Tag Archives: home food preservation

  • Pickling 101: The Basics

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    Learn the basics for pickling your own food at home! #canning #pickling #foodstorage

    If you've ever lost power during a storm, watched expensive produce spoil quickly in your fridge, or had an overabundant yield in the garden, learning how to pickle just might be the solution for you.

    Used since ancient times, pickling has been a process of covering food in salt and acid to preserve it and add flavor, while eliminating any bacteria that may cause spoilage. However, since the invention of the refrigerator, the art of pickling has become a less common skill and practice.

    For anyone interested in emergency preparedness or food storage, learning to pickle is a practical skill to put under your belt. Here’s a basic crash course:

     

    Why should You Pickle?

    Besides providing you with food that will last longer on the shelf (and that doesn't need refrigeration), there are other benefits to pickling that make it a practical skill and art to learn:

    1)    Food storage: Of course we all know that pickling is a great way to build your food storage reserves, but did you know that it can also give you more control and choice during an emergency? Having a supply of your favorite pickled (and other home-processed) foods on hand can help to make an emergency a little more bearable; it gives you a sense of comfort, control, and familiarity during an emergency situation.

    2)    Saving fresh food: Pickling allows you to use food even past its season. If you've grown or bought more than you can eat, you’ll still have a way to preserve it and keep it on hand for when you’re craving it most. Also, pickling helps you to save money because you won’t have to buy imported or expensive produce that’s out of season later in the year.

    3)    Variety: Pickling allows you to experiment with different textures, flavors, and recipes. You can be more adventurous with your food by learning how to pickle.

     

    Equipment

    There are a few tools you’ll need to have on hand before you begin your pickling journey.

    Glass jars and Lids: Use glass jars specific for canning that are free from cracks and chips along the rim. Rings can be re-used, but must be free from rust and dents. Choose the size of jar based on the foods you are pickling and the amount you would use in a reasonable amount of time once opened. Don’t use half-gallon jars to pickle cauliflower if you only use 1 cup at a time. Also, most jar sizes are available in two different opening sizes (regular mouth & wide mouth) for ease of packing. Keep this in mind when choosing your jars.

    Always use new lids. Inspect them carefully. Do not use them if there are any dents or impressions in the rubber ring on the lid.

    Pickling 101: The Basics

     

    A large pot: For sterilizing the jars. Always sterilize all of your equipment before pickling. You don’t want any contaminates that could spoil the food getting into your containers, so be extra careful to keep everything clean. Try the Victorio 7 Qt. Aluminum Steam Canner, which also comes with the fitted wire rack that helps prevent jars from breaking.

    Tongs: This tool not only helps you to handle sterilized items and to keep them free of contamination, but they also help you to avoid getting burned while taking your jars out of the boiling bath. There’s a very sturdy set of tongs in the Victorio Canning Kit that will make pickling much easier.

    Funnel: For easy, mess-free pouring. You can also find this tool in the Victorio Canning Kit.

    Canning or pickling salt: Make sure you have canning or pickling salt. Regular salt doesn't have the same preservation properties. Canning salt helps your pickled food to retain its rich color and texture and is also easier to dissolve in the brine (learn what brine is in the “Basic Process” section below).

     

     

    The Basic Process

    While each item you pickle will have its own process and steps to follow, you can count on many of the steps in the process to be the same, no matter what you are pickling.

    1.Sterilize your cooking area. Start by making sure your work area and equipment are sterile. Learn how to sterilize your jars by following the steps below from CountryLiving.com:

    • Place your empty jars right side up in a large pot. Fill the pot with water, making sure the water completely covers the tops of the jars.
    • Bring the water to a rolling boil. Boil for 15 minutes over high heat.
    • Turn off the heat. Place the jar lids in the water as well as the grasping side of the tongs you will use to take the jars out of the bath later. Let them sit in the water for 10 minutes to an hour.
    • Remove the jars using your sterilized tongs. Pour out the water and set them right sight up on a paper towel.

    2. Prepare your produce. Choose your pickling product, making sure it is thoroughly washed (check out the “what makes a great pickle?” section below to learn how to pick products for pickling). After washing your produce, double check your recipe for any special instructions for the type of produce you’re handling. For example, cucumbers need a ¼ inch sliced from the blossom end [pic], because the blossom can contain an enzyme that causes unwanted softening.

    3. Choose a tested recipe from a reliable source. Check out a bookstore or your local library for cookbooks and tips about the pickling process. Here are a couple of titles to look for:

    • The Joy of Pickling: 250 Flavor Packed Recipes for Vegetables for All Kinds of Produce from Garden or Market by Linda Ziedrich
    • The Complete Book of Pickling: 250 Recipes from Pickles and Relishes, to Chutneys and Salsas by Jennifer Mackenzie
    • Pickled: From Curing Lemons to Fermenting Cabbage, the Gourdman's Ultimate Guide to the World of Pickling by Kelly Carrolata

    4. Prepare a brine. A brine is created by boiling water with seasonings and herbs to create a fusion of flavors. Brines use only canning or pickling salt, instead of table salt, and mostly white or brown granulated sugars instead of corn syrup or honey (unless specified by a trusted recipe).

    5. Add food and brine to jars. This step is specific to the type of food you’re pickling. Be sure to check the recipe for the correct way to add your produce and brine the canning jars. All pickling recipes include these instructions.

    6. Seal the Lid. Watch out for air or bubbles, they give room for bacterial growth that can ruin your newly-pickled foods.

    7.  Pick your storage area. Be sure to store pickled items in a dark, cool place. Most pickled items are ready to eat in a few weeks and last several months, depending on your ingredients and pickling style.

    8. Wait it out. You’ll need to set aside some time for the entire process, depending on the recipe. Pickling can be quite an undertaking, so bring along a friend! It’s an excellent experience to share with someone else.

     

    What Makes a Great Pickle?

    There are few rules for choosing the perfect product to pickle. Executive Chef Paul Corsentino from the National restaurant in New York City encourages us to pickle anything, as long as it’s fresh. Sometimes there are different levels of freshness to consider. For example, some people may want to pickle green tomatoes, because they’re firm and have a more neutral taste, while others may prefer ripe, red tomatoes because of their sweetness.

    The rules of pickling really depend more on your sense of taste than anything. You can pickle vegetables, fruits, meats, and eggs, but remember that pickling brine is acidic and salty, so it’s important to find the right flavors to pair with the brine.

    Pickling 101: The Basics

    Because many of us have the most experience eating store-bought pickles, we might automatically want to think our pickling adventure with something like that. But according to Rebecca Orchant, a professional food writer for the Huffington Post, pickling cucumbers can be more difficult than some other produce items. She suggests starting with things like asparagus, carrots, or mushrooms.

    For a list of unconventional things you can pickle, from watermelon rinds to brussel sprouts, try this list from Good Housekeeping. Or try one of these Recipes:

    Pickled Green Tomatoes

    Lemony Cauliflower Florets

    When your pickles are ready, you can serve them with olive oil and crusty bread, or on pasta for an instant meal. You can also use various pickled items as side dishes, in salads, or on sandwiches for extra flavor.

     

    Experiment

    When you've become more familiar with the art of pickling, you can get creative! Traditionalists love using dill, but you can add the flavors you love to make your pickles a different experience every time. Make it spicy by adding some chopped chilies or extra garlic, give it some zing by adding mustard seeds, mince it up to make a relish, or make a sweet pickle with sugar.

    The best part about pickling is that you get to choose the flavors and textures you love, so your food storage possibilities can turn from the same old flavors into a variety of bold new dishes you’re excited to eat.

     

    Have you pickled before? What do you like to pickle? Any tips for those who are new?

     

    -Lesley

     

    Related Products:

    Get started canning and pickling with this all-in-one set! #emergencyessentialsLearn the Basic of Canning with this Step-by-Step DVD This pressure canner/cooker safely cans produce and meat for home storage. #emergencyessentials #canning Prepare food for canning, cooking, and dehydrating at home. This strainer helps you quickly process foods without electricity.

    Other Articles You Might Like:

    How to Make Delicious Homemade Jams and Jellies

    Preparedness Skills: Canning Basics

    Preparedness Skills: Different Home Canning Methods

    How to Make Homemade Baby Food from Food Storage

     

     

    Sources

    www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/28/how-to-pickle_n_3512573.html

    www.goodhousekeeping.com/recipes/seasonal/surprising-things-you-can-pickle.

    www.foodrepublic.com/2011/07/27/5-things-know-about-pickling

    www.chefs.edu/Student-Life/Culinary-Central/November-2009/Anything_pickle

    http://nchfp.ega.edu/how/can_06/prep_foods.html

    www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michael-symon/pickled-green-tomatoes-recipe.html

    www.almanac.com/content/pickling-tips-and-recipes

    www.simplycanning.com/sterilizing-jars.html

    www.seriouseats.com/2012/07/pickling-recipes.html

    http://www.thekitchn.com/pickling-salt-what-is-it-and-do-you-need-it-193108

    http://www.hobbyfarms.com/food-and-kitchen/you-can-pickle-that.aspx

    https://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/pickles/salt.html

    http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/backyard-gardening/how-to-pickle-vegetables-and-fruit.aspx

    http://www.countryliving.com/cooking/about-food/sterilizing-canning-jars

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: self-reliance, pickling, home food preservation, homesteading, DIY, canning

  • Food Dehydration

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    When it comes to food storage, there are few things more satisfying than “putting up” your own food. Drying, or dehydrating, homegrown produce is one of the traditional ways of food preservation. This process involves removing moisture from food, while exposing it to temperature increases and moving air.

    Dried fruits provide an inexpensive and sweet alternative to sugary store-bought foods. Fruit leathers and jerky are two examples of snack replacements that you can produce at home for mere pennies.

    iStock_000010243854XSmall_driedfruit

    The three primary ways of home drying food today are sun-drying, oven-drying, and using a food dehydrator.

    Sun

    drying is ideal for fruits such as apricots, peaches, grapes, and figs, although there are other foods suitable for this method. Sun-drying requires a number of hot (85 degrees or higher) days with relatively low humidity. Spread thin pieces of fruit evenly across a shallow pan and cover with cheesecloth to keep the food safe from bugs. Putting boxes in the back seat of a car and laying the tray on top, with full exposure to the sun through the back windshield is a creative and easy way to dry food. Others have used sunny porches, balconies, and even flat roofs to dry their food.

    Oven

    drying involves drying food at temperatures between 130 and 150 degrees. (Some older ovens may not have temperature settings this low). As in sun-drying, distribute pieces of food in a shallow pan or dish. You may want to check the food periodically for adequate dehydration.

    If the temperature is too low or the humidity too high when sun or oven-drying, the food may dry too slowly or even spoil. When the temperature is too high it could cook the food and make it hard on the outside, while leaving the inside moist and vulnerable to molding or other forms of spoilage from microorganisms.

    Food Dehydrator

    Commercial food dehydrators offer the most controlled drying environment. They provide a constant ideal temperature combined with heated air that circulates via a blower or fan. Most food dehydrators also offer liners and trays for dehydrating fruit leather and small, sticky foods. Fruits, vegetables, and meats can dry while you are away at work, asleep, or doing your household chores with minimal worry or fuss.

    FP-D800

    After drying the food, cool it to room temperature and loosely package in plastic bags, hard plastic containers, or glass jars. For longer-term preservation, pack in airtight containers. Foods that you dehydrate yourself are not only great for snacks at home but are useful when camping or backpacking since they do not require refrigeration.

    There are many good books on the market that specifically describe how to dry fruits, vegetables, and meats with delicious recipes included. We at Emergency Essentials often carry books on dehydrating. You may email us at sales@beprepared.com and we will help you find information.

    Posted In: Insight, Preserving, Uncategorized Tagged With: survival skills, home food preservation, homesteading, dehydrating food, food storage

  • Pressure Canning: Making Memories (and Making Mother's Day Awesome)

    |2 COMMENT(S)

    I remember hot summer afternoons back in the 80’s, feeling sticky and tired from pushing piles of peach skin and pits off the counter. I can see my mom’s red cheeks, puffing with exertion and her hair all frizzed-out from laboring over the pressure canner. I also remember the stress and frustration; Mom yelling “be careful it’s hot!” and “¡Rapido, rapido! ¡Apúrate!” I know, it sounds like that wouldn't be a cherished memory, but it is.

     

    903 All-American Pressure Cooker/Canner

    Come fall my dad would pull out the pressure canner and put on the juicing adapter as I washed grapes in the sink. I’d stack the fruit inside; he would fasten the lid. Then we’d wait until the purple gold pushed its way into the Mason jars. “Stand back just in case it splatters,” he’d warn me, and I’d wish I was one of those farm kids who get to squirt milk straight in their mouths from the teat.

     

    I remember, months later, wrapped in a sweater on gray winter evenings, digging into soft, sweet peaches and feeling the warmth of summer shine into every corner of our tiny kitchen. Nothing, and I mean nothing, tasted as good as cottage cheese running with sugary peach juice. The grape juice was saved for special occasions like somebody’s birthday, or Thanksgiving, or a Sunday dinner when my dad thought we should celebrate for no particular reason.

     

    I learned a lot in those days; how to keep a sink full of soapy dishwater to clean as you dirtied dishes, how working now meant pleasure later, and how important precision is. These are lessons that I use as an adult; and it all came from my mother and one little machine.

     

    Pressure canning is still one of the most reliable ways to preserve food, especially produce. Preserve food and precious memories—get an All-American Pressure Cooker, and take a look at our pressure canning accessories. A pressure canner is a great gift for moms* who want to store their fresh produce for later. If you've never preserved food before, read up on Home Canning Methods, Canning Basics, and Canning Tips and Tricks, before you start.

     

    ~ Steph

     

    *And dads, of course. But Mother’s Day is May 10th, so we’re just dropping some hints on behalf of the mothers in your life. [Nudge, nudge]

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: home food preservation, canning, home food production, Food Storage Tips, emergency preparedness, skills, food storage

  1. 1-3 of 5 items

Please wait...