AMES, Iowa –In 2009 many consumers became gardeners for the first time. Some were catering to their gourmet tastes and some were nurturing a foodie’s love of food, but many others just wanted to save money at the grocery store. In any case, now that the garden is bursting with fruit and vegetables, what’s a first time gardener to do?
Evelyn Beavers suggests calling Iowa State University Extension’s Answer Line to learn how to preserve the summer’s bounty for as long and safely as possible.
“When you call our toll free number, you will speak to a live person and get research-based answers,” she said.
Answer Line, (800) 262-3804, answers consumer questions year round. Professional consumer and family scientists answer questions about child development, cleaning, consumer management, food preparation, food preservation, food safety, home environment, household equipment, nutrition, textiles and laundry. From June through August, food preservation questions top the list, as Iowa and Minnesota gardeners and consumers seek the best way to preserve their homegrown food.
According to Beavers, 2009 has been a big year for beginners of all sorts who are preserving fruits and vegetables for the first time.
“A lot of callers want to make good use of their money by freezing extra fruits and vegetables that they’ve grown in their own gardens or purchased at farmers’ markets. Others are interested in canning. Answer Line can give you tips on how to get safe, high quality food from either process,” Beavers said.
She and her Answer Line colleagues stress food safety in all the food preservation processes they recommend. Answer Line information comes from Iowa State University, USDA and other research-based sources.
Answer Line often recommends callers to ISU Extension publications. A number of food preservation publications are available at low or no cost from the ISU Extension Online Store, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/store/.
Answer Line takes calls at (800) 262-3804, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A Relay Iowa phone linkage for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals is available at (800) 735-2942. The toll-free service is available to Minnesota callers at (800) 854-1678.
Consumers also can e-mail their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, Beavers said. “We reply to e-mail questions during the same hours that we take phone calls.”
A database of Answer Line frequently asked questions and answers is available anytime on the ISU Extension Web site, www.extension.iastate.edu/answerline/.
Laura Sternweis, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0775,