Archive for May 3rd, 2012

Canning, Preserving and Pickling

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012
(The Why’s and Wherefores)

 

a.      We need to store food for many reasons.

b.         We do not enjoy making a trip to the grocery store every  day.

c.         It is convenient and time saving.

d.        It is economical to purchase in bulk when food items are available at reduced prices.

e.         Foods that are stored properly are both nutritional and time saving.

f.          It makes me feel good to look at my food storage and know that my family can enjoy good, healthy nutritious foods.

g.         Some forms of food storage may take a lot of time and effort at the time I am doing it; however, in the long run it is very time consuming.

Because, we lived on a farm, we would plant large amounts of fruits and vegetables; which, would mature in large quantities at the same time.  For some reason I really enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed eating and knowing that we would have plenty to eat all winter; even if we were snowed in.   Some winters this happened frequently during the season.

 

It is a proud moment when you open the first jar of your very own peaches, pickles, strawberry jam, or luscious red tomato juice! Even if you’ve never canned before, it will be easy you’ve read the instructions that come with your very own pressure cooker.  (Watch for following articles to be published with recipes etc. regarding canning, freeze drying.) 

 

General Information on Canning

Canning is one of the most economical ways to preserve foods, and colorful rows of home-canned fruits and vegetables give visible evidence of a homemaker’s skill, thrift, and nutrition-wise planning.  The lovely products of the experienced canner are the results of knowledge, care and skill, but all of these are not beyond the achievement of the inexperienced.  Actually, the qualifications for successful canning are the same as those required in every phase of homemaking—cleanliness, intelligent management, the ability to follow directions accurately, and the will to see a job carried through to a successful finish.

No special equipment is needed for canning fruits and tomatoes other than that; are available to every housewife—jars and lids, tongs, saucepans, a deep kettle fitted with a lid, paring knives, canvas gloves, etc.  A pressure canner must be used for canning vegetables (except tomatoes and pimientos) and for meats; which, require a pressure cooker.  I do not suggest new comers use meat for their first project.  Instead, I suggest you store your meat produce in a freezer.  It will keep well; and, you can take a cut of meat out of your freezer; thaw it, cook it just like you just carried it home from the super market.  Tomatoes and pimientos have a high level of acid and require a pressure cooker to store well.  Don’t experiment with your family’s health at stake!

Once one learn to prepare fruits and vegetables to serve the family, it is easy to master the techniques necessary for the preparation of these same foods for canning.  In addition to the wise selection of food and its careful preparation, however, one needs to understand the principles underlying preservation by canning and how to handle the various kinds of equipment and containers, so the work will move smoothly and easily.  A realization of the hazards involved in food spoilage as well as in the use of heat makes one understand why it is essential to work efficiently and safely.

The methods for canning as will be recommended in upcoming articles and by the manufacturers of canning and pressure cooking equipment. The methods for canning as recommended in the manufacturer’s instruction which come with your pressure cooker are tested and retested during years of scientific experimentation by commercial canners, state and national government agencies, university laboratories and other scientific organizations of home economists’ and safety engineers.  Every direction and recommendation for packing as well as processing in the published bulletins of these specialists has a sound reason behind them.  It is never wise and not always safe to make changes in either the procedures or the processing and not always safe to make changes in either the procedures or the processing times.  The statement is so often heard that; “Mrs. ____ has canned successfully for years, and she never bothers with these new fangled methods.”  The only answer is that Mrs. ___ has been extremely lucky and probably has “for gotten about” quarts and quarts of food she has lost through spoilage.  Waste is not the only risk from food that has been improperly processed – there is a serious threat to health from eating spoiled canned vegetables and meats; which, can result in severe illness and even death.  There is too much at stake in this business of food preservation to take chances with your family’s health by following anything but safe and certain directions.  The directions given in the manufactures instructions or by the state and federal government are based on the latest scientific recommendations; which is exactly why I do not publish my directions on this blog.  I may not have the latest and safest method. 

In canning, it is important to preserve as much of the nutritive value attractive color and characteristic flavor of the fresh or freshly cooked food as possible, and at the same time to insure that the food will keep.  Therefore, the processing (cooking) times are kept as short as is safe so that the fine qualities of the foods may not be lost, and as long as necessary to inactivate the enzymes and destroy organisms; which, cause spoilage.  In the “acid” foods such as fruits and tomatoes, this is accomplished in the boiling water bath and if these foods are packed and processed according to directions, the will keep safely and be attractive to eat.  One kind of bacteria in “non-acid” vegetables (Clostridium Botulisms) is especially resistant heat and must be subjected to a temperature higher than that of boiling water for considerable time to be sure it is destroyed.  The only way to achieve this higher temperature is by steam pressure I a pressure canner.  Therefore, all vegetables except tomatoes, pimiento, and sauerkraut, must be processed in a pressure cooker to keep safely.

In both methods of canning, the foods are usually precooked and then packed hot I clean hot jars, the lids put into place and fastened down partially or completely depending upon the kind.  The foods are then processed (cooked in the sealed jar) a definite number of minutes.  When the processing is completed, the lids are tightened if necessary to make a seal.  There is no change for spoilage organisms to get into a perfectly sealed jar.  The open kettle method of canning is not recommended since it is not possible to transfer the food from the kettle to the jars without the possibility of spoilage agents entering the foods.  Only processing in the sealed jars can assure the permanent destruction of the spoilage agents in the foods.

Oven canning is not recommended.  It is most difficult to hold oven temperature constant and foods are likely to be under processed or over processed.  In addition, there is grave danger of explosions, the loss of juice cannot be controlled, and the finished product is of poor quality.

The slovenly worker is rarely a winner in canning. Yeasts, molds, and bacteria float about in the air.  They are found on utensils, sun-drenched foods harbor few spoilage organisms, but soon become infected with thriving colonies of yeasts, molds, and bacteria if allowed to stand at room temperature especially in a cluttered kitchen.  In this way the number of spoilage organisms it is more difficult to destroy many than a few organisms, and it is more difficult to destroy many than a few organisms.  As food stands after picking, the enzymes in the tissues continue their activity and hasten the overdevelopment as well as decay of fruits and vegetables.  The wise canner puts the food into jars at the peak of their freshness and goodness and considers that a job like canning, if worth doing – is worth doing well.

I Wish I Had A Cellar

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

I Wish I Had A Cellar

 

Cellars are great for storing fresh fruits and vegetables as well as canned and bottled items.

 

I was raised in a house that had a cellar.  Mother gardened and canned.  We had fruit trees and bushes of various fruits.  Every vegetable I can imagine was done there.  She harvested her fruits and vegetable out of her garden when they were in the perfect stage.  Then she started to can and freeze them. 

One of my jobs was to pull and hoe weeds.  As the produce began to mature I ate even more produce. 

During the process, of canning and freezing, we all ate plenty of fresh raw produce. 

When the fruits and vegetables were in the just right stage; we would harvest them.  I would help mother prepare, and bottle the various fruits and vegetables.

I ate so much of the produce at just the right stage; that, I was never hunger when we sat down for supper.  Mother would say have you been eating all my produce?  With a straight face I would say “No Mother”.   She would answer; “No! Of course you haven’t been eating them!

As A gardener I never think our garden is big enough.  My husband and I still can and freeze our garden produce.  I love it!

I think of mother’s cellar and WISH I HAD A CELLAR ALSO.  Our land is on the side of a mountain.  Therefore; we have such rocky property, that we would have to blast to the big rocks in order to build the cellar.  Oh well, mother didn’t have a refrigerator and I have a refrigerator and a freezer; until, after I left home.  I also store freeze dried food and can and dry foods. 

We purchase wheat, flour, canned, dried, freeze dried foods, etc; as well as our canning and freezing.  Not only do we feel secure about our future meals for the next year – plus; but, we are also able to help our friends and family, they need it.

As much as we love fresh food that we have grown or purchased, we do not live in the center of the Garden of Eden.  We therefore need to stock food for our enjoyment; during the winter months and to saving gasoline on the trips we don’t take to go grocery shopping.

We also have a green house; where, my husband grows flowers and vegetables in the winter.

The freezer helps to save the over abundance of fruits and vegetables.  This way we don’t waste food; and have the extra to eat when the garden is not producing those items.

Windmills and solar panels keep the freezer and refrigerator going.  We live just like we did in town.  The only difference is the utility bills don’t come in the mail.  Now I know you are thinking the sun and the wind are not always producing electricity.  This is true; but, that is what batteries are for.

We have no water bills either.

I encourage everyone to store extra of everything you need in your household; food, water, etc.  Life is beautiful!

Here are some ideas for what to enjoy; during the time you save by not needing to go to work and worry about the economy anymore.

 

Honey Caramels

1 cup honey             ½ cup water             1 cup dry milk

Mix until free from lumps.  Cook in top of double boiler for 45 minutes, stirring often; or, for a darker caramel color, put pan directly on burner on low heat for a few minutes, and stir vigorously.  (Dry milk has a high percentage of milk sugar in it that burns readily, as sugar does when caramelized.)  Cool and knead dry milk into the syrup to desired consistency.  Roll in ½ inch roll.  Cut pieces one inch long and shape into squares.

                                   

Honey Candy

1 cup honey

            Cook to hard crack stage at 285 degrees.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and pour onto guttered platter.  As outside edges cool, fold to the center and start stretching while still hot.  Pull until light and porous and until small strings develop.  Roll in ½ inch roll.  Cut pieces one inch long and shape into squares.

Honey Taffy

                                                            1 cup honey

Cook to hard crack stage at 285 degrees.  Stir frequently. Remove from heat and pour onto buttered platter.  As outside edges cool, fold to the center and start stretching while still hot.  (Keep a bowl of cold water nearby.  When your hands feel too hot; dip them in the cold water and then continue stretching.)  Pull until light and porous and until small strings develop.  On a piece of wax paper stretch the candy out in a long rope.   Roll into a ½-inch roll.  Cut pieces one inch long and shape into squares if you wish; or leave in the round pieces you have after you cut them.