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Posts Tagged ‘Food storage’

I have had a FoodSaver vacuum sealer for the over 10 years. Since I have been buying meat from local farmers and ranchers, I have hardly touched the vacuum sealer in the past 4 years.

foodsaver play 2Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of planning ahead and pre-making some foods that will save me some time over the next few months. I will be having surgery and out of commission for a while and unable to spend time doing the things I normally do, like cook and garden. I will have lots of help to get me through the first few weeks, then the house will be back to the two of us. I want to do what I can now to be prepared and make the time easier on everyone, including me. So, I have been baking bread with onion, sage and oregano to make into stuffing and making bread crumbs. I have been stocking up on dry beans and grains (and cat food and cat little!) I have been drying more of my own herbs. I keep many of the dry herbs in the freezer to help keep them fresh.

foodsaver play 3

I have seen the jar sealers from FoodSaver and was curious about how they worked, but I couldn’t find anyone that had used them. I finally just took the plunge and bought both the jar sealer for the regular canning jar and the wide mouth canning jar (actually it was one of those practical Christmas presents that I ordered and told my husband he bought me for Christmas!) Hey, that works for us and I love those type of gifts.

I was so excited to receive the jar sealers that I have been on a vacuum-sealing spree and loving loving loving it. I have pulled all my dry herbs out of the freezer and vacuum-sealed them in canning jars. Most of the things in our cupboards are in glass jars, but I decided to switch them out into canning jars so that I could vacuum seal them. You may remember that I have an obsession with jars…. well, all those jars really came in handy.

I have gone through my soap/lotion-making cabinet and vacuum sealed the elderflower, the calendula and many other dry herbs. Next on my list is making crackers and getting those all vacuum sealed to retain freshness. When sealing anything in jars, just make sure it is completely dry. If there is any moisture and you vacuum seal your jars, you items will not be fresh.

Foodsaver play 1

I have not had these jar sealer for long, but so far I am thrilled with how they work and how easily the jars seal. I love that all the air gets sucked out and that means the contents should stay super fresh for a very long time.

I think these jar sealers make sense if you buy things in bulk, if you are planning ahead, if you are living in a humid climate and you want to extend the shelf life of you food. It all ties in with my frugal nature and trying to plan ahead and be prepared.

Have you used any jar sealers? I would love to hear how they work for you and how you like using them.

Sincerely, Emily

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I had a reader email me the other day wanting to know what was the best way to store her produce from the farmer’s market.

Her problem is that it was spoiling at an unusually rapid rate.  She stores it in plastic in her crisper at the bottom of her refrigerator.

Seeing that we are in the midst of summer harvest I wanted to get you input on how you store your fresh fruits and veggies.

Since I have a garden I usually either pick what we need for that meal or if I have a large quantity I freeze, can, or dehydrate it right away so we have very little stored in our frig.

So what method have you found to be the best?  Do you wash then store, store unwashed?  Do you keep it in plastic bags or out? Do you have any secrets for prolonging the life of fresh produce?

Thanks  Kim

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After receiving many questions about knowing when the saurkraut is finished fermenting I decided to do a post about it. I finished off my kraut this morning and took a few photos to share. After 2-4 weeks, depending on the temp, you should notice that your kraut is no longer bubbling, or is bubbling much less than it was. I usually notice that the brine starts going down instead of spilling over after 3-4 weeks. The warmer it is, the quicker your sauerkraut will finish fermenting (at 70-80 it will take 2-3 weeks at 60 it will take 4-6 weeks). Mine was finished a week or two ago, and I started mine on October 28, it took about 4 weeks to finish fermenting. You will also notice that your sauerkraut become kind of clear, or loses it’s whiteness.

Another way to decide if your sauerkraut is finished is by smell. If you don’t have a good sense of what sauerkraut smells like, but some and smell it. Warm it a bit on the stove and the smell will become more pronounced. It smells pleasantly sour almost vinegary. You don’t want it to smell “off” or moldy.

Don’t be alarmed if some mold or scum forms on top of your kraut while it’s fermenting. Just skim it off and add some more brine. If your brine level gets low and some of the top layer of cabbage gets moldy, simply skim off that cabbage and add more brine (1T. of salt for 1 quart of water for extra brine).

When your sauerkraut is finished, simply take out the jar/bag that you’re using to weigh it down, top off with brine, throw a lid on it and put it in the fridge or in your cool root cellar. Use 1T. of salt for 1 quart of water for extra brine.

You can can it if you’re worried about the coolness of your root cellar or don’t have room in the fridge (to can process in a waterbath canner for 15 minutes). If you can it you kill all the good bacteria though, so it won’t be a good source of probiotics. I like my sauerkraut cooked, so I occasionally can it. Sometimes, however I just lid the jar and put it in the basement.

Do you have any great tips to know when you’re fermented products are finished?

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I must admit to a slight obsession.  I love glass containers.  I especially love old blue glass containers…

You know the ones our grandma’s had!

I use them for all kind of storage.  I have one in my sewing room with old buttons in it.  But I mostly use them to store food in.  This one is destined to store orzo.  I think the little glass lids are just too cool!

Beautiful, simple and made to last!  I find them in antique stores, second-hand stores and at garage sales.  They are great for storing things that you buy in smaller quantities, like chocolate chips.

Since I have switched to exclusively storing in glass everything except my very large bulk items like grains I have had to figure out how to label all my containers.  I wanted something that could easily be changed.  I have tried the making tape and marker labels but hated the sticky residue it left.  I tried paper labels but they got torn.  I finally hit upon something that works great for me…chalkboard paint.  It is inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to apply.

If you have a smooth clean glass container it is as simple as masking off…I purposely wanted the edges uneven so I ripped the tape down the middle.

Apply the tape…

Just a little side note, it is easier to do with your jars empty.  I of course did not heed this bit of my own advice and did it to a jar full of  rolled oats…proceeded to forget them out overnight, it rained and I had to be creative with using up this many oats in a very short period of time as they got damp.  So try for an empty jar…and a sunny day!

Apply your first coat of paint…

I learned that I needed 3 coats of paint for this project.  I also learned that I needed to remove the tape after the first coat was dried.  If you left it on for all three coats when you removed it tended to peel up the paint.  Since I wanted a ‘rustic’ edge anyway painting coats 2 and 3 freehand was not problem.

I also painted each coat in a different direction, vertical, horizontal, and then vertical again to get a crosshatch look otherwise you tended to notice the brush strokes more.

Let dry well and voila!

Jars that have easily changed labels that hold up to hand washing and just are fun!

I have found glassware that is made in the USA by at a few shops in the big city but for me I get mine on amazon.com, I hate driving to the big city.  They are made by Anchor Hocking and for the very large jars like I store my oats in you will pay $23.95.  

 My airtight jars are from Ikea they were not expensive but they are made in China…I am on the lookout for domestically made glass that is also airtight and easy to open and close.  If I find it I will pass it along.

So next time you are at a garage sale keep your eye out for some great glass jars, they will be a great addition to your food storage plan!

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