Tag Archives: food preservation

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!

More here…

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.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Owens

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.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_S_Thompson

Preparing For an Emergency – Survival Food Storage

21 Feb

If the power went out tomorrow, would you be prepared? If disaster strikes in the form of a national crisis, could you survive?

It is very important to know the answers to these questions ahead of time. It could mean life or death someday! Thankfully, you don’t need to be inconvenienced to be prepared. Many steps to being ready can be taken each day, along with normal activities.

Your main concern during an emergency of some kind would be food and water. Without these, you can only survive a few days. So it’s important to keep a good supply of both all the time!

You have several options for storing food ahead of time.

Buy just ‘one more’ at the store.

When you go to the grocery store, buy an extra of whatever you are planning to buy in boxes or cans. Keep a running list of all the extra food you have on hand, and be sure to rotate frequently! If you buy one can of tomatoes, buy one more and set it aside. After a few months, use that can of tomatoes, go to the store, and repeat the process. This keeps food fresh, so you don’t have an eight-year old can of green beans on the shelf!

Buy dried foods.

Purchase dried foods, such as:

* cereal
* fruit leathers
* dried fruit
* raisins and craisins
* nuts
* beef jerky
* chips and crackers
* chocolate chips
* pop tarts
* boxed juice/milk/other beverages
* candy bars
* granola

These foods can be kept on the shelf for a long time, and are good for an emergency, since you don’t have to prepare them. They can be eaten right out of a box!

Can your own foods.

You may shy away from this option, since it sounds hard… but please don’t! It really is not as hard is you may think, and it opens endless possibilities for emergency food storage.

For starters, you can can soups, vegetables, fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, beets, corn, chicken, beef… anything, you name it. There are pretty much no limitations to what you can preserve! That is what makes this options so nice and versatile.

If you’d like to learn how to can, there are a lot of great resources out there for you. For one, check your local library for books on this topic. There are lots of great books out there about canning and preserving. Also surf the net – there are hundreds of websites about canning that can help you. In any case, definitely look into canning!

Dehydrating

Dehydrating is a fun thing to do with fruits. You can either slice your fruits, such as bananas, strawberries, cherries, apples, etc, into slices and dehydrate; or you can make home made fruit leathers.

To make fruit leathers, simply puree your fruits with a bit of water and pour onto dehydrating sheets. Dehydrating these takes a day or two; but they are so delicious and very worth the effort! When you dehydrate fruit leathers, you should chill them to keep them fresh, and to keep them from going bad.

Freezing

Freezing is not as good of an option for food storage, since, in an emergency, you may not have power – which means freezers are going to go dead. So limit your frozen food storage, since it may not be helpful in all cases.

Water

If you live in a rural area, you may own your own well, which is a good start. Consider storing water into large storage tanks as a back up if you ever lose power. Remember, without electricity, you won’t be able to run your well.

If you live in the city, than you should buy large flats of water bottles – just enough for a month. Figure out how many water bottles each member of the family would go through each day, week, and so on, and buy this many bottles of water.

Being prepared for an emergency is something that you shouldn’t pass off as unimportant. When disaster strikes, be ready for it!

Rachel K is a young lady who enjoys writing. If you’d like to learn how to can, check out her website: http://www.canningbasics.com/.

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rachel_K

Spice Up Your Life! – The Health Benefits of Spices

16 Feb

 

Spices are not just a great way to vary food, add flavour without over-salting foods and keep things interesting.

Here’s a quick guide to some common spices and to just some of their health benefits.

Turmeric – the curcumin in tumeric has proven anti-inflammatory qualities, and has also been used to provide relief and prevention from PMS, arthritis, smoking related diseases, heart disease high cholesterol & alzheimers, and helps the body destroy mutated cancer cells.

It is also thermogenic, boosting the body’s basal metabolic rate, and has anti-estrogenic qualities.

Turmeric is great in egg dishes, providing a deeper colour & flavour, also used in curry dishes and lentil or bean dishes. Or try in my cauliflower & almond soup.

Cayenne Pepper – also has a high concentration of capsaicin, a known pain reliever and has the ability to increase the body’s basal metabolic rate, stimulating the burning of fat for energy.

It is also known to aid digestive disorders, and can actually help heal peptic ulcers, and abdominal pain.

Aids the cardio vascular system by reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and can aid in the prevention of blood clots.

Try sprinkling over a mixture of prawns or crayfish, mango & cooked chicken for a zingy salad. Sprinkle over squash or sweet potato chunks before roasting.

Or try my crayfish, avocado & tomato starter.

Nutmeg – has long been used as a carminative, to prevent flatulence and lessen wind formation.

It also aids in stomach upsets & diarrhea. Nutmeg oil also has anti-bacterial qualities, and is a natural means of food preservation.

Excellent grated on spinach & creamier soups.

Cinnamon – has long been used for arthritis, asthma, insomnia and many many other common disorders. It is a circulatory stimulant, and recent investigations have found that it is particularly useful in reducing blood glucose levels and diabetes. It is also an anti-convulsant, aiding in epilepsy & spastic muscles.

Great in curries, and with apples & pears.

Star Anise – Anise is rich in cancer preventing coumarin compounds. It is also known to reduce coughs & has an antispasmodic effect on intestinal spasm.

However, it is slightly estrogenic, and also should also not be fed to infants.

Most commonly used to flavour cakes & biscuits, it is also wonderful ground up over fruit salads, and can add a great depth of flavour when cooking your own tomato based sauces.

Cloves – commonly used for it’s anesthetic and antibacterial qualities for teeth & gum problems, it is high in eugenol, which aids in reducing/preventing toxicity from environmental pollutants.

Stud an onion with cloves as a great base for stocks & soups etc, or great with apples. You could also try a small sprinkling of ground cloves to zing up a stir fry.

Cumin – enhances the liver’s detoxification enzymes, and is believed to have anti-cancer properties, and in the prevention of stomach and liver tumours.

Aids proper digestion & nutrient assimilation.

Quickly fry cumin seeds & other preferred spices to release the flavour & create a base for curries and lentil dishes.

Mustard seeds – a decongestant, they also have excellent levels of phytochemicals that are being studied for their anti-cancer effects.

Stir fry prawns with mustard seed & chilli for a great starter. Add to rice, quinoa or millet based dishes for flavour.

Saffron – modern research suggests that saffron can help prevent and treat cancer including leukemia, memory loss, heart disease & inflammation. It is also a potent antioxidant.

Infuse yoghurt with saffron to make a great accompaniment to spiced or curried lamb. Add to fish based soups or stews for great colour & subtle flavour. Add to rice based dishes. Or simply add saffron & grated cinnamon to yoghurt to create a lassi style dessert.

Enjoy!

Julie Winterton is a Level 2 Health Coach, Yoga Siromani & Kinetic Chain Assessment Specialist at the Dax Moy Personal Training Studios, Islington, London

She is also the author of the forthcoming cookbook “Good Nutrition for Food Lovers”

http://www.daxmoy.com

Article Source: EzineArticles.com/?expert=Julie_Winterton

Be Safe Canning Foods

14 Feb

An important word about home canning of vegetables (see links for more information)

People still canning green beans at home using the boiling water canner instead of a tested pressure canning process are risking food loss and even worse, possible death or serious poisoning.  We are receiving phone calls from people canning dozens and dozens of jars of green beans in boiling water and then losing all that work and food due to spoilage.  Beans canned this way looked fine coming out of the canner, but are now turning cloudy and jars are popping open, even sometimes with force.  These beans are definitely spoiling from being underprocessed.  But it could be worse: even if the jars still look good, it is possible that they contain botulism toxin from this unsafe canning practice.

Jars of improperly canned vegetables and meats can contain the deadly botulism toxin without showing signs of spoilage such as being seen in the reports mentioned above.  Those that do show signs of spoilage could also contain botulism toxin because they are showing other signs of underprocessing.

Spores of Clostridium botulinum bacteria, as found naturally in soils, are very, very heat resistant.  Even hours in the boiling water canner will not kill them if they are inside your jars of beans.  Left alive after canning, they will eventually germinate into actively growing bacterial cells that will produce a deadly human toxin when consumed.  The bacteria like the conditions inside closed jars of low-acid foods (such as vegetables and meats) sitting at room temperature, so they must be killed during the canning process for safe storage.

You can find the USDA-recommended procedures for canning green beans at home here:  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_04/beans_snap_italian.html
The list of available vegetable canning processes is found at this menu:
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can4_vegetable.html
and those for tomato and tomato products here:
http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can3_tomato.html

We do not have home canning procedures to recommend for vegetable, meat, poultry or seafood products not found on this website.

You can read a little more about botulism and ensuring safe home canned foods here:  http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/general/ensuring_safe_canned_foods.html
and principles about safe canning at home here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/general.html

Please be safe when canning foods for you and your family! Knowledge and recommendations change over time with scientific developments.  You should use up-to-date recommendations and methods and not just rely on practices of past generations.

Making Homemade Flakes & Powders

13 Feb

Can you stretch the budget further? You can if you look at new ways to use food. A “hidden” way is the use of flakes and powders, made with vegetables in your home. More