Food Preservation


Draft – to be formatted (can you help?)

Why preserve food.


Because if trying to be self sufficient: you will starve if you don’t preserve food.


Saves waste in Gluts


Its Fun.



Dangers to fresh food.

Enzymes:

Present naturally in fresh food and in the body. Control processes like digestion.
You must denature them by heat or stop them working by cold/changing their environment.

Bacteria:

Present in the atmosphere, soil, unsterilized jars, your hands, fucking everywhere. They multiply rapidly when they can and are the commonest cause of food poising.
You can kill them with extreme heat, or stop them multiplying by freezing or making their environment unfavorable e.g salt, acid etc.

Yeast:

Present in the atmosphere. Can be our friends mmm beer.
Destroyed by heat and slowed down by cold.

Fungi:

Reproduce by microscopic spores found in the atmosphere. This is what makes food mouldy.
You can stop it by freezing, making the environment unfavourable, or by the stopping the spores reaching the veg by clamping etc.

Methods of preservation.

Keeping vegetables as they are:

  • Hanging – e.g onion ropes.
  • Clamping – storing veg outside in the ground.
  • Dry Storage – carrots in sand, pumpkins in a cool dry place etc.

Changing their
nature but still veg: Freezing:
Produce
will keep until defrosted and then deteriorate.


Drying: Will
keep preserved for ever, add water to eat.

Bottling:
Heating produce and then stopping nasties getting in.


Salting:
Adding Salt (mainly meat but also cabbage)





Metamorphosing the
produce: Jams:
A mixture of
fruit, glucose and pectin


Chutney/Pickles:

A mixture of produce, vinegar, sugar salt and spices.


Brewing:
Turning produce into drinkable stuff


Vinegar:
Continuing the oxidization process from beer.





Politics of some of
these methods:




Freezing:
Cooling is one of the most energy intensive things you can do. It
takes much less energy to heat than to cool below ambient room
temperature.





A freezer is a high
technology device, whilst you can cool using funky low tech stuff
(pots in side pots etc.) you can’t freeze without industrial western
technology.


However it can be much
less energy intensive than buying food from supermarkets, grown using
industrial agriculture





Sugar:
Don’t get my started. Sugar is either from canes grown in
plantations on the other side of the world or from beets which
require a massive energy intensive process to turn it into
crystalline sugar.




However there are
alternatives.





Beet: To
turn beet into sugar crystals requires huge furnaces and centrifuges.
To turn it into a slightly bitter sugary syrup in your house is
cool.





Wash, brush and peel
the sugar_beets, cut them into small cubes or slices. Boil in only as
much water as absolutely needed until cooked.




Place on muslin and squeeze out thoroughly. Pour
the juice into the pot again and boil the juice at medium heat on
stirring all the time until its consistency is honey-like.


Bottle. This is glucose.


Tree Sap: Everyone knows about Maple
syrup, but what about Birch Sap and Sycamore Sap closer to home.


To tap a tree:


A Tree should be a least 10 inches in diameter
and 4 ½ feet off the ground before tapping. Tap in spring
when the sap is rising. Drill a hole the size of your tap and 1 ½

inches deep. Knock in your tap hand tight, place bucket underneath.


Then add sap to a pan and boil, as it boils down
keep adding more sap, keep the sap above 1 ½ inches in the
pan. Bottle while hot. This is a Glucose/ Fructose/ Sucrose
combo.


Honey: There are lots of ethical issues
with honey. Animal Rights with bee treatment. The spread of
disease from domestic to wild bees e.g veroa mite. Do all wild bees
now have veroa mite and need to be managed? I leave you to decide.
However it can be a local well managed source of sugar. This is
a glucose/ fructose combo.


Concentrated Apple Juice: This
made by freezing apple juice. Then as it melts pour off the melt
fluid whilst the ice remains. This is because apple juice freezes at
a lower temperature than water.
This is fructose.

Apples and pears in general:


Apples
(pears as well) are the preserves friend. Not only do some varieties
store well, but they are used in jams and chutneys as pectin.
Sweetener in chutney (as apples or as juice concentrate see above).
And cider vinegar for chutneys and pickles. And Cider mmmmmm Not
only that but apple trees grow well in this climate and are extremely
prolific. If you want to start preserving find yourself a good
source of apples (or even better plant a myriad of apple trees).


To make cider (or pear) vinegar.


Method 1: Press the fruit into a fermentation
bin and leave for a year.


Method 2: (This works for all vinegars) Have a
pot which you pour into the top, with a tap at the bottom. Fill
with a medium (Beech wood shavings work particularly well).
Inoculate either with old vinegar or fresh cider plus a vinegar
mother (Mother of vinegar is a slime composed of a form of cellulose
and acetic acid bacteria). Add alcohol to the top, when the mother
starts to fall. Take vinegar from bottom. takes about 1 month.


General Guidelines
for preserving :


Harvest
produce for storage in its peak condition.

Harvest
produce carefully: bruised produce will rot quicker.


Remember some
varieties store better than others, eat the ones that don’t
first.


Check your stored
produce regularly and remove any rotting.





Hanging –
Used for hanging onions,
squashes and garlic.. Hang in a dry cool airy place without hard
frosts.

Onions/ Garlic.
Hang when dry. Take four onion stalks together. Then tie to
string. Add more onions by tying stalks to string. If already
destalked you can sew them on to string. Then hang from roof of
store.


Squashes.
Hang in nets, with barriers between fruit.





Clamping – For
storing large amounts of root veg outside. Its a pile of veg with
straw and earth on top.


Chose an
unwaterlogged site.

Dry your veg a couple
of hours.


Add a layer of straw.


Add your veg in a
pyramid shape.


Cover with straw and
leave for a day or two (more if it rains)


Add 15cm of dry
earth. Leave tunnels of straw for air circulation.


Pat down the sides
for ease of rain runoff.

Make several smaller
clamps rather than one big one.





Dry Storage : Used
for roots, squashes, apples and pears etc.


For Roots store in
sand.


Put a container in a
frost free place.


Add alternate layers
of veg and sand, making sure the veg don’t touch.

Use sand that is only
just moist (dry in the sun if necessary)


Squashes:


Store
squashes in a cool dry space, in nets or on shelves with no contact
between fruit.


Apples and Pears
etc.


Use
late ripening fruit and discard any damaged fruit. Wrap in newspaper
and place on a cool, dark and not to dry shelf.


Freezing: Most
fresh produce and some cooked (e.g. Stewed apples, tomato puree) can
be frozen. Although remember freezing doesn’t kill micro organisms
and you will have to use as soon as possible after freezing.

To Freeze.


Freeze as soon as
possible after harvesting


Blanche your
vegetables by immersing them in boiling water for two minutes and
then immediately immersing in cold water.


Leave to cool
completely.


Place in labeled
storage containers (e.g ice cream tubs)


Place in freezer.
Don’t place new items next to old items as the heat will help the old
items defrost.

Drying: All
produce can be dried although not so popular these days.


Peas and Beans, and
Chestnuts etc. are best dried whole.


Apples (and other
fruit), root veg (well more parsnips than taties) and mushrooms are
best dried sliced thinly.


Herbs should be
blanched before drying.


To dry either hang on
a string or place on a tray, in a warm dry place, like airing
cupboard or oven on a very low heat.


Place in an airtight
container after drying.


Bottling: Best
used for fruit, but anything could be bottled, sugared cabbage
anyone..?. You kill all bacteria and then bottle in sterilized
jars at heat so there is no introduction of bacteria.


Using sterilized
airtight jars (either clip or screw top)


Fill with fruit.


Then either fill with
hot water (60 + degrees) or with hot syrup (a sugary water)


Add loose lids place
in pan and cover in warm water.

Simmer for a while
(between 30 mins or an hour depending on the fruit).


Tighten lids and
leave to cool.


Salting: A form
of dehydration. Mainly used for meat on long journeys, but heavily
salting produces environment preserves all things, but it may not
be that nice. Exceptions like Sour kraut and Olives aside.


Sourkraut:


5 lbs shredded white
cabbage


2 oz salt

Shred cabbage finely, put it in a large pan.
Mix cabbage and salt with your hands. Pack gently with hands or
potato masher. Repeat until crock (Al uses a 6 gal plastic bucket)
is nearly full. Cover with cloth, plate and clean rock or something
heavy. During the curing process, kraut needs daily attention.
Remove scum as it forms and wash and scald cloth often to keep it
free from scum and mold. At room temperature, fermentation will be
complete in 10 to 12 days. Pack into jars adding enough juice to
fill jars. Often there is not enough juice. If this happens, make a
weak brine by dissolving 2 tablespoons of salt to a quart of
water. Screw bottle lids on tight and process in a boiling water
bath for 15 minutes. After bottles are cool be sure they have
sealed before putting them away.


I won’t talk about olives, but if you manage
to grow a glut of them come and find me.


Jams: This
is the mixing of Fruit, Glucose and Pectin. Bacteria are killed by
heat and are prevented from reentering the fruit by the high sugar
content.


The setting of the
jam is a reaction between Pectin, Acid and Sugar. Some fruits are
naturally high in pectin, to others it is essential to add pectin
(in the form of apples) and usually acid (in the form of lemon
juice).





High
Pectin Medium Pectin Low Pectin

Black and
Redcurrants apricots late blackberries cooking apples early
blackberries cherries


damsons greengages elderberries


gooseberries loganberries medlars


plums raspberries pears


quince rhubarb


strawberries

The sugar required is
glucose and so use beet or tree sap. If you use honey tis a
conserve (thick syrup with fruit in). The amount of sugar is
important, the more sugar the thicker and better set. To little
sugar will be runny. Experiment, I have got jam to set using half
the sugar indicated in the recipe by adding lots of pectin.


To Make Jam:


Use
just ripened fruit.


Heat in a pan with
the minimum amount of water until mushy


Test for pectin:
Take a tea spoon of the juice and mix in a jar with a tablespoon of
meths. If a large jelly like clot forms – high pectin, if
lots of clots – medium pectin, if no clots – low
pectin.

Add apples and lemon
juice if required.


Add sugar (amounts
vary but usually about 60% by weight, remember you can get away
with a lot less.


Once dissolved, bring
as quickly as you can to setting point, 105 C. To test without jam
thermometer. Put a teaspoon of jam onto a cold saucer. Allow to
cool for 1 min. Push the surface gently with you finger tip. If
it wrinkles, rock and roll, if not bring jam back up to the boil.


Bottle immediately in
sterilized jars.





Chutney/Pickles: A
pickle is pieces of fruit/ veg stored in vinegar. A chutney is
fruit/veg cooked in vinegar.

This preserves by
killing the bacteria by heat and making an unfavourable
environment for their reintroduction, using vinegar, spices, salt
and sugar.


Spiced vinegar can
be used for both. To make place 1oz whole spices in 2pt bottle of
vinegar (25g/1Ltr), after removing a little of the vinegar to make
room for the spices. Screw the top back on and leave for 6-8
weeks.


Pickles


Use young fresh veg.


Cut to size.


Soak in brine (100g
salt to 1ltr water) for 24 hours

If a hard veg like
beetroot, cook before pickling.


Pack into sterilized
jars and cover by at least 1cm with vinegar.


Chutneys


First
rule is to experiment, its fun and you can develop a whole variety of
interesting flavours.


A good chutney
should be slow cooked (can take days) and left to mature for at
least 6 weeks. This makes it mellow.


Its best to use
whole spices in chutney as ground can give a muddy colour to the
chutney.

Don’t use metal
spoons or iron or copper pans, as the vinegar and slow cooking
corrodes and you have metallic tasting chutney, mmm!


You need The veg
(usually plus onions and apples although not essential), vinegar
(the stronger the better), salt, sugar and spices.


The ratio is approx
(although experiment) 4k veg, 20 g salt, 400g sugar and between ½
– 1ltr vinegar. If unsure always add more vinegar it just
takes longer to cook that way.


Chop veg and place
in a pan with half the vinegar. Cook until veg is soft.


(Unless something
like parsnips/turnips/potatoes where you boil in water until
soft, drain and then mash)

Add the remainder of
the vinegar, salt, sugar and spice, and cook slowly for at least 3
hours.


To test consistency
drag a wooden spoon through the chutney. It should leave a clean
path with no liquid showing.


Place when still hot
into sterilized jars.


If chutney shrinks
in the jar, the cover isn’t airtight.


If a layer of
moisture collects on top, it wasn’t cooked enough. You maybe able
to rescue it by recooking and resealing.







Sterilization process: You
need to basically heat the glass to kill all bacteria so when the
clean food is placed in them and sealed airtight no bacteria are
in there.


You can sterilize jars by placing them in a
hot oven (At Least 160 C) for 10 minutes, or


Boiling them in water for 10 minutes.


However if find both of these methods
difficult due to handling lots of hot glass. So I.


Fill jars with boiling water and leave for 5
minutes, pour water back in kettle and reboil. Add to Jars and
leave for another 5 minutes, pour water back in kettle and reboil
and fill and empty straight away. Immediately fill with hot
produce and seal.