NDSU Extension Service - Benson County


Food Preservation

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Properly Preserving Squash

A Taste

For Nutrition

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent

Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science


Properly Preserving Squash

If you happen to have a garden and planted any type of squash, you may be feeling overwhelmed.  Your family may be telling you they can only eat so much squash.  If this is the case, try preserving your summer squash in a variety of ways.


Canning is not a recommended preservation method for squash because of its high water, luckily though, there are a variety of other preservation options.


Freezing is a great preservation method and can be done by either slicing or grating the squash.  Here is the procedure depending on which freezing option you choose.


• Sliced: Wash the squash in cool water and trim the ends. Slice the squash into even-sized pieces and remove the seeds. Blanch in boiling water for three minutes. Cool promptly, then package into freezer-safe containers or freezer bags, leaving ½ inch head space. Label with the contents and date.


• Grated: Choose young, tender squash. Wash and grate it. Steam blanch in small quantities for one to two minutes until translucent. Pack in measured amounts into containers, leaving ½ inch head space. Cool by placing the packed containers or bags in cold water. Dry package and freeze the contents.  It is important to note when thawing packages that the squash may be watery, discard any liquid before adding it to your recipes.


Squash can also be dried.  To dry it, Wash the summer squash and slice ¼ inch thick. Spread it evenly onto the dehydrator trays and dehydrate it at 115 F for six to 12 hours or until crisp. Let cool and transfer to an airtight container as soon as possible.


Below is a recipe for taco summer squash boats.  It is just one more way to incorporate all of your garden squash into your meals.  Enjoy!


Taco Summer Squash Boats



  • 6 medium summer squash, cut in half lengthwise
  • ½ c. salsa
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ½ small onion, chopped fine
  • ½ c. bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 (4-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • ¼ c. water
  • ½ c. shredded cheese
  • ¼ c. cilantro


Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the squash in the boiling water for two minutes, then place on a paper towel to drain. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Scrape out the flesh of the squash, reserving 1 cup for this recipe and using the rest in other recipes or freezing it as described. Spoon ¼ cup salsa into the bottom of a large baking dish and arrange squash face up. Set aside. Brown turkey in a large skillet until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning, onion, pepper, cilantro, reserved squash, tomato sauce and water and stir to combine. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Fill each squash boat with the turkey mixture, then top with cheese. Cover with foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until squash is fork tender and cheese is melted. Garnish and serve with salsa.

Makes ten servings.  Each serving contains 110 calories, 10 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 140 mg sodium, 1 gram fiber and 4 grams protein.


  • NDSU Extension Service, Summer Squash, February 2017
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Stop the Food Waste

A Taste

For Nutrition

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent

Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science


Stop the Food Waste

Did you know that 3500 calories of food are produced per person per day in the United States?  This is a pretty shocking number, considering most Americans need 2000 calories or less per day, and there are still many that do not get the food they need each day. 

Some food waste is industrial, but surprisingly, 45% of food waste is residential.  It is our responsibility to do what we can to avoid wasting food.  The food we wasted most often is dairy foods, however, foods from all of the food groups find their way to the trash can more often than they should.  Here are a few tips to reduce the amount of waste in your household:

  • Check what food is in your pantry before you go grocery shopping.  This can avoid buying items you already have plenty of.
  • Grocery shop with a list.  Only buy items you know you will use in the near future, or before they expire. 
  • Use a cooler bag to keep frozen foods or dairy products (such as milk) cold.  Even if it is cooler outside, keep in mind the temperature of the vehicle you are traveling in. 
  • Reuse or refreeze leftovers.  If you cook a large family meal such as a ham or turkey, freeze the extras and use them in hot dishes, pot pies, or any other dinner creation you can think of.

    If you do happen to buy more food than you think your family will be able to eat, or buy something that was already in your cupboard, consider donating it to a local food pantry.  After all, the best way to get rid of our extra food is to give it away.

    Here is a recipe for whole wheat pancakes.  A great way to use up some ingredients you may have on hand before they go to waste.  You can also add fresh or frozen fruit to the mix for added flavor.  Enjoy!

    Whole Wheat Pancakes


    • 1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 egg, large
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, 1%
    • 1 tablespoon oil

      Directions: Preheat griddle. In medium bowl, stir or sift dry ingredients together.  In a separate bowl, beat egg, buttermilk, brown sugar and oil together. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened; batter should be slightly lumpy.  Pour 1/4 cup batter for each pancake onto sprayed or seasoned hot griddle.  Flip the pancake when bubbles appear on surface; turn only once.  Enjoy!

      Makes: 12 servings.  Each serving contains 80 calories, 2 grams of fat, 170 mg of sodium, 12 carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. 



      • Six Ways to Reduce Wasted Foods, Midwest Dairy Council
      • Original Publication: FN695, "Now Serving Whole Grains". North Dakota State University Extension Service
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Prepare to Preserve

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

Before you begin preserving your produce, there is a fair amount of preparation involved.  Following the proper preparation guidelines is a great way to ensure the food you will later be consuming is safe. 

First, be sure to wash the jars, lids, and bands in hot, soapy water.  Even if they are new this should be done to ensure all of the unwanted bacteria is gone.  Then, be sure to rinse everything off well.

The jars should be kept warm until you are ready to can.  This is done to ensure that the jars will not break, especially when they are filled with hot foods.  The temperature difference can easily break glass, which is the last thing anyone needs when preserving their produce.  Jars can be heated in a pot of simmering water or in a heated dishwasher. 

Once your canner is prepared for either water bath (used for fruits, pickles, sauerkraut, jams, jellies, marmalades, fruit butters/spreads, and tomatoes if lemon juice or citric is added) or pressure canning (poultry, meat, soup, seafood, and all fresh vegetables with the exception of tomatoes) the jars can be filled.  Follow your canning recipe for guidelines as to how high to fill your jar.  There needs to be some space between the rims to allow for food expansion during the canning process. 

Next, be sure to remove the air bubbles from the jar by using a spatula to press around the sides of the jars.  Finally, wipe the edges of the jars clean, and twist them on so that they are finger tight.  It is important not to over tighten them, as some air needs to escape during the canning process.  From here, you will need to follow the specific instructions based on water bath or pressure canning.  Once your food has been preserved for the recommended amount of time, turn off the heat, and let the jars stand in the water for about 5 minutes.  The jars should then be removed from the water and set on a towel or wire rack for the next 12 hours to cool. 

Here is a recipe for a breakfast burrito with salsa.  The perfect way to use some of the salsa that you canned.  Enjoy!


  • 4 eggs
  • 1/8 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/16 cup tomatoes, fresh (1 Tablespoon, diced)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic
  • hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 4 flour tortillas, 8 inches
  • 1/4 cup salsa (canned)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, blend the eggs, corn, milk, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, mustard, garlic, hot pepper sauce, and salt for 1 minute until eggs are smooth.  Pour egg mixture into a lightly oiled 9x9x2 inch baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until eggs are set and thoroughly cooked.  Wrap tortillas in plastic and microwave for 20 seconds until warm. Be careful when unwrapping the tortillas. The steam can be hot.  Cut baked egg mixture into 4 equal pieces and roll 1 piece of cooked egg in each tortilla.  Serve each burrito topped with 2 Tablespoons of salsa.

Makes 4 servings.  Each serving contains 247 calories, 9 grams of fat, 506 mg sodium, and 30 grams carbohydrates.


  • Ball: Let’s Start Preserving, 2011
  • SDA, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Food Family Fun
  • Questions and Answers About Using a Boiling Water-bath Canner, NDSU Extension, 2015
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Myth Busting: Food Preservation Style

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

As food preservation season approaches, you may hear your friends and neighbors talking about some interesting food preservation techniques.  You may have even found new ideas on Pinterest, or perhaps remembered old canning techniques when you opened one of your well-used church cookbooks.  When it comes to food preservation, if it seems out of the ordinary or outdated, it is most likely unsafe.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture changed their canning guidelines in 1994 and again in 2006 which means that if you are using great-grandma’s recipe for canning your green beans, it is time to find a research base, safe recipe.  NDSU Extension offers up to date, safe recipes for your use at www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/preservation

A popular recipe that seems to be unique to each family is salsa.  It is NOT safe to throw a variety of salsa type ingredients in a jar, can them, and put them on a shelf for later consumption.  If you plan to can salsa, use a recipe from NDSU Extension.  Recipes that are not carefully measured and researched may not be safe to consume through the canning process.  If you do have a favorite family recipe that you simply cannot part with, consider freezing the salsa instead.  This is always safe, and helps to avoid uncertainty. 

When it comes to food preservation, there are many myths that can cause us to get sick, and can even cause fatalities.  Knowing how to preserve our food safely is extremely important.  If you are unsure on how to preserve something, be sure to look for up to date and accurate information.  The UDSA, Extension, and Ball all offer this type of information.  If you have additional questions about food preservation feel free to call the NDSU Extension office in Benson County at 473-5363.

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Safely Preserving Herbs

By Kimberly Braulick, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

If you enjoy adding flavor to your food while keeping it healthy, you may have found some herbs that you enjoy.  Most herbs can be grown in North Dakota and can quickly get out of hand.  If your herb crop is more than you can eat fresh this summer, you may be wondering how to safely preserve it. 

Once your herbs are washed, you can simply put them in an airtight bag and freeze them.  Another popular method of preserving herbs is putting the herbs in ice cube trays, freezing the ice, and then dropping an herb filled ice cube into whatever soup or stew you happen to be making. 

When the ice cubes are fully frozen, put them in a freezer bag with the date and what type of herb.  This will allow you to have fresh flavor throughout the year.

If you do not have an herb crop, not to worry.  Fresh and dried herbs can be easily found locally.  Remember that dried herbs last much longer, but can lose flavor over time.  For best results, store herbs away from direct steam or heat.  It is not recommend to store herbs right next to your stove or in the cupboard above it. 

Herbs can be used in almost everything and are a great side kick to flavorful vegetables such as garlic.  When cooking, consider how strong of an herb flavor you would like.  If you would like a strong flavor, add the herbs at the end.  If you would like the flavor to be more subtle, add the herbs into your meal right away.

Here is a recipe for roasted tomatoes with herbs.  It calls for dried herbs, but feel free to add fresh herbs if they are available.  Enjoy!

Roasted Tomatoes with Herbs


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 6 tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese


Directions:  First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large baking sheet with cooking oil spray.  Then, cut each tomato in half. Place tomatoes on the sheet, cut side up.  Drizzle tomatoes with ½ of the oil and season with pepper.  Cook for 30 minutes, or until tomatoes are beginning to brown on the bottom.  Next, mix the remaining oil, parsley, garlic, and cheese in a small bowl.  Remove tomatoes from the oven and sprinkle the herb mixture over the tomatoes.  Finally, return to oven for another 10 minutes, or until spices begin to brown.

Makes: 6 servings.  Each serving contains 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, 45 mg of sodium, 6 carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, and 5 grams protein. 



  • NDSU Extension Food Wise Newsletter, August 2015
  • Maryland Food Supplement Nutrition Education program, 2009 Recipe Calendar
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