Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Storing Food

Until World War II people prepared food for the winter. There was not the luxury of getting fresh produce in the middle of the winter. People would grow or purchase foods in the summer and preserve them for the long winter ahead. Most people do not do this any longer. The "convenience" of centrally located supermarkets has superceeded the need to do any food storage. As a result not only have people "forgotten" how to store food, but also have no meaningful food stroage. As a matter of fact, most people have only about 3 days worth of food available to them at any time (stores also only have about 3 days supply).

Last spring the governemnt warned us that we should have at least 3 weeks of food available to us in our homes - in the event of a pandemic. At the same time, a leading epidemilogist from the Univ of MN stated that we should really have 3-6 months of food available! Wow! How many of us have THAT?

It makes me think about our food system even more. Food travels about 1500 miles to our local stores. In the case of calamity, those food movements may decline. In the case of oil expenses or shortages (like now) we will find that our food costs rise dramatically.

Oil is part of the reason that I decided to start shopping locally and preserving. I purchase more than I need from the farmers market each week. I then preserve what we don't use. I do this so that I won't have to depend upon systems to deliver food to my local stores in the middle of the winter. I can also then preserve my own local food (and know what goes into them).

There are a few ways to preserve foods - canning, freezing, and dehydrating. I mostly can or freeze. I try to do this every Wednesday.

The other day I found fresh organic peaches at a local store. So, this morning I canned them into quart jars. Yes, it really is a labor of love!

First, remove the skins off of the peaches. This can be done by dipping them into a hot water bath of about 30-60 seconds and then into a cold water bath.

Cut them in half and then remove the pits and coarse inner part. Treat so that they don't brown.

Have hot canning jars available (I run them through the dishwasher) or put them into the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Place the peach halves into the jars.

You will want to have a light to medium syrup made to pour over the peaches. Measure the space between the top of the jar and the top of hte food. In this case, it should be 1/2 inch.

Use a non-metal object such as a wooden spoon or chopstick to release trapped air in the jars. Push the chopstick around the edges and through the jars.

Wipe the tops of the canning jars to remove any food particles

Place the lids on the tops (you will have had to have the lids in some simmering water).

Put the jars into the water bath canner for 30 minutes (quart) and 25 minutes (pint).

Remove from the water. You will need to check these after they cool (wait about 24 hours). Gently press down on the center to see if they have sealed.

Label and store!

Today I will be blanching and freezing some vegetables, as well as canning some more fruits (cherries) as well as can tomoatoes (either canning stewed or making sauce to can).


In Recovery said...

So, are they extra tasty?

emme said...

I think so!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I had no idea canning was so simple! Thanks for taking the time to show a step-by-step.

Teri said...

I like the way you've mentioned food storage. It's a real key to self-sufficiency and simplicity

emme said...

Oh yes! Do you have food storage? I am trying to build mine up for the winter months. It is fun to try to figure out.

This fall we are going to visit the farm that Jonathan worked at. They havea year of food stored for over the winter. They are also entirely self-sufficient. I would love to learn more!

Anonymous said...

How do you freeze vegetables so that they don't get freezer burn?

Emme said...

I do use a vacuum sealer.

I flash freeze everything first. To do that, we blanch the veggies, lay them on a cookie sheet and put them into hte freezer.

Once htey are frozen, seal them in a freezer bag or vacuum seal. In a freezer bag, you will need to remove the air.

Anonymous said...

What do you plan to do with the fruit that you've canned? Are you going to make pies?

Emme said...

Some will be for pies. Some fruit will be in the children's lunches, or just to add to other meals :)

PS I love making pies!