Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Preservation Link Roundup 8/18/10

I really appreciate that Well Preserved discusses in some depth the acidity problem in canning tomatoes (Well Preserved Tomato Sauce Recipe). Yes, the USDA is pretty conservative and you can get away with fudging their safety guidelines quite often. After all, your grandmother probably violated a number of their current rules and you're reading this, right? But,
The spoilage risk is very real. The family who taught ours lost an entire batch (around 200 jars) due to low acid and things began to ferment in bottle. They lost an entire weekend of work, a virtual crop of tomatoes and sauce for the year.
The Atlantic Food Channel has an excellent article on various ways to preserve venison, from curing to corning and, of course, making sausage (both fresh and fermented) (Venison Sausage: A Whole Different Animal). Bonus for Southern California readers, the deer was shot on Catalina Island.

Another cured meat (and a favorite of mine) is pâté. The Kitchn provides a few links on the subject (Do You Have a Good Recipe for Homemade Pâté?). Be sure to check out the comment section for additional links. If you've never made pâté or a rillette or similar, I highly suggest giving it a try. They can be surprisingly easy to make and are a wonderful side dish or appetizer. And you can play with flavors quite a bit. I make my own teriyaki-flavored "spam" for use in homemade musubi.

Food in Jars has a good post on substituting other salts for pickling salt (if you can't easily find it) (Canning 101: On Substituting Salt in Pickling). At the end of the day, there are only a few things you need to know:
  1. Substitute by weight. 3/4 of an ounce per tablespoon for pickling salt. Simply weigh out the other salt.
  2. Make sure the salt is pure. No iodine or free flow agents. The only ingredient listed should be salt.
  3. Take into account that other salts won't dissolve as quickly as pickling salt.
If you can't find pickling salt, popcorn salt makes an excellent substitution. You can also process kosher salt into something resembling pickling salt by pulsing it in a food processor a few times.

The Blueberry Files goes through the steps of pressure canning beets (Pressure Canning Beats). Beets are an excellent candidate for pressure canning, since they generally survive the process quite well. Of course, if you don't have a pressure canner you can pickle beets and can them with a boiling water bath. There are plenty of recipes out there.

A Nutritionist Eats is getting into canning and has a Ball Canning Discovery Kit to giveaway (Canning with Lucia). Visit her blog for information on winning the kit.

I can't emphasize enough how canning works best as a social event. Feast After Famine learns canning from some neighbors at a canning party, "replete with wine and cheese and good cheer... "(Canning Party). Why not invite some neighbors over to learn canning from you?

Tigress in a Jam takes advantage of the fantastic stone fruit out there to make a lovely preserve using summer savory (an inspired choice) and white pepper (Nectarine Preserves with Summer Savory & White Pepper).

I've got mixed feelings about white pepper. It is generally used in dishes as a substitute for black pepper when you don't want little black flecks in your dish, such as in white sauces, lightly colored soups or mashed potatoes. However, there are distinct flavor differences. To me, black pepper is fruitier and more well-rounded, while white pepper is a little more directly spicy with less depth of flavor. More importantly, however, I think that white pepper suffers more from being pre-ground than black pepper. Frankly, I hate pre-ground white pepper. I dislike pre-ground black pepper, but can't stand the white pepper version. So, please, use freshly ground white pepper when you do use it.

Canning seems to get all the press, but sometimes it is important to remember that freezing is an important aspect of food preservation. Putting By freezes their bell peppers (they don't can well by themselves) (Bell Peppers). I like everything they did, except place the pepper strips into gallon ziploc bags. You should usually freeze in quantities that you would use. That way you don't have defrost/refreeze what you haven't used. So, instead of gallon ziplocs, why not quart or pint bags? And I can't emphasize this enough when freezing: label, label, label! When you freeze a lot of stuff, it will save many headaches months later.

Freezing is great, but they seem to fill up quite quickly, so back to canning it is. Putting By also has a post on canning pasta sauce (Pasta Sauce). They use those commercial square-ish pasta jars that I know many people have around the house. I know many people who use them for canning successfully, but I do have to point to the FAQ from the companies page:
Can I reuse the Classico® jar for home canning?
No. A coating is applied at the glass plant to reduce scratching and scuffing. If scratched, the jar becomes weaker at this point and can more easily break. This would increase the risk of the jar breaking when used for canning. Also, the lighter weight of our current jar could make it unsafe for home canning.
Do as you will, just passing on the information.

The LA Weekly's Squid Ink blog reviews yet another new canning book, Canning for a New Generation (Cookbook Review: Canning For A New Generation).
The book might as well be called Canning and Preserving For An Eager But Sometimes Lazy (Or Just Plain Busy) Generation. And that's exactly why we think it's pretty great.

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