Let's talk about food storage techniques. We will cover the following techniques in this article.
o PRESSURE CANNING
o WATER-BATH CANNING
To use the pressure canning method, you will need a pressure canner. Use clean mason jars only, making sure there are no nicks or cracks in the rim of the jars. Before using your pressure canner, inspect the petcock safety valve and rims. Have the pressure gauge tested annually according to the manufacturer directions. If the canner or lid has been dropped, don't use it because hairline cracks may not be visible and when under pressure it could cause it to explode. Use the pressure canner according to its instructions.
The water-bath canning method is used to can high acids foods such as pickles, fruits, jams and tomatoes. Fruits should be peeled, pitted and cut into slices or serving-size chunks. They can be treated to prevent darkening with Ascorbic acid, or by soaking for a few minutes in a solution of two tablespoons each of vinegar and salt in one gallon of water. Jams are made from crushed fruits and sweetener. Foods to be pickled, except cucumbers are briefly boiled then heated in a vinegar solution which may contain spices or sweetener. Tomatoes should be peeled and then cut in half. The easy way to do this is to pour boiling water over the tomatoes and then the peels just slip off. Tomatoes are fairly acidic but a teaspoon of salt should be added to each jar.
Dry salting for storage is different than curing meats. First, you steam or boil the vegetables for ten minutes, Mix four cups of food with one cup of salt. Then pack it into crocks or containers and cover with cheese cloth. Brine should form within 4 hours. Store in a cool place and it should be finished in 3 to 5 weeks. Scrape off any foam that may form on top.
Hot smoking, 10 degrees or higher, is used to prepare foods for immediate rather than long term storage. Cold smoking, keeping the food in 70 to 120 degree smoke is used for preparing storage. The food is dried and flavored in the process. Afterwards it should be stored in a cool dry place. Making quality smoked foods needs to be learned. You can buy smokers or learn to build your own homemade smoker.
Drying is one of the easiest methods of preserving food. All vegetables should be blanched in boiling water or in stem for 3 to 7 minutes to inactivate enzymes to prevent changes in the food after it is dried. Fruits should be halved or sliced, then treated with citric acid to prevent darkening. You can also soak fruits for 10 minutes in a gallon of cold water with a tablespoon of salt and of vinegar to prevent darkening.
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