Writer: D'Lyn Ford
ALCALDE-Gardeners, homemakers, commercial growers and others can learn how to dehydrate foods for home use or sale at hands-on workshops Aug. 26 and 27 in Alcalde and Los Lunas.
Home economists and agricultural specialists from New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service will teach participants how to dry fruits, vegetables, meats and fish and how to make tasty products from dried foods, said Del Jimenez, agricultural specialist with Extension's Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project, based in Alcalde.
"There's a lot of public interest now in food dehydration, because it's harvest season and people want to learn how to preserve their fruits and vegetables," Jimenez said. "The workshops include lots of demonstrations. It's for everybody, even outdoors people who want to take trail mix and other dehydrated foods when they go hiking and camping."
At the workshops, Jimenez will talk about the history of dehydration.
"It's been around for centuries," Jimenez said. "The earliest civilizations used dehydration to store food for winter or to provide lasting supplies for explorers, hunters and travelers. But today, many people know nothing about it, because they just buy their food in stores."
Fruit specialist Ron Walser will show how to dry and preserve fruits. He'll demonstrate how to make fruit rolls and leathers by drying and blending fruit into a paste and then rolling it up with nuts, cheese and other ingredients, Jimenez said.
"The rolls and leathers are healthy, sweet snacks that are much better for you than candies and other artificial sugar products," Jimenez said.
Horticulture specialist George Dickerson will show how to dry vegetables, herbs and flowers, and how to make potpourri, or natural herb-based scents, Jimemez said.
Home economists Roberta Rios and Patricia Aaron will teach jerky making and provide recipes. Rios will demonstrate proper meat cutting and drying for jerkies, how to make brines and sauces, and how to store dehydrated meat. Aaron will show how to use dried fruits and vegetables in recipes for trail mixes, drinks and other products.
Agricultural specialist Charles Martin will talk about how dehydrators work. He'll discuss ancient dehydrating methods and commercial and homemade dehydrators.
"He'll take one apart to show its components, and he'll demonstrate how to make one at home for participants who don't want to buy one," Jimenez said.
Anita Roy, food specialist with the New Mexico Environment Department, will discuss state rules and regulations for selling dehydrated products. Extension food technology specialist Nancy Flores will talk about production costs and prices for commercial sales.
The Alcalde workshop will take place Aug. 26 at NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at 370 Alcalde St. The Los Lunas event will be Aug. 27 at the Cantine Building at 1000 Main St.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. for both workshops, which run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cost is $10 per person. Participants are encouraged to preregister.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call (505) 852-2668.
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