at the final Sitka Farmers Market of 2009.

As a bonus, Medicine For The People, one of the bands in Sitka for this weekend’s Homeskillet Fest 2010, will play during this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is like a carnival every other Saturday,” said Kerry MacLane, Sitka Local Foods Network Board President and Co-Coordinator of the Sitka Farmers Market. “It’s a fun community space to enjoy with your family or to meet your friends for fresh coffee and baked goods. There is live music, cooking demonstrations, art, and, of course, fresh veggies, fruit and seafood.”

“In 1970 there were only 340 farmers markets in America, and by 2006 there were more than 4,385. I think this dramatic growth is attributed to the many layers of social and economic benefits these markets offer,” said Doug Osborne, a health educator at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). “Last year, several participants said Sitka’s markets were among the highlights of their summer.”

The Sitka Farmers Market started as a community project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. This event is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

Vendor fees are just $15 per market. Due to construction in the parking lot, only indoor booth space is available this year. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. To learn more or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers Market Co-Coordinator Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or e-mail lawilson87@hotmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

• Deadline nears for getting food and other entries to the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines

The deadline for getting your local entries ready for the Southeast Alaska State Fair is this week if you want to take advantage of free shipping from Sitka.

Jeanette Berry, the Sitka town representative for the fair, needs to have all non-perishable entries packed and delivered to the Alaska Marine Lines office in Sitka by the afternoon of Thursday, July 8, so they can be loaded onto the Tuesday, July 13, barge to Haines. She can provide assistance and free shipping on the entries that will be barged to Haines. Perishable items will be flown to Haines, but free shipping may not available on those items (Jeanette is researching to see what shipping rates might be for perishable items).

The Southeast Alaska State Fair takes place from July 29 through Aug. 1 at the Haines Fairgrounds, just outside Haines. The fair provides a regional showcase for agricultural and domestic arts, creative arts and crafts, and the opportunity for educational, cross-cultural and social exchange.

There are exhibits for a wide variety of food items, from big veggies to jams and jellies, even homemade beer and wine. There are hundreds of categories to enter, so click this link and download the 59-page exhibitor’s guide book for information about what types of items can be entered and how the entries should be prepared.

To learn more about how Jeanette can help you ship your entries to Haines, call her at 747-3222 (home) or 1-360-271-8197 (cell). It’s not too late to share your talents with other residents of Southeast Alaska.

2010 Southeast Alaska State Fair exhibitor’s guide book (PDF file)

• Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service writes about preserving Alaska wild berries

Dr. Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Juneau office displays some wild berry preserves

Dr. Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service's Juneau office displays some wild berry preserves

Preserving Alaska’s Wild Berries

By Dr. Sonja Koukel, PhD
Health, Home & Family Development Program
UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau Office

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Is your freezer teeming with berries harvested last season? If so, now is the time to preserve them in jams, jellies, or syrups. As the winter days grow darker and shorter, preserving berries provides an emotional uplift as the activity brings with it memories of sunshine and relaxing hours spent in the beauty that is Alaska.

While freezing is an acceptable preservation method for berries, it is not the most economical and there is the risk of power outages that could compromise the storage time. Freezing is the least time consuming method of food storage than canning.  However, when foods are home canned, they enjoy a longer shelf life, can be stored at room temperature, and are not affected by power outages.

Berries are a high acid food; therefore jams and jellies can be processed quickly and easily using the boiling water canning method. In this method, filled jars are covered with boiling water and heated to an internal temperature of 212 degrees (F). At this temperature, bacteria, yeasts and molds that could be a health hazard or cause the food to spoil are destroyed. Additionally, the hot water inactivates enzymes that cause foods to spoil. The canning process removes air from the jar and a vacuum seal is formed when the product cools. The seal prevents air from getting back into the product, bringing with it microorganisms that could recontaminate the food.

As mentioned, removing the air from the jar is important as microorganisms will not thrive in an anaerobic environment. Presented with these facts, some individuals question the “inversion” method that is often included along with the directions found in purchased packages of pectin. According to this method, the filled, hot jars are turned upside-down after the rings have been screwed onto the tops. After five minutes, the jar is turned upright to cool, after which it is stored on pantry shelves. The problem with this method is that the air has not been exhausted from the jar, which can encourage mold growth. To ensure food quality and safety, all jellied products are processed in a boiling water canner.

Recipes for jams and jellies are available in packages of pectin, cook books, magazines, and food preservation guides. For Alaska berries, check out the UAF Cooperative Extension Service publication, “Collecting and Using Alaska’s Wild Berries and Other Wild Products.” A best-seller, this publication provides berry facts, storage and preservation methods, and recipes. Blueberries, currants, highbush cranberries, and red huckleberries can be found along with fireweed and wild roses. Over the holiday season, the “Berry Book” is offered at the reduced rate of $7. Contact your district office or place an order online at  http://www.uaf.edu/ces/pubs

If you have never preserved jams or jellies, or would like to review the process, visit the UAF Cooperative Extension Service website for fact sheets that can be downloaded free to your home computer: http://www.uaf.edu/ces/pubs/catalog/. Newly released educational modules can be viewed online: http://www.uaf.edu/ces/preservingalaskasbounty/index.html.

Alaska wild berry preserves are a great treat

Alaska wild berry preserves are a great treat