Food Preservation Blog
It’s time to plan ahead for home canning this summer. Let's look at types of equipment currently available for home food preservers. Start by checking your equipment and supplies. Proper equipment in good condition is required for safe, high quality home canned food.
Home preserved foods make thoughtful gifts to share with friends or neighbors. Use them to express appreciation, as a hostess gift, or to remember a shut-in. Food gifts are especially appreciated by working people who don’t have time to do the extras and by older folks who don’t have the energy to preserve foods. Many of these gifts can be made earlier in the year before the holiday rush. In addition, easy to make jams, jellies, syrups, ice cream toppings, and mixes can be made from readily available ingredients any time of the year.
Recipes for canning breads and cakes in canning jars appear in newspapers, books, magazines, on television and on the web. While they look attractive and are unique for gift giving, these products are not shelf-stable and cannot be safely stored at room temperature. Canned breads and cakes are typically made by pouring batter into glass canning jars and baking them in the oven. Once the cake or bread is done, the steaming jars are taken out of the oven and then sealed and cooled to create a vacuum. Many recipes claim that they can be stored without refrigeration for about a year. Some say they will keep indefinitely.
The holiday meal is over. You are ready to relax. You just want to sit down and visit with your guests. Wait! Not quite yet! If you take this route, you will likely end up with some uninvited guests—bacteria that love to grow at room temperature.
Jerky is meat that has been salted, seasoned, and dried until most of the moisture is removed. A pound of meat weighs about four ounces after being made into jerky. Because of its very low moisture content, it can be stored for several weeks without refrigeration and is suitable for school lunches and backpacking. It is popular as a snack.
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.
With major canning ending, many home food preservers are storing canning equipment until spring. Take time to prepare the equipment for storage.
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.
Temperature is directly related to the safety and quality of food. Bacteria and other microorganisms are more likely to grow and multiply in a potentially hazardous food if the food is in the danger zone of 41 to 140°F. That is why cold foods need to be held or stored below 40°F in the refrigerator and why cooked foods need to be held at 140°F or higher until served or stored. Foods held between those temperatures for longer than a total of two hours risk dangerous growth of enough microorganisms to cause illness. Colder temperatures are required for freezing foods.
Question: Sometimes when I preserve garlic or foods that contain garlic, the cloves turn a blue color. Is it still safe to eat when this happens?
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.
Modified food starches are available in bulk food stores and in some grocery stores that have a bulk food section. These and similar products are used widely in the commercial food industry and are listed on the ingredient label as modified starch. Some of the characteristics of these products make them desirable for use by home food preservers.
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.
Food preservation information usually addresses the safety of the preserved food in terms of spoilage organisms. However, the preparation of home preserved foods provides opportunities for injury in the kitchen. Awareness of potential hazards and knowing how to prevent falls, cuts, burns, and fires are the keys to personal safety in the kitchen. These practices may also prevent injury to children or others who are in the kitchen when food preservation is taking place.
Fruit butters are sweet spreads made by cooking fruit pulp with sugar to a thick consistency. Spices are often added. The smooth, spreadable texture of fruit butters makes them an ideal substitute for butter on bread, toast, or muffins. A unique layer cake can be made with a filling of apricot or peach butter or a sandwich cookie with apple or pear butter. Delicious low fat baked goods can be made by substituting fruit butter for some of the fat in the recipe.
Relishes are relatively easy to make because the vinegar used to flavor them increases the acidity of the vegetables allowing most of them to be processed in the boiling water bath. If you are not sure how you will like a particular recipe, try a test batch using half the amounts called for in the recipe.