Food Preservation Blog
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Safe preservation of venison begins in the field. Care must be taken to avoid contamination of the meat while dressing, handling, and transporting it. Field dress the deer as soon as possible and quickly cool the carcass to 35 to 40°F. Transport the carcass to a processing facility as soon as possible and keep it cool during transport. Practice cleanliness; wash your hands, knife, and cutting boards frequently with warm, soapy water.
The supermarket has a special on pork chops; a friend shares some fresh venison, a purchase of a side of beef—all are good reasons for knowing the best methods of freezing meats. Keys for success are proper temperature, air tight packaging, cleanliness, starting with a quality product, and length of storage.
Knowing how to store food properly and how long it will keep, helps to reduce wasted food dollars while keeping the food looking and tasting good. Proper storage also helps retain nutrients and keeps the food safe to eat.
Violent storms with flashing lightning remind us that we need to be prepared for power outages. The loss of power could jeopardize the safety of frozen food. To keep food safe, keep the door closed and control the temperature.
If all the proper steps to freeze foods safely are used and then it is defrosted at temperatures that foster bacteria growth, hours of work will be in vain. Freezing temperatures will prevent the growth of bacteria; they do not kill bacteria present before the food was frozen. When the food temperature rises above 40°F, bacteria can grow at levels to cause food borne illness. This is of special concern for meat, chicken, and seafood because of the bacteria naturally present on the raw product before freezing.
The convenience of canned soup makes cooking and meal preparation easier on busy days. Because of the convenience of canned soup, many food preservers would like to reproduce soups found in the deli or supermarket. However, there are some commercially prepared foods that just cannot be reproduced safely by the home canner. Creamed soups are not suitable for home canning because their ingredients interfere with the proper transfer of heat during the processing step and can result in food borne illness. Freezing some soups is a safer option.
Pumpkins and winter squash keep well for several months in cold storage. However, canning and freezing helps us enjoy them out of season, and it is convenient to have pumpkin cubes or sauce in a ready to use form.
When nice heads of broccoli and cauliflower are abundantly available at produce stands, it makes sense to buy a little extra to freeze for out-of-season use. In fact, some heads are too large for use at one time, and freezing the extra simply prevents the food from going to waste.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts—what’s a thrifty way to preserve the fall harvest? Most freeze well; some such as kohlrabi, turnips, and carrots can be canned, and most are excellent in mixed vegetable pickles.
Have you ever been in these situations? You are filling jars with hot crushed tomatoes and have just a little left over. You evenly distribute the extra tomatoes between each jar filling nearly to the top thinking it is good economics. Maybe it isn’t. If jars are filled too full, food may boil out during processing and solids or seeds may catch under the sealing compound and prevent the jar from sealing.
Although fresh apples are available most of the year, there are situations where you might choose to preserve apples. This article gives several options for freezing apples.
Pears can be preserved in a variety of interesting ways. The natural sweetness of dried pears makes them a tasty high energy snack. Although canning is preferred, full-flavored pears that are crisp and firm can be frozen. Pears can be canned in flavored juices, made into specialty jams, and star in relishes and chutneys. There are even recipes for salsa with pears.
The manner in which fresh potatoes are stored will impact their quality. Store potatoes in a cool, dark place that is well ventilated. The ideal storage temperature is 45 to 50°F. Refrigerated potatoes stored below 40°F will develop a sweet taste due to the conversion of starch to sugar. This increase in sugar will cause potatoes to darken when cooked—especially at high temperatures. Storing potatoes in the refrigerator is not recommended but, if you do, letting the potatoes warm gradually to room temperature before cooking can reduce the discoloration.
Grapes are one of the higher acid fruits and so are easy to preserve. Hot grape juice only needs to be processed for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.
To can or to freeze?That's the eternal question many home cooks face at this time of year when summer's bounty stands ready to go into storage.If you want those pretty fruits and vegetables you lovingly plucked from your home garden — or from the table at the local farm market — to reappear all fresh and tasty at midwinter you'll need to decide whether they're headed into freezer bags or mason jars.
Corn can be preserved with equally good results by freezing or canning. Corn may also be dried. Preserve corn as soon after harvesting as possible. The corn will be best if canned or frozen within six hours of being picked. Select tender ears of corn with milky kernels. After husking and removing the silk, trim off the ends of the ears to remove small fibrous kernels. Wash corn before blanching.
Many gardens contain a wide variety of vegetables. Some are grown because they are favorites. Others are grown for the fun of trying something new. Here are some suggestions for preserving some specialty vegetables.
Freezing pies saves time in meal preparation but does require more energy to bake. Frozen pies take longer to bake than freshly made ones, and they should be baked from the frozen state.
Red, green, yellow—even purple and orange. Peppers make a colorful medley. The most common peppers are the mild, sweet, thick fleshed bell pepper; the even milder pimiento pepper; and the hotter chili and jalapeno peppers. Some gardeners include the much hotter serrano, cayenne and habenero among their favorites. Peppers may be frozen, canned, dried, pickled, marinated or made into relishes, jams or jellies.
What can you do with extra zucchini? You can dry or freeze zucchini, but you can only can zucchini if it has added acidity as in pickled products.
If you hope to pull tasty, nutritious vegetables from your freezer next winter, you need to blanch them first. Blanching stops the action of enzymes. These naturally occur in vegetables helping them grow and ripen. The enzymes continue to act after harvest and will cause color, flavor, texture, and nutrient losses. Freezing slows down the action of enzymes - but does not stop them.
Have you ever been searching for a package of ground beef in your freezer and discovered a bag of strawberries frozen five years ago? Bacteria will not grow in food stored at 0°F or lower. However, the quality of the food can deteriorate over time. If freezer bags get torn or lids of freezer boxes become loose or if they were not vapor proof to start with, you may notice grainy, brownish, dry looking spots.
Crisp, tender sugar peas combined with new potatoes make a tasty dish that signals the beginning of a bountiful garden. English or hull peas are equally delicious. With careful processing, peas can be preserved to be enjoyed throughout the year.
One of spring’s favorite vegetables, asparagus, is so delicate that it requires special care.
Sweet delicious strawberries that ripen in your garden or are available from local produce stands provide the best flavor. Freezing is by far the most popular method of preserving this nutritious little bundle of flavor.
Rhubarb is the vegetable that is enjoyed as a fruit. By itself it provides a unique tart flavor. Unlimited possibilities exist for combining rhubarb with other foods to create delicious sauces, pies, cakes, cobblers, muffins, and even jams. Most foods prepared with rhubarb can also be frozen.