Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preserving Techniques

Admittedly, preserving fruits and vegetables scares me. I'm always sure I'm going to poison everyone I love. So when my daughter decided to plant a garden this year and plans to do a lot of preserving, I thought I'd do a little research and get prepared to help her...and reap the rewards....lots of jars of Jellies, Jams & Chutneys, to start.

I will be writing much more about preserving, but to get us all off to a great start, here are the supplies to have at hand, according to Thane Prince, author of Jellies, Jams & Chutneys:
Preserving Pot:
  • should be wider than it is tall. This conducts heat quickly, so that the jam or jelly reduces fast, retaining it's fresh flavor and boils rapidly, which enables it to achieve a "set";

  • for chutneys and relishes, it's important that the pot has a heavy base for even heat;

  • use stainless steel or enameled pans, avoiding aluminum, as this reacts with the acids in fruit and vinegar.
Measuring equipment:
  • scales for accurate weighing of fruit, vegetables and sugar;

  • 1 quart/litre measuring cup plus 2 cup measuring jug;

  • spoon measures for accurate weighing of spices
Graters & Sieves:
  • microplane graters for ginger, garlic and zest;

  • food mill, for grating vegetables;

  • sieve to remove seeds from jam, if desired
Spoons:
  • Jam Funnel - try to find a wide mouth funnel making it easier to fill the jars
Jelly Bags & Stand:
  • (more about that later, but you can purchase them as a set);

  • or improvise with a fine sieve lined with double thickness of cheesecloth; Wash and scald bags, muslin, cheesecloth before use;

  • When dry, press with a hot iron to sterilize.
Containers & Covers:
  • Jars must be scrupulously lean and sterilized before use;

  • Dishwasher set on hot, fulfills requirements, so run it through the cycle just before potting;

  • Alternatively, wash jars in hot, soapy water, rinse well and drain until nearly dry. Put in a cold oven and heat at 300F/150C for 10-15 minutes.

  • Olive oil and vinegar bottles, well washed, dried and sealed with a lined screwtop or cork are good for flavored vinegars;

  • lids with vinegar proof inner plastic or rubber rings are best all-around covers;

  • lids with no inner rings may be used for vinegar-free preserves;

  • jars can be sealed with cellophane covers (no, this is not plastic wrap)- dip each cover in water. Place damp side down, over the jar. Stretch cellophane tightly, holding it in place with a rubber band. Top with waxed paper circle first cut to fit the top of the jar. Place directly on hot preserve. Screw on the lid or stretch over the cellophane cover.
Stay tuned for more tips here and more recipes here. First simple recipe is for Chef Craig's Amazing Pickled Beets and is pictured above. I can't wait for my trip to the market this Saturday. I saw lots of bunches of young carrots last week, so I'm sure to score big!

1 comment:

Dalia said...

I don't think you should be scared about poisining anyone with preserves as long as you don't can meat, poultry, fish, mushrooms or anything with lot of proteins.
Worsest what may happen with canned vegetables - they will get bad taste.
I wish that never to happen to you - good luck!