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SAVORING THE SUN


Three Ways to Preserve Summer’s Goodness by Judith Fertig


“B


eing a locavore is fabulous if you live somewhere like California,” says Audra Wolfe, a co-founder of Canvolution and an ex- pert food preservationist. “But if you live in the Northeast, unless you learn food preservation, you could be eating local turnips and kale all winter,” she notes with a chuckle.


The mounting desire to eat locally grown food, know what’s in our food and reduce our carbon footprint, as well as shrinking household budgets, are con- tributing to what The New York Times recently cited as a renaissance in home food preservation. “In a time of high food prices, job losses and food safety scares, home canning is booming,” agrees June Taylor, a Berkeley, California, food pres- ervationist. According to Jarden Home


Brands, makers of Kerr and Ball brands of glass canning jars, sales of canning equip- ment were up 30 percent in 2009. The simplest methods for “putting by” food are freezing, refrigerator canning or multi-step water bath canning. Pres- sure canning, dehydrating and fermenting require special equipment (pressure cook- ers, dehydrators and large crocks), as well as more advanced knowledge. For most of us, a large pot and some pint-size glass canning jars with lids and metal sealing rings comprise the basic equipment we need to get started.


Freezing - Freezing can be as easy as rinsing berries in very cold water, pat- ting them dry, and then placing them on a baking sheet in the freezer until frozen solid. Such quick-frozen berries can then be placed in freezer storage containers


and will keep for up to six months. Some foods, like vegetables, need to be blanched first—plunged into boiling water for a minute or two, then shocked in an ice water bath—then allowed to cool before being placed in freezer storage containers. Cooked sauces, salsas and chutneys can simply cool before being frozen and will also taste best when eaten within six months.


Refrigerator Canning - Because most vegetables have low acid content, which can invite bacteria growth, can- ning them also involves pickling—add- ing a vinegary brine to increase the acid level. Refrigerator-pickled cucumbers, Swiss chard stems, green tomatoes, beets and green beans will keep for up to six months if kept covered in pickling brine in the refrigerator.


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