Sunday, September 5, 2010

Canning Adventures with Simplicity Mom!

Woohoo!  Our first guest post...welcome to the delightful Stephanie G from Simplicity Mom
Please go and check out her blog and her journey towards living more simply and sustainably! 
Here's the post:
I think it's safe to say we're getting this home canning thing down. I'm still nervous about the pressure canner. I just know it's going to explode and take me out. But I can practically water bath can with eyes shut. Not only is it a practical way to save what we reap but it provides a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction. Plus, hubby usually helps and we have a good time together in the kitchen, sort of like a "date night" over boiling water and bubbling fruits and vegetables.

Ever the doomer, Hubby likes to point out that to be a well rounded, sustainable and prepared family, we should explore other food preservation techniques. He's not a pessimist per se....more, he sees the direction the world is headed and believes that we should be as prepared as possible for what may come. It's a good combo: he's a survivalist, I'm an environmentalist and proponent for simple living....we're getting prepared, treading lightly on the earth and becoming happier people in the process! Anyway,Hubby thinks that at some point in time, there may not be canning supplies to be had. Whether flood, or famine or whatever, what happens if we can't get canning lids? How would we preserve our food? Aside from buying out the stores, we have turned to the book Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning. This book details food preservation old school style. We're talking drying, lactic fermentation, alcohol, vinegar and oils. Any of these methods can be used to save your harvest and you don't need canning lids or electricity.

The first experiment was radishes. I've begun to look at radishes like I look at zucchini. Tasty for the first couple weeks and then you are so overrun you don't know what to do with them. Hubby decided he would used lactic fermentation to preserve them. He filled the jars with clean, trimmed radishes, occasionally adding salt and packing them down tightly. Thinking the radishes might be bland, he tossed in a couple of cloves of raw garlic for good measure. Then, he covered them with boiling salted water and put them in the pantry to do their thing.

All was well for few days. The water had turned a lovely pink color and the radishes bobbed happily in their brine. I don't quite remember when I started noticing the smell. I would catch faint wafts of something I couldn't quite put my finger on every time I opened the pantry. Then, after about two weeks, I came in the house after a morning of errand running and when I breezed by the pantry, I was overcome by the pungent stench of something rotting. I tore the pantry apart expecting to find a moldy potato or a dead rodent. But no. I took one whiff of those jars of radishes and nearly passed out. I didn't even save the jars. I threw all six of them in the trash, unopened. Lesson learned. Radishes are best eaten fresh, straight from the garden. Save the lactic fermentation for something else!

After the radish disaster, you would understand why I might be hesitant to try any more of these "stone age" preservation techniques. However, we had a sizable carrot crop which we harvested so as to make room for fall plantings and not a lot of freezer space. So....hubby decided we should try preserving them in oil. The carrots were scrubbed, trimmed and sliced. The spears were blanched in vinegar, packed loosely into jars, sprinkled with herbs and spices and covered with olive oil. That's it. And though I was skeptical, they are the BEST carrots I have ever eaten. They are supposed to cure for couple of weeks but they are already bursting with flavor. I've never seem my kids eat so many carrots in one sitting! Really. I'm not a big carrot fan but these would be great as an appetizer, chopped in a salad or straight out the jar. And work was minimal. No hot boiling pots, no timers....easy peasy.

As happy as I am that the carrots were so much more successful than the radishes, I still think the classic canned good is my preferred method of preservation. We will continue to experiment but just in case....I think I'm stocking up on jars and lids!! 


*Thank you Simplicity Mom!
I know I'll be checking out that book for sure!

1 comment:

  1. You are most welcome. I'm so excited you started this blog. I can't wait to read and share or recipes and experiences!

    Stephanie G.