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Saving the Taste of Summer for Winter

18 Apr

Food Preservation
by Catherine Meeks, volunteer writer for Crabtree Farms
posted July 14, 2010

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I am a glutton for punishment this time of year. Let me explain: I have a small vegetable garden; I’m a member of a CSA that gives me piles of fruits and vegetables every Monday; and I have a habit of going to the both the Chattanooga Market on Sundays and the Main Street Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays. Between all this and the occasional trip to the grocery store, I wind up with too much to eat. Which, of course, is a luxury beyond what many in the world can imagine. However, it goes from being a luxury to a problem when I forget about the bowl of tomatoes I set on top of the toaster oven that inevitably attracts fruit flies!

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Eat Your Garden Veggies in the Winter – Make a Storage Cellar

9 Apr

By Robert Owens

Throughout time, humans have always had to find ways to preserve food after the growing seasons to sustain themselves in the cold winter months. Food preservation and storage skills were crucial to the survival of our ancestors. Today, easy access to food (grocery stores and pizza delivery), have made this concept a lost tradition.

With the cyclical ups and downs of economic times, natural disasters and the threat of bio-terrorism, there has been a resurgence in the minds of many people across the country about having their own food storage cellar. More attention is being paid to the concept of having access to food and water in case of emergency. Uncertain access to food and water spawns the idea that families need to have contingency plans for developing a long term food storage capability.

Planning for long term access to food and water has the following benefits:

  • Families look to save money where they can. Buying in bulk and storing the excess in the basement or pantry is a part of that strategy.
  • Individuals who are now trying their hands at backyard gardens will want to store excess foods they have grown over the summer to enjoy over the winter months.
  • Surviving contamination of local food and water supplies through natural disaster or man made threats.

So, what exactly constitutes a storage cellar?

In the past, it may have been known as the root cellar, a dark damp area beneath the home with a dirt floor, burlap bags and wooden barrels lined along the wall. Today, a food storage cellar can essentially be the same kind of place that great grandpa Jones would be proud of, minus the dirt floor of course. Your basement, garage or backyard patio can be designed to accommodate your food stores over the Winter. If the garage or back patio is the only location for your storage cellar, you may need to insulate somewhat to help maintain a temperature above freezing. Basements usually have the necessary insulated properties and are the preferred site for storing your food.

Basic Materials for your storage cellar might include:

  • Plastic 5 Gallon Buckets – Ensure they are safe for food storage
  • Shelving to house various can goods other non-perishable items
  • Mylar Bags for oxygen barrier material
  • Re-usable Plastic Lids for Sealing in Food materials
  • Oxygen Absorbers

Other items for Emergency Situations

  • Candles/Flashlights and Batteries
  • Manual Can Openers
  • Blankets/Hand Warmers
  • Camping Stove
  • Solar powered Radio
  • Pet Food – If you have a Pet
  • Pots/Pans and basic dishware

Whether you are a survivalist, or just want to enjoy a summer squash in the winter time, a storage cellar can provide a specific place to house your extra or emergency food. Storage cellars can be as as simple as a dirt floor basement or a more elaborate setup, depending on your financial abilities. Either way, having homegrown vegetables in your crock pot stew when the snow has blanketed the ground, is very appealing to many who have the foresight to plan ahead.

A gallon storage container can be used to store just about anything. From a containment drum to store food or rainwater from your rooftop, gallon storage containers can have many uses.

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Methods of Food Preservation

2 Apr

Preservation of food can done in many ways other than using a refrigerator and here we will look at some of these options. First let’s ask ourselves a question. Why do need to preserve food? Well simply put food is essentially biological and was at one point alive and just like us when we die we start to degrade or rot. Some foodstuffs are seasonal so if we did not preserve them the majority of food would be wasted as most of it would become ripe to eat at the same time resulting in too much food at this point and none at others. Preservation processes must be non damaging to the food and non toxic to us so this narrows down the options.

Drying works on the principle that bacteria needs water to grow so by removing the water the growth of bacteria which rots the food is slowed or even stopped. This is a long established method of preservation involving drying out the food using the sun, wind or possibly smoking. An added benefit of drying is that it hardens the surface or skin of the food which stops dirt and other bacteria from contaminating the food. Dried or smoked fish has been a popular preserved food for hundreds of years and still regarded by many today as tastier than fresh fish. Meat is another product that can be dried although in many cases it is salted first, all red meats are able to be preserved in this manner. Fruits are also dried but undergo changes in texture and taste during this process some examples are drying a plum produces a prune and drying a grape produces a raisin. Vegetables are rarely dried as it takes all the flavor and vitamins out of them.

Pickling is a method of preserving food by creating a chemical reaction which is safe to us but which bacteria are unable to survive in. There are various ways in which this can be done with the most common ones being the use of vinegar or brine. Brine is produced when fermentation of salted water produces an acid solution. As this is more a chemical system the method tends to change between different foods as foods with more moisture can produce brine much easier than dryer foods. Food can last for many months using this process which doesn’t require a heat source like the sun or fire unlike the drying method of preservation.

Sugaring is a method used to preserve fruit where the fruit is placed into a sugar based syrup this is popular with apples, pears, apricots and many other fruits. Sometimes the fruit is cooked in this syrup and then dried and stored and in some instances the fruit skins are used as dried fruit skins are popular as a delicacy in some countries.

Freezing is the method that most of us use as most people have home freezers that are cheap to run. An advantage of frozen food is that many products can now be bought ready frozen to go straight into your freezer. Even foods that are unsuitable for freezing can be cooked and then frozen and many are prepared so that that defrosting before cooking is also not required.

Brands such as jenn air refrigerators and hotpoint refrigerator are among many. To choose the best refrigerator read users reviews.

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