It always pays
to keep your best quality produce for storage. Eat or feed anything
during the season that is marked or blemished. Top quality fruit,
greens, and vegetables store better and are the best keepers.
Even the smallest
of gardens will have a few tomatoes that can be prepared for the birds.
It seems you wait forever for the first ripe tomato, then have far
more ready at one time than you can possibly use. These surplus tomatoes
can be dried to feed birds. If you do not mind the mess involved with
feeding them fresh, they can be offered fresh as well. I feed my birds
dried/dehydrated tomatoes to save that extra time and energy cleaning
birds, cages, and surrounding area after they eat. There is no way
I want to chance missing any of the leftover tomato or juice and have
a sticky mess or the odor. When dried, tomatoes are a bit leathery
and do not crumble into fine dust.
or any other hot peppers grow well and dry easily. Dried peppers can
be fed dried as they are, mixed into the base food mix, or added to
bean mix or other soak and/or cook type food. Chilis here are grown
in rows, and many are fed to birds during the growing season fresh
picked. A few words of caution: If you choose to cut the hot peppers
for your birds instead of feeding the whole pepper, consider wearing
plastic gloves. The gloves will protect your hands from burning and
keep the pepper juice off you hands, so when you touch or scratch
your eyes later they will not burn. Contact wearers, if you do not
wear gloves and later clean or insert your contacts, you will wish
you wore gloves. If your birds are indoors and you have more than
a few pairs, I would suggest you do not give all birds peppers at
one time. If you do and return to the area, you will cough, choke,
and sneeze, and your eyes will water. It is amazing how much pepper
juice can get into the air from all of those fresh peppers being devoured.
Just about anything
can be dried: veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, squashes, seeds
from the like etc.), fruits (apples, bananas, pineapple, apricots,
plums, grapes, papaya, etc), and greens (dark green leafy are best).
I normally mix and store a variety of greens to be sprinkled over
soft food or added to a bean mix or some other cooked food. Keep drying
in mind the next time there is a sale. You can buy extra and dry what
is not fed fresh. In addition to feeding dry, mixed with basic diet,
soft foods, and bean type mixes, some things can be re-hydrated safely.
about a relative's, friend's, or neighbors fruit trees. Most can not
use what the tree's supply, and the excess is gathered, thrown away,
or composted. Often the excess is left to fall on the ground. Some
is eaten by wildlife, but most attracts bees and is left to rot. Seeds
from a Jack- O-Lantern will serve better dried for the birds than
landing in the trash.
the same guidelines for drying food for your birds that you would
use for humans. Discard over-ripe or bruised items. Some bruises can
be cut away, saving the remainder. Remember issues involving chemical
or any other type of contaminants. Thoroughly wash everything before
drying, and use a safe drying method. Store dried foods properly in
containers in a cool dry place, avoiding high humidity.
Foods that are
brittle or crumble more easily will need to be protected when handled
and stored. Drying broccoli only to have it crumble and turn into
dust will not be appealing to most birds. It could be useful for a
food additive or for small birds, of course. Extra care in storing
and handling helps to insure the florets are intact when they are
comes much more easily for most people than drying. Most have frozen
something at some point, even if it has only been leftovers. We are
not as accustomed to drying foods, except maybe herbs. The same safety
guidelines should be followed for freezing produce for birds as are
used for freezing produce for humans, including hand washing.
deciding what to freeze, keep in mind what the food will be like after
it thaws. Some of the best veggies to freeze are corn, carrots and
beans. The summer squashes become very soft and may not be eaten by
some birds unless they are part of a cooked mix. The same is true
for spinach and similar greens.
store well in a cool area, eliminating the need for freezing. Make
sure the area is cool and dry, and inspect often for any that may
be "going bad". Root crops also store well under similar conditions.
In some areas, it is possible to store certain crops outside in a
guidelines: Root crops and cabbage need cold (not freezing) and moisture.
Pumpkins, squash, and sweet potatoes need warmth (not heat) and dryness.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash keep all winter in a comparatively
dry atmosphere temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. Handle squash carefully
to avoid scrapes and scratches that could invite decay.
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