By Jannie Vaught
From Fruit to Vegetables the lasting result is a pantry full of healthy preserved food. About this time of the growing season, I am taking stock of what I am going to need in a few months. My preserving methods are easy. I can tomatoes and all the stone fruit according to the USDA food safety and use the Blue Ball canning books that cover everything also dehydrating. I find it is too busy and hot to stand in the kitchen making sauces and ketchup. If I have tomatoes canned I can make those specialty items we really enjoy later in the year. I freeze corn, carrots, black eye peas, green beans, and peas. I dehydrate fruit and a few onions and sliced tomatoes for seasoning blends.
I use a hanging solar dryer to dry herbs such as oregano, marjoram, and mints as well as pepper rings in my carport. The Texas heat will turn them into a cinder if done outside in direct sunlight. When they are completely dry I use a Seal a Meal to vacuum pack and store. Label all items with dates. I do make pickles and saurkraut and ferment soda, But this is used as soon as it is finisher brewing and kept in refrigeration. A good fermenting book is True Brews by Emman Christensen which I found at our Llano library then purchased for my personal library. You can always go to your local Agriculture Life office and get their food storage information, and recipes. They will go in a nice binder to keep in your recipe book section. With the shortages that we are seeing now many of us have not been able to purchase canning lids, small and large mouth jar sizes. Unless you buy the complete box of jars with lids. And the online price is 3x the cost plus shipping. Can you say price gouging! I find the off brands to be inferior and do not seal properly and I will not take a chance using them. Until I can purchase at reasonable prices quality lids, I will use all the remaining new lids I have in my canning storage. I will be drying and vacuum packing food for storage. You can use this method for storing extra flour and baking needs which can be stored in containers in your freezer seeds and even your wool sweaters to keep the moths out.
After all my hard work I do not like to share with bugs. And old-fashioned mothballs can be a good item to have on hand for storing many cloth items and even used under your house to chase off unwanted critters! Relying on tried and true products and methods will help every one of us as we get to our garden harvest. Even pickling salt can be used for table salt if you need it, it doesn’t contain Iodine as it makes pickles soft and not crisp. I will also stock up in pickling spices, Citric acid, and even wax for jelly tops if need be. And white sugar is a long storage item that you will need for preservation. When you use sugar with some of the molasses in it or Natural sugars you need to make sure your heat and acid additions per jar are accurate and your heating temperature is correct. I use only cane sugar as again I don’t take chances with preserving food. Also, I scrub with soapy water and boil all my jars and lids and keep everything as hot as possible when canning and also fermenting. Clean counters clean towels and clean hands.
As we journey down this road it is important to go to the proven standards and build your own library that you can depend on. A written source is not going to disappear in an internet loss. It’s just common sense. And as my corn crop is knee-high and my potatoes are about to finish I will be resting for a few weeks and clearing and composting to re-plant those areas with winter squash, corn, and more okra. Succession planting can be very successful in our long growing season. Feed the soil before you plant again. It’s what is under your feet that will provide for you as the season goes.
Preparing for preserving and Growing Green With Jannie