THE PERKS OF PRODUCE PRESERVATION
Fresh and seasonal. Two top qualifiers for good eating. Eating fresh and in season is indeed a great thing, but fresh produce isn’t always available year-round. After all, the deal with eating “in season” is that plants have seasons when they are, and aren’t producing food!
Technology has given us many gifts (hello, Foodstand) but sometimes old school is best. Back when flying corn from Mexico so that New Englanders could enjoy a “fresh” cob in February wasn’t an option, people canned the kernels to enjoy the sweetness all year long. Not only were underground cellars used for storing root vegetables, they were also the perfect place for shelves of salted meats and fish, and canned produce.
Don’t let the thought of colorless peas and carrots of the 1950s dissuade you, produce well-preserved in jars at its peak can actually be quite delicious. It is true that some vitamins decrease significantly with time after harvest—significant amounts of Vitamins A and C, for example—but others remain more intact. And often times poorly stored “fresh” produce loses more nutritional value than that which has been properly canned and stored.
Preserving food for winter prevents waste if you’re growing a large crop, and allows you to save money in the summer by buying in bulk from the farmers market. Plus, you’ll impress all of your hipster friends with your collection of rad jars… And having some beautiful ingredients on hand for a stir fry, or blueberries for a warm fruit compote on homemade pancakes is a great way to brighten up any dreary winter day. Eating strawberries in the form of jam on a hot, crisp piece of toast with butter in December? Perfection.
Are you ready to #GetReal by canning your own food? Serious Eats’ A Beginner’s Guide to Canning is a great place to start. Want the lowdown on the necessary tools? Check out Food52’s Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s 9 Essential Tools for Pickling and Preserving. Ready for some recipes? Ball’s Recipe Index for preserving indicates the method and difficulty level to make the process as easy as possible.
EAT & DRINK
PICKLED CAULIFLOWER by Ball
3 quarts cauliflowerets (about two large heads)
1 1/2 cups peal onions
1/4 cup Ball Salt for Pickling & Preserving
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 quart vinegar, 5% acidity
1 hot red pepper (optional)
PREP: Wash cauliflower and hot red pepper, if using, under cold running water; drain. Cut cauliflower into individual cauliflowerets—measure 3 quarts cauliflowerets. Peel onions—measure 1 1/2 cups peeled onions. Combine cauliflowerets, onions, and salt. Cover onions with ice. Cover and let stand 2 to 3 hours in refrigerator. Drain onions. Rinse onions under cold running water; drain. Cut a small slit in hot pepper on two opposite sides.
COOK: Combine sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, turmeric, and vinegar in a large saucepan. Add hot pepper, if desired. Bring mixture to a boil. Add cauliflowerets and onions. Reduce heat to a simmer (180°F); simmer 5 minutes. Remove hot pepper and discard.
FILL: Pack hot vegetables and pickling liquid into a hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180°F ) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
PROCESS: Lower the rack into simmering water. Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process pint jars 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.
SPICED APPLE SLICES by inhabitat
8 – 10 pounds sweet, crisp apples
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
4-5 whole allspice berries
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups vinegar
2/3 cups agave, if desired
Wash, core, and peel apples, then cut lengthwise into eighths. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent them from browning, and set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, slowly. Drain your apple wedges and add them to the liquid mixture, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to pull the simmered apples out of the mixture and pack them into the sterilized, pre-warmed jars, leaving 1/2 an inch of headspace. Then, use a ladle to pour the syrup over the apples, covering them, but keeping that 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any bubbles with a plastic spoon handle or bubble remover, clean the rim, apply and adjust the lid and cap, and then process for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.