{FSC PODCAST} Episode 6: Preserving the Bounty

Happy Late Summer! We’re back after a brief July podcast vacation. In honor of the late summer bounty, this episode focuses on food preservation. That means canning, freezing, dehydrating or otherwise making your food last beyond the growing season.

Our food swaps are always filled with jars of home preserved bounty, from pickled vegetables to smooth jam and jellies. These jars serve as a constant reminder that there are ways to savor summer all throughout the year.

We explore the WHYs of preservation- most of us aren’t out on the prairie trying to put up enough food to last through a harsh winter. We can buy most of what we need at the grocery store, year-round. So then why do we can? Why do we take the time to put up our food?

This episode features two interviews with local canners and food preservationists, who talk about why they can and what they can. Amy Halloran, a local writer, FSC’s Northeast Grain System Expert and inspiration with an impressive urban garden and home preservation resume, sat down with us for a cup of coffee and told us all about her ketchup obsession and what it’s like buying bulk produce from an Amish vegetable auction.

Newbie canner Nikki Alcala then shares her personal story of how she came to embrace a healthier, natural foods lifestyle and how that blossomed into a newfound love for home canning. A big thank you to the wonderful coffee shop and cafe, Spillin’ the Beans, for allowing us to host our podcast interviews there.

We are extremely excited to share an interview with Marisa McClellan, the food preservationist rock star behind the blog Food in Jars and the new book Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-RoundMarisa stopped by our area recently to teach a jam-making class, visit our food swap and talk a bit about her cookbook. After a busy day, Marisa let me steal a few more minutes with her to talk more about small batch food preservation.

Finally, we were so inspired by the comments our readers left on our Food in Jars giveaway. We asked you why you put things in jars… what inspired you to preserve the bounty. Christina shares a few of those responses in this episode.

FOOD PRESERVATION METHODS

Natural Storage (cold storage): Many crops that mature in fall can be stored inside in cool conditions. Apples, Pears, Carrots, Beets, Garlic, winter squashes and chilies. See Deanna’s extensive post on the subject.

Freezing: Good for Fruit & Vegetables: Temperatures below 0 degrees F prohibit bacteria, yeast & fungi to grow (but it does not kill them- once you thaw an item, bacteria will begin to grow again and fast!) That said, enzymes naturally occurring in fruit and vegetables will start to loose texture & taste, even when frozen, therefore MOST vegetables should be blanched (heated) before freezing and most fruits & vegetables should be consumed within 6-9 months for best flavor!

Drying: You can dry foods two different ways: 1) With heat by using your oven or a dehydrator, and 2) with salt or sugar, which draws water out through osmosis. See Gina’s post on DIY Vegetable Bouillon to see an example of drying through salting.

Infusions/Salting/Pickling: Bacteria, yeast & fungi can not survive in alcohol, acidic environments (vinegar), and high concentration of salt or sugar. See Christina’s Cherry-Infused Vinegar recipe for an example of infusing in vinegar.

Excluding Air: a layer of oil or fat can be used to seal to starve oxygen (aerobic activity). Please be mindful that any vegetable, meat, cheese, or fish in oil or fat must be kept in the refrigerator and completely covered in oil by 1 inch as it is not a food preservation on its own. Meat needs to be salted first and vegetables need to be cooked first. See Alexis’ recipe for Garlic Scape-Infused Olive Oil for a starter project!

Heating: Heating above 165 degrees F kills both microorganisms and enzymes (which would speed up decomposition). Bacteria growth slows down (but is not halted) at 140 degrees F. “Danger Zone” (for rampant growth is 40-140 degrees F).

Vacuum: Water-bath & Pressure Canning. Air is removed completely when filled jars are heated causing food and air to expand and released causing a vacuum and sealing the jars tight for shelf stability for 12 months!

Fermentation: 

Lactic Acid: Harnessing harmless beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus or Leuconostoc, to create an environment where the acidity rises due to lactic acid-fermenting organisms so that many other pathogenic microorganisms are killed. The lactic fermentation process created create yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha and water kefir to name a few. See Christina’s recipe for Half Sours, a perfect beginner project or Heather’s dehydrator yogurt piece. FSC Academy also has a new class Fermenting Abundance taught by Elissa Kane coming up both at The Arts Center in Troy and at Brookside Museum in Ballston Spa!

Yeasts: Breads, Beer and Wine are created when yeast is fermented which converts carbohyrates to carbon dioxide (baking) or ethanol (wine & beer).

Smoking: Hot smoking exposes foods (usually meat & fish) to smoke and heat in a controlled environment (like a smoker). Hot smoking occurs within the range of 126 to 176 degrees F. A food, such as meat or fish, are salted & seasoned then smoked to draw out moisture. Smoking meats & fish alone is insufficient for preserving food in practice, unless combined with another preservation method. The main problem is the smoke compounds adhere only to the outer surfaces of the food; smoke does not actually penetrate far into meat or fish. In modern times, almost all smoking is carried out for its flavor. Keep in mind that smoked food contain hydrocarbons, so eat in moderation.

* For more information on food preservation methods, see the National Center for Home Food Preservation or take Christina’s FSC Academy class!

FOOD PRESERVATION RESOURCES

As promised, here is a list of additional resources for getting started on your own food preservation journey.

For those of you just starting out with water bath canning, we highly recommend taking a local class to learn about how to safely can. Information on FSC’s own canning and food preservation classes can be found here.

Alright, food preservationists! Let’s get chatting. Leave a comment here, check in over at our Facebook page or find us on Twitter (#FSCpodcast), our Pinterest Board, and share your favorite ways to put food up. Tell us about your proudest canning moments or share any great resources you have. Don’t forget to download and print out your FREE summer canning labels over here! Make those jars pretty! Summer’s not over yet, so before it goes… let’s get preserving.

Listen Here —> {FSC PODCAST} Episode 6: Preserving the Bounty
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Categories: Food Preservation, FSC Podcast

Author:Christine

From nine-to-five, Christine works in the non-profit world of affordable housing and community development. After hours, you can find her cooking up a storm in her teeny tiny kitchen, curled up on the couch with a stack of good books, or hosting wild one-person dance parties. Christine lives in downtown Albany and likes to imagine a life filled with freshly baked bread, tea parties and 1970s kitchenware.

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6 Comments on “{FSC PODCAST} Episode 6: Preserving the Bounty”

  1. Sara
    August 31, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    This is great! Thanks for posting this. I’m listening to the second interview now with the new canner and something she and Christina said jumped right out to me- store your jars without the bands on them. Why do you do this? I would love to hear your thoughts on this recommendation. Thank you!

    • August 31, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      The reason you store your processed, shelf-stable jars without the bands is because 1) You don’t need the bands at all. If the jars have been processed, those lids aren’t going anywhere! 2) If something is wrong with the jar, if it wasn’t processed correctly, etc. there is a possibility that the seal will be broken and the pressure of the contents could force the lid up and off of the jar. The band would keep it on and could potentially cause a little jar explosion that we would like to avoid. 3) It is easier to tell if something funky is going on in your jar without the bandon. Without the band, you can tell if the contents have seeped out, which would indicate a poor seal and that you MAY need to toss the jar or refrigerate it.

      Does that make sense? Thanks for listening!

  2. Sara
    August 31, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    I had never heard of that before but it all makes sense. Thanks for your quick response!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] the scratch habits I have, and so I generally stick to writing about them. I write about pancakes, and compulsive canning, and pickling kohlrabi. I write about cooking gigantic meals for herds of people, and prepping […]

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  3. {FSC Time Machine} podcasting in 2012 | FROM SCRATCH CLUB - January 17, 2013

    […] {Episode 6} Preserving the Bounty In honor of the late summer bounty, this episode focuses on food preservation. That means canning, freezing, dehydrating or otherwise making your food last beyond the growing season. Our food swaps are always filled with jars of home preserved bounty, from pickled vegetables to smooth jam and jellies. These jars serve as a constant reminder that there are ways to savor summer all throughout the year. We explore the WHYs of preservation- most of us aren’t out on the prairie trying to put up enough food to last through a harsh winter. We can buy most of what we need at the grocery store, year-round. So then why do we can? Why do we take the time to put up our food? […]

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