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WSU extension Q&A: March 6, 2010

Q. What is the difference between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?

A. Determinate tomatoes are small, compact plants that grow to a certain height, then flower and set all their fruit within a short time.

The harvest period for determinate tomatoes is generally short, making them good choices for canning.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow, flower, and set fruit until killed by the first fall frost. Thus, the harvest from indeterminate varieties often extends over two or three months. Yields are generally heavier than determinate types, but are usually later to mature.

Indeterminate tomatoes are tall, sprawling plants that often perform best when supported by stakes or a tall wire cage.

Q. When should I prune my grapevines?

A. From February to March is a good time. If you sustained a lot of winter damage you can prune lighter.

Q. I have a stir-fry recipe that uses wine as one of the ingredients. I would like to fix this for my grandchildren, but I'm concerned about the alcohol. Is it true that alcohol evaporates during cooking?

A. For years it was assumed that alcohol evaporated during cooking, so it was not an issue for individuals who should avoid alcohol. However, research shows this is simply not true.

In foods that have alcohol added, some is retained in cooking. How much is retained depends largely on the type of alcohol added, length of the cooking process and type of heat applied.

Distilled spirits are more resistant to heating loss than is wine. The longer the alcohol is heated, the less that remains. It cannot be assumed that cooking evaporates all of the alcohol, especially in a stir-fry. In one study, a pot roast simmered for 2 1/2 hours and still contained 5 percent of the alcohol.

* Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 509-735-3551 or Pasco at 509-545-3511.

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