Q. I read in the Tri-City Herald last week that asparagus harvest is starting. I would like to try canning some pickled asparagus this year. Do I need to worry about the safety of home-canned pickled asparagus?
A. Pickled asparagus is a popular product for home canning in our area. There are safety checks, and if not done correctly, it can cause botulism poisoning. Vinegar is the first “check.”
There must be at least as much vinegar as water (i.e. a 1:1 ratio). If a recipe calls for less vinegar than water, increase the quantity of vinegar to equal the water. All vinegars used for pickling must be 5 percent acidity, and it will state this on the label. Any flavor of vinegar can be used, as long as it has 5 percent acidity. White vinegar has a sharp, pungent taste. Cider vinegar has a more mellow taste, but does not make as clear a brine as white vinegar.
Once prepared, jars of pickled asparagus must be processed in a boiling water canner. If you would like some pickled asparagus recipes, or the processing time for your recipe, call the Benton County Extension office at 509-735-3551 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. I was told not to plant an apple tree because of the codling moth. What is the codling moth and what does it do to an apple tree?
A. The codling moth is an insect that causes large economic losses in commercial tree fruit in Washington. Homeowners are required to control this pest with either pesticides or exclusion (bagging individual apples). The larvae burrow into the apple and leave small, round, brown frass near the entrance hole. Without proper control we would have a worm in every apple. We encourage homeowners not to plant apple trees.
Q. One of the many questions we get in the extension office is what is 4-H?
A. 4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. 4-H is young people making new friends and memories while preparing to be leaders of today and tomorrow.
The 4-H program is a volunteer-led organization that reaches boys and girls through small groups called clubs and sometimes classrooms. 4-H members choose from more than 40 projects in which to participate during the 4-H calendar year. Most projects use hands-on learning experiences to teach subject matter and life-skills such as cooperation, leadership and decision-making — skills that can be applied over and over for a lifetime.