Author: Nora Rhoades

Free Online Food Preservation Series

University of Nebraska Extension is hosting a FREE Food Preservation Virtual Learning Series. Each session will include a short presentation and time for discussion and question/answer on any food preservation related topic. All sessions will be taught online through zoom and pre-registration is required. The session details are below:

  • August 5, 6:30 p.m: Food Preservation 101
  • August 19, 6:30 p.m: Boiling Water Canning/Steam Canning/Pressure Canning
  • September 2, 6:30 p.m: Freezing/Dehydrating

Each Zoom session will be recorded and a link to the recording will be sent to all participants who register. Sessions will be led by Nebraska Extension’s Food Preservation Team.

For more information and to register, please follow this link:

By: Ashley Svaty

Electric Multi-Cookers Are Not Canners

Ashley Svaty
Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Canning season is in full swing and we must remember to only use SAFE and trusted preservation techniques and recipes. It is critical to use scientifically tested recipes when canning and while some electric multi-cookers have a “canning” button, no research is available to back up this function. Use these appliances for cooking only! Find safe and trusted recipes here: or call any Post Rock District office and we would be happy to help!

By: Ashley Svaty

Fertilizing Strawberries

Strawberry beds might be done producing for the summer, but that doesn’t mean we can forget them. An August application of nitrogen on spring-bearing strawberries is important in order to increase the number of strawberries produced next spring. Plenty of daylight and warm temperatures during June, July and August promotes the growth of new runners, or daughter plants. As daylight hours dwindle and temperatures grow cooler in September and October, fruit buds for the next year’s fruit crop develop. To get a good berry crop next spring, it is important for strawberry plants to be vigorous during this period of fruit bud development.

Nitrogen, applied mid-August, will help promote fruit bud development. A general application rate is ½ to 3/4 pound of actual nitrogen per 100 feet of row. The nitrogen may be in the form of a fertilizer mixture such as ammonium phosphate or 12-12-12, or in a fertilizer containing only nitrogen such as urea or ammonium nitrate. Some specific examples would include:

Iron + (11-0-0) at 6 pounds per 100 feet of row.

12-12-12 at 5.5 pounds per 100 feet of row.

Nitrate of Soda (16-0-0) at 4 pounds per 100 feet of row

Ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) at 3 pounds per 100 feet of row

Urea (46-0-0) at 1.5 pounds per 100 feet of row

By: Cassie Homan

Social Media Privacy Settings

The online community created by social media platforms can provide several rewards – new friends, entertainment, education – but along with that can raise the concern for privacy risks. It is smart to have limits as to what is revealed and to whom.

Here are some social media privacy best practices:

  1. Do your due diligence – Check the social media platforms privacy policy before opening an account. Find out how your personal information could be used, and how much control you have over your privacy.
  2. Be discreet – You don’t have to fill in every field when creating your profile. Also, don’t post information about your vacation plans, interior of your home etc., things that might make you more attractive to scam artists or thieves.
  3. Think before you share – Remember that things you share could very well be shared outside your intended audience. Ask yourself “what would my parents, teachers, colleges, current or future employer, lender, law enforcement etc. think about this?” Protect your “e-reputation”.
  4. Enlist your friends – Real friends will care about your reputation and respect your privacy. If someone has posted something in their own social media account that could affect you, ask them to remove it.
  5. Smaller is often safer – Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know just to build your audience. You may not know them well enough to trust them which could increase risk that your privacy and security could be compromised.
  6. Lock intruders out – Use every safety precaution to keep others out of your account. Set strong passwords, use a different password for each social media account, and lock your phone so a password is required.
  7. Keep your whereabouts to your self – Telling your audience that you are out of town, at the airport, or on a two-week vacation could put you at risk for burglary, stalking etc.
  8. Resist temptation – Don’t click on unknown links, which could be designed to infect your computer with a virus or data stealing spyware.

By: Brenda Langdon

Tomatoes Slow to Ripen?

The hot weather we have had recently not only interferes with flower pollination but also can affect how quickly fruit matures. The best temperature for tomato growth and fruit development is 85 to 90F. When temperatures exceed 100 degrees, the plant goes into survival mode and concentrates on moving water. Fruit development slows to a crawl. When temperatures moderate, even to the low to mid 90s, the fruit will ripen more quickly.

Tomato color can also be affected by heat. When temperatures rise above 95 degrees F, red pigments don’t form properly though the orange and yellow pigments do. This results in orange fruit. This doesn’t affect the edibility of the tomato, but often gardeners want that deep red color back.

So, can we do anything to help our tomatoes ripen and have good color during extreme heat? Sure, there is. We can pick tomatoes in the “breaker” stage. Breaker stage tomatoes are those that have started to turn color. At this point, the tomato has cut itself off from the vine and nothing will be gained by keeping it on the plant. If tomatoes are picked at this stage and brought into an air-conditioned house, they will ripen more quickly and develop a good, red color. A temperature of 75 to 85 degrees F will work well.

By: Cassie Homan

Preserving Tomatoes

Tomatoes may have that tasty zing that makes them tart and tasty. But in reality, they are not as acidic as they seem, especially when canning tomatoes.

Tomatoes have a pH value around 4.6 which makes them unsafe to can by themselves, with many varieties above 4.6. All tomatoes must be acidified with either citric acid, bottled lemon juice, or vinegar with 5% acidity in both water bath and pressure canning processing.

Without this added acid, tomatoes will likely ferment and spoil. Learn more in Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Tomatoes.

By: Ashley Svaty