Posted in Food storage, Frugality, Herbs, preparedness, tagged Food Preservation, food saver jar sealer, Food storage, FoodSaver, frugal, frugal food storage, jar sealer, preparedness, preservation, preserving the harvest, vacuum sealer on January 12, 2013 |
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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.
Over 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.
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.
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.
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I have zucchini. This is happiness to me.
The story is, I can’t seem to grow zucchini at all. The dang squash vine borers are horrible. So I out smarted them and planted zucchini in my neighbors garden.
We watched the plant grown and develop beautiful leaves. Watched the flowers open and then the little zucchinis start to develop. In the blink of an eye – shazam – it was time to harvest (you know how sneaky that zucchini can be!) The plants are loaded and I had to leave town! No kidding. All that waiting. The thrill to watch the zucchini start to develop and grow… and I leave town. My neighbors aren’t interested in eating zucchini, in fact, they have never had it before, but they will pick and shred it for me while I am gone.
So, I promise to bake them zucchini bread. I promise to stir fry some for them. Promise Promise promise. It will be great (I love zucchini!) I picked the zucchini in the above photo the day before I left town. I shredded them and stashed it in the freezer.
I am dreaming of zucchini fritters or poor mans crab cakes. I am dreaming of zucchini in my spaghetti sauce. Oh, I am dreaming of zucchini bread.
How are you preserving your fall harvests? How about your zucchini… How do you preserve that so you can use it later?
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Posted in Canning, Cooking, Food Preservation, Food storage, Learning, Nutrition, Old Ways, tagged Canning, Cooking, fermenting, Food storage, Nutrition, Old Ways, preservation on December 16, 2009 |
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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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In my family, you always eat sauerkraut on New Year’s day to ensure a prosperous New Year. This tradition has been passed down through generations of my dad’s family. When my grandmother died, my dad took over the reigns as the chef on New Year’s. He’s developed his own special recipe that’s quite tasty, even for non-sauerkraut lovers. If you’d like to see his recipe check out my New Year’s Day post.
Several years ago, when we started to eat more locally, I started making the kraut for our New Year’s meal. I typically start the kraut in October so it has 4-6 weeks to ferment. But you still have time to get a batch in before the holiday!
Sauerkraut that ferments at cooler temperatures – 65 or lower – has the best flavor, color and vitamin C content. The fermentation process takes longer at these temperatures, around 4-6 weeks. That’s probably why it’s traditionally made in the fall. Looks like I’m making mine at the right time, it should be ready in December and waiting in the fridge for New Years!
Making sauerkraut is quite easy all you need is cabbage (red or green), salt, and time (generally 3 T of salt for each 5 lbs of cabbage). Slice up the cabbage as thinly as you’d like, I usually do some really thin and some thick for variety. Transfer some sliced cabbage to a big glass bowl and sprinkle it with salt, then smash with a wooden spoon or potato masher and mix. Continue adding cabbage and salt and mixing and smashing until the bowl is half full. At this point I usually let the cabbage sit for 10-15 minutes to wilt because this makes it easier to pack into the jar I use as a fermenting crock. If I had a big crock I’d salt and smash right in the crock.
Transfer the cabbage to a jar or crock, smash it down and continue working until all the cabbage is salted, smashed and packed into the jar. Let the cabbage sit overnight, if the brine hasn’t covered the cabbage make some brine (1.5 T of salt to 1 quart of water) and pour over the cabbage. Weigh the cabbage down to keep it submerged below the brine. Some people use a Ziploc bag filled with brine, I use a canning jar to weigh down the cabbage because I’m not comfortable using plastic. Let it sit for 4-6 weeks until it stops bubbling and it tastes like sauerkraut. Make sure you check the kraut every couple days and add brine if the level goes down. I typically end up adding some several times during fermentation. After 4-6 weeks (or less if it’s warmer) you’ll have kraut (taste to see if it’s done). You really can’t get much simpler. When it’s finished store in the fridge and enjoy whenever you want. You can enjoy cold as is or cook it in recipes. You really can’t get much simpler.
When I was making this I thought about all the women in past generations of my family that spent time each fall making sauerkraut for New Year’s. Connecting with our food heritage is such a wonderful thing. Hopefully our nieces & nephew will grow up with fond memories of eating Grandpa’s Famous Sauerkraut on New Year’s and continue the tradition with their families.
Do you have a specific food or recipe that has been passed down through the generations of your family?
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