Freezing and Canning Fall Vegetables, Root Cellars, and Sauerkraut!
Posted: November 1, 2012
Freezing Fall Vegetables
To freeze as a plain vegetable, blanch in boiling water. Start counting blanching time when the water returns to a boil after the vegetable is added. Here is a list of blanching times.
• Broccoli flowerets—3 minutes
• Broccoli may be steam blanched for 5 minutes.
• Brussels sprouts, medium—4 minutes
• Cabbage, large shreds or thin wedges—1½ minutes
• Carrots, small whole—5 minutes
• Carrots, diced or sliced—2 minutes
• Cauliflower flowerets—3 minutes
• Kohlrabi, small whole—3 minutes
• Kohlrabi, ½ inch cubes—1 minute
• Turnips, ½ inch cubes—2 minutes
Cool promptly in cold water. Change water if necessary. Drain completely. Package. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower do not need any headspace. Allow ½ inch headspace for cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi, and turnips. These vegetables may be frozen in a single layer on a tray before being packaged if desired. Seal and freeze. Check that the freezer is at 0°F or lower for best keeping quality.
Canning Fall Vegetables
Carrots and turnips may be pressure canned. Cover prepared vegetables with water, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Pack hot into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Add ½ teaspoon salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart if desired. Fill jar to 1 inch from the top with boiling water. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids. Process in a dial gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure or in a weighted gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. Adjust for altitude. Process carrots for 25 minutes for pints and 30 minutes for quarts. Process turnips for 30 minutes for pints and 35 minutes for quarts.
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts are not suitable for pressure canning. However, shredded cabbage is an ingredient in several pickled products such as hot dog relish. Cauliflower, carrots, and Brussels sprouts are frequently pickled—sometimes by themselves and other times combined with other vegetables for an end of the garden relish. The large amount of vinegar in relishes and pickles allows these low acid foods to be processed safely in a boiling water bath. Use a research based tested recipe for the best results.
Some older homes had a root cellar that preserved fall vegetables through the winter. If you have a cold damp area in your basement or garage, you can create a root cellar. You want the area as cold as you can get it without freezing. Bury carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, rutabagas, and leeks in damp sand to keep them moist. You may be able to create these conditions by placing vegetables in buckets of sand on basement steps leading to the outside.
October and November are the best months to make sauerkraut. Cabbage grown in cool weather produces more sugar which is necessary for the fermentation process. Sauerkraut is the result of natural fermentation by bacteria in the cabbage in the presence of 2 to 3 percent salt. Lactic acid and other minor products of fermentation give sauerkraut its characteristic flavor and texture.
Use disease-free firm, sweet, mature heads of cabbage. If possible, prepare the cabbage and start the fermentation the day the cabbage is harvested. A 5 gallon container holds about 25 pounds of cabbage. Shred cabbage 1/16th inch thick—about the thickness of a quarter. It needs to be broken up enough to bruise the cells to release the sugars.
Use only canning or pickling salt. Iodized salt and sea salt may cause discoloration. Flake and kosher salt are not recommended because their density differs from canning salt. The proper balance of salt and cabbage prevents the growth of spoilage organisms and pathogens while promoting the activity of lactic acid producing bacteria. Salt draws water and sugars from the cabbage and produces a brine that should cover the cabbage when it is packed in the container. Do not use cooper, iron, galvanized-metal, or lead glazed containers for fermentation. If you are unsure about the safety of a container, use stainless steel, glass, or food-grade plastic containers.
Fill the container with 5 pounds of shredded cabbage and 3 tablespoons salt. Don’t reduce the amount of salt. Mix thoroughly to avoid pockets of low or high salt concentration. Press down firmly to release juices and eliminate air pockets. Repeat in 5 pound increments until the container is filled to within 3 to 4 inches from the top. Keep the cabbage submerged in the brine at all times to keep oxygen out and prevent mold growth. Cover with a plate weighted down with jars filled with water or cover with a large food grade plastic bag filled with salt water (6 tablespoons salt per gallon of water.) Do not use garbage bags or trash can liners. Freezer bags sold for packaging turkey are the right size for 5 gallon containers. If the juice does not cover the cabbage, add boiled and cooled brine prepared with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt in a quart of water.Cover the top of the container with a clean kitchen towel to reduce exposure to airborne mold spores. If you weight the cabbage with a brine-filled bag, do not disturb the crock until the normal fermentation is complete. If you use jars as weights, you must check the sauerkraut two to three times each week and remove scum if it forms.
Do not ferment sauerkraut in jars. It is difficult to keep cabbage from rising to the top. Fermentation is less consistent, and spoilage is more likely.
During fermentation, a series of changes takes place when the salt and acid-tolerant bacteria raise the acidity and create ideal conditions for other bacteria to further ferment the sauerkraut. Fermentation naturally stops when the sauerkraut reaches the proper acidity. Temperature affects the speed of fermentation. Between 60°F and 65°F, it will take 6 weeks to make sauerkraut. The ideal temperature is between 70°F and 75°F where it will ferment properly in 3 to 4 weeks. Above 80°F, sauerkraut may become soft and spoil.
Sauerkraut is ready to use when it reaches the desired tartness. Do not taste it if you see mold on the surface, feel a slimy texture, or smell a bad odor.
Fully fermented sauerkraut may be kept tightly covered in the refrigerator for several months, or it may be canned or frozen.
For more information on preserving sauerkraut, and specific instructions on canning, visit the Penn State Food Preservation web site at http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preservation/safe-methods/lets-preserve/
More on the Web: http://extension.psu.edu/food-safety/food-preservation/news