Sustainable Table: OSU Extension Service

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MEDFORD, Ore. — The summer and fall harvests in Oregon are worth waiting for, but by learning a few tricks you can eat local all year long. Jennifer Levin is a University of Oregon professor by day, but also a Master Food Preserver with the OSU Extension Service.

“Sauerkraut is a great example of a fermented food,” said Levin. “It’s something that appeals to just about everybody, young and old.”

Levin described the process of making this food as fairly easy.

“You need the cabbage and you need the salt. That’s it,” said Levin. “You need to slice the cabbage as finely as you can. What you do is you get the salt and kind of break up the cabbage shreds so you get the liquid exuding. What you’re doing is you’re breaking down the cells here. Once you do that, then you want to pack it really firmly into your jar. The salt starts to act on the cabbage and break it down, then the lactic bacteria starts to form in the cabbage and make it sour. That’s it. It’s really easy,” Levin concluded.

Most other recipes aren’t that easy, which is why it helps to get some hands-on training through one of the Extension Service’s classes.

“They’re absolutely the best bargain in town,” said Levin. “You get instruction, recipes, hands-on training, samples, and you get all kinds of benefits from a very cheap class.”

The Jackson County Commissioners have agreed to fund the Extension Office through December – meaning these types of classes will stick around for awhile. However, the Extension Office will have to reduce its budget or find alternative funding in the future.

If you’d like to learn more about helping the Extension Service or suggest solutions, you can attend the Friends of Extension Meeting held every Friday at 6:00 PM in the Extension Auditorium.