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Georgia Consumer: Its summer produce season in Georgia
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Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin is reminding consumers that summer produce season is in full swing in Georgia.

"Many of our signature crops are now in season, and they are widely available at farmers markets, direct from the farm, or in grocery stores," Irvin said.

Some of Irvin’s comments about popular Georgia crops:

Peaches: "Georgia peaches are ready to be made into hot cobblers or cool smoothies or to be eaten fresh — the way I like best — with the juice dripping down my chin. I don’t care if it’s yellow or white, cling or freestone, as long as it’s from Georgia."

Cantaloupes: "Cantaloupes are sweet, refreshing and versatile. I like eating one for breakfast along with my grits and eggs."

Tomatoes: "Georgia-grown tomatoes have been declared safe by the Food and Drug Administration, and I am declaring that they are delicious on sandwiches or as a side dish. I also like to fry them when green."

Blueberries: "Blueberries are a healthy summertime snack and are great on cereal or in fruit salads. Pies, muffins and cobblers are just a few of the delicious dishes that can be made with fresh Georgia blueberries. And blueberries can be frozen for use later."

Watermelons: "I’d celebrate Independence Day without fireworks before I’d skip my Fourth of July Georgia watermelon."

Vidalia onions: "Others claim to be similar, but the sweet Vidalia onion people all over the world have come to love is only from Georgia."

Some of the other Georgia produce in season this summer includes sweet corn, cabbage, cucumbers, lima beans, pole beans, field peas and squash.

"I always tell people if they want the freshest fruits and vegetables to look for those grown right here in Georgia," Irvin said.

Question: As one of our summer projects, my sister and I want to make jellied fruit. Can you tell us how?

Answer: Yes, jelly, jam, preserves, conserves and marmalade are basically alike. All are fruit preserved by means of sugar and all are jellied to some extent. For a specific recipe and/or directions please contact Teresa Jenkins in the office of Consumer Affairs at 800-282-5852.

Q: Why should cooked jelly be made in small batches?

A: If a larger quantity of juice is used, it will be necessary to boil it longer thus causing loss of flavor, darkening of jelly and toughening of jelly.

Q: Should the jelly be boiled slowly or rapidly?

A: It should be boiled rapidly since long, slow boiling destroys the pectin in the fruit juice.

Q: What do I do if there is mold on my jellied fruit product?

A: If the mold is extensive, discard all of the product. If the mold is just slight on the surface, discard the mold and « inch of the good product underneath. Though mold growth can change the pH of products, the high sugar concentration would prevent any danger of botulism.

Q: Why did my jelled fruit product ferment, and what do I do with it?

A: Jellied fruit products may ferment because of yeast growth. This can occur if the product is improperly processed and sealed, or if the sugar content is too low. Fermented fruit products have a disagreeable taste. Discard them.

If you have questions or problems with services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture you may write the Office of Public Affairs, 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Room 226, Atlanta, GA 30334 or call 800-282-5852. This column appears Sundays.

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