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Fermentation Workshop



Fermentation Workshop

By Tami Reece UCCE Master Food Preserver


I am interested in fermenting. Is it hard to make kombucha or sauerkraut?  Kim W. San Luis Obispo


Fermenting foods involves a few simple steps. It does not require any refrigeration, preserving methods or special equipment but does require a little chemistry.  Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage using salt whereas kombucha is fermented tea using sugar.

Sauerkraut is very fun to make. It is the process of mixing shredded cabbage and salt and packing it in a jar or crock and placing in a dark place for 3 to 4 weeks. It is important you store your sauerkraut at 70 to 75 degrees for fermenting. At 60 to 65 degrees the sauerkraut will take longer to ferment and below 60 it will not ferment at all. Above 75 degrees and your sauerkraut will become soft and mushy.  Afterwards, you can preserve your sauerkraut using the boiling water method, but I usually place mine in the fridge. It will last several months but mine never seems to make it past a couple of weeks!

Kombucha contains many healthy bacteria known as probiotics due to the fermentation process. It consists of black or green tea and sugar in various forms such as cane sugar, fruit or honey. It is made by fermenting the tea and sugar with a SCOBY which is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. SCOBIES can be found on-line, in local stores, from friends, or with a little patience you can grow your own from raw kombucha purchased at a store.

It is important to use a reputable recipe for both these processes. If you do not use the correct ratio of salt to cabbage you could end up with a non-fermented product or mold.  With[DR1]  kombucha, if you do not add enough sugar at the start or during the process, the SCOBY will not have anything to feed on and your tea will not ferment.

Join us to learn more at the UCCE Master Food Preservers' Fermentation Workshop on Saturday August 25 from 10:00 to 12:00 p.m. at 2156 Sierra Way in the auditorium next to the parking lot. Cost of the workshop is $10.   If you are interested in attending, please make reservations at http://ucanr.edu/fermentation2018 .



Posted on Friday, August 17, 2018 at 1:27 PM

Opportunity knocks for aspiring naturalists in California

The California Naturalist program will be offered in an eight-day immersion course in Cambria this month, and in a slower-paced eight-week program that starts in September in San Luis Obispo, reported Michele Roest in the San Luis Obispo Tribune. California Naturalist sessions begin in September in a wide range of California locations, including Pasadena, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and Yosemite National Park.

In all cases, fulfilling the course requirements will allow participants to join the growing ranks of California Naturalists in the Golden State, which number nearly 2,000.

The California Naturalist training involves both classroom and field sessions.

In her article, Roest likens California Naturalists to the well-known UC Master Gardeners. Master Gardener volunteers share research-based gardening information with the public. California Naturalists extend information to the public about natural California. The CalNat program also offers volunteers the opportunity to participate in nature-based activities in other capacities, such as citizen science, service to partner organizations or hands-on conservation.

The eight-day class in Cambria, Roest wrote, provides comprehensive information on "everything from algae to zebras." Zebras in California? There are a few who wander the land around Hearst Castle along Highway 1, descendants of zebras brought to San Simeon by the late Randolph Hearst.

The eight week program is offered in collaboration with Cuesta College. 

"The program is ideal for adults who want to strengthen their knowledge and understanding of California's natural history," the article said. 

It's a resume-builder for those seeking jobs in environmental fields, and includes the option of four units of transferable UC credit for students.

Posted on Friday, August 17, 2018 at 9:40 AM

Noah Crockette: From an 11-Year-Old Bohart Intern to an 18-Year-Old Entomology Student at Cornell

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, shares a laugh with Noah Crockette, now an entomology major at Cornell. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

“Go as far as you can [young scientists]. The world needs you badly.”—E.O Wilson. That sign greets...

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 3:23 PM

National Honey Bee Day 2018: Brush up on your knowledge of bee protection

Celebrate National Honey Bee Day by brushing up on your knowledge of bee protection—check out the newly revised Best Management Practices to Protect Bees from Pesticides and Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratingsfrom UC IPM. These resources will help you strike the right balance between applying pesticides to protect crops and reducing the risk of harming our most important pollinators.   

The best management practices now contain important information regarding the use of adjuvants and tank mixes, preventing the movement of pesticide-contaminated dust, and adjusting chemigation practices to reduce bee exposure to pesticide-contaminated water. The Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings have also been updated to include ratings for 38 new pesticides, including insecticides (baits, mixtures, and biological active ingredients), molluscicides (for snail and slug control), and fungicides.

Most tree and row crops are finished blooming by now, but it is a good idea to learn about bee protection year-round. Visit these resources today to choose pesticides that are least toxic to bees and learn how you can help prevent bees from being harmed by pesticide applications.


Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 8:04 AM
  • Author: Stephanie Parreira

Apricot Tree Showing Signs of Brown Rot

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Apricot Tree Showing Signs of Brown Rot
by Chantal Guillemin , Master Gardener

Request:  My Royal (Blenheim) apricot tree usually produces delicious fruit, but this year almost all had brown discoloration. Globs of golden sap ooze out in many places along branches and the ends of some branches have brown, withered leaves and dead flowers. What kind of disease is affecting my apricot tree?  What can I do about it?

Brown Rot on Blossom
Photo by Jack Kelly Clark, courtesy UC Statewide IPM Program

Response:  Thanks for contacting the Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County about the problems with the brown spots appearing on your apricot fruit.

Expanding dark brown, firm, circular spots on apricots are symptomatic of a very common and serious disease of stone fruit called brown rot. The exudation (oozing) of sticky droplets of gum (sap) from the base of dead flowers and the bark of infected twigs is further indication that Monolinia spp., the brown rot fungus, is present on your apricot tree. Brown rot can also infect other stone fruit such as almond, peach, plum, cherry, nectarine and quince (a pome fruit).

The first symptom of brown rot is the browning and withering of blossoms. These infected blossoms cling to twigs for months. Cankers, which are sunken brown areas, may develop around twigs at the base of infected flowers, causing leaves at tips of twigs to become dark brown and shrivel up.

Brown Rot on Apricot Fruit
Photo by William W. Coates, courtesy UC Statewide IPM Program
survives from the previous season as velvety, grey or tan tufts of spores. After rains are over, these tiny spores remain on host blossoms, peduncles (stalk where flower attach), and twigs. They, along with mummified fruit remaining on the tree or on the ground, are the sources (inoculum) for blossom infection. This inoculum can germinate in 2-4 hours and spread to blossoms by air current, rain splash and insects. If flowers are not wet from rain or irrigation, very little blossom blight will develop. Monolinia can also affect green fruit in early summer, and as most rot develops during the month before harvest, fruit is most susceptible to brown rot as it ripens. Fruit rot can develop while fruit is on the tree or post harvest while it is in storage. You can minimize post harvest brown spot by chilling harvested apricots destined for home consumption.

Gardeners in Contra Costa County can practice the following sanitation measures to decrease the spread of brown rot fungal disease:  frequent checking of stone fruit trees for signs of brown rot, timely and appropriate pruning, furrow or drip irrigating versus overhead sprinklers, and planting disease tolerant varieties.

Inspect your apricot and other stone fruit trees nearby often for symptoms of brown rot. Do this during the bloom period, as fruit turn green, and when they begin to ripen. Consider harvesting fruit before it is ripe but once it is soft will lessen the risk of brown rot. After harvest, remove all fruit left on trees or destroy them because they are potential overwintering sites for brown rot. Ensuring that gardening sanitation tasks are performed on a regular basis will go a long way to minimizing the development of spores from mummified fruit hidden beneath weeds and debris on the ground.

As for apricot trees, pruning should never be done during winter dormancy. That's our wet season, and atmospheric moisture carries airborne spores and pathogens. Apricot and cherry trees are particularly susceptible to Eutypa dieback, a disease which causes whole branches to wither away. Do not inflict pruning wounds on apricot trees at this time. Pruning diseased twigs and dead blossoms still clinging to branches of apricot trees should be done after leaves drop but before the first fall rains.

Other stone fruit require the same removal of infected plant tissue but this can be done as soon as these are detected. Burn, bury or bag all diseased branches and leaves. Destruction of these affected parts and the removal of mummies from the tree and from beneath the tree prevents the buildup of brown rot inoculum. This applies to flowering cherry, plum and quince as well. Do not put diseased plant parts in compost. Remove broken or diseased branches. Prune trees from the time they are planted to allow good ventilation in the canopy.  

Avoid wetting blossoms, foliage, and fruit during irrigation by using furrow or drip irrigation. As far as prunes are concerned, drying them immediately after harvest kills the brown rot fungus.

Some plant varieties are known to be least susceptible to brown rot. Apricot cultivars Tilton, Harcot, and Harglow are touted to have some brown rot resistance.  Royal, Blenheim, Perfection, and Derby Roal are most susceptible to this fungal infection.

If left unmonitored, brown rot fungal infection of apricots and other stone fruit can thwart homeowner's plans for a harvest of healthy fruit. Familiarization with brown rot symptoms and taking action to remove sources of brown rot spores can alleviate the problem of brown rot fungal infection on apricots and other stone fruit.

For additional information, you can also consult:
UCANR publication 7259, Apricots: Calendar of Operations for Home Gardeners;
UCANR publication Pests in Garden and Landscapes – Brown Rot Monilinia spp.;
UCANR publication 3332, Pests of the Garden and Small Farm, pp 144-145; 
UCANR publication 3382, California Master Gardener Handbook Chapter 16
UCANR publication 3311, Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops
UCANR publication 3345, Diseases of Temperate Zone Tree Fruit and Nut Crops
UCANR publication 3485, The Home Orchard

Those not available as free download UC publications are often available at your local branch library or by mail order from UCANR.

Please do not hesitate to contact the MGCC'S Help Desk if you have further questions and/or need recommendations.

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (CCG)

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available almost year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays (e.g., last 2 weeks December), we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 2380 Bisso Lane, Concord, CA 94520. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925) 608-6683, email: ccmg@ucanr.edu, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/. MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog  (//ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at 12:15 AM

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