Fall is harvest time. Farms, orchards, and kitchen gardens are overflowing with vegetables and fruits. After you’ve picked or shopped for your grocery list, why not preserve the bounty?
Imagine that you’ve grown your own food and you can’t eat it all before it spoils. Maybe you frequent the Vancouver Farmers Markets or head to the UBC Apple Festival, and you want to save a special type of produce for use throughout the winter.
Preservation techniques such as canning and dehydrating enable you to lock in food nutrition at peak levels. The other perks add to the appeal – zero additives, reduced food waste, potential year-round gifts, and homesteader cred. Easy and safe food preservation depends on having the right equipment. Here are the essential items of canning and preservation equipment for the home cook.
An essential piece of gear, a canner, preserves food by using boiling water or steam to create an airtight seal inside of a glass jar. There are two types of canners: water bath canners for high-acid produce such as fruits and pressure canners for low acid foods such as vegetables and meats. Canners look like large pots and come with a rack and tongs. They may also include a pressure gauge (for a pressure canner), a funnel, canning jars, and a canning recipe book.
They look terrific as flower vases, toothbrush holders, or cocktail glasses, but mason jars were originally created with canning in mind. You can use jars and metal bands over and over. You need to replace the rubber gasket for each jar whenever you decide to can.
A source of practical advice as well as inspiration, canning recipe books have the measurements and guidelines you need to safely preserve food.
When you’re dealing with bulk fruit and veg, you need help with the slicing, shredding and chopping.
Dehydrating foods is a creative alternative to canning. You can make anything from kale chips to apple crumbles for your morning oatmeal, and even dried mushrooms. Foraged varieties such as porcini work best. Use them to enhance soup, pasta, and risotto.
Fresh juice can keep in the fridge for about a week, but after that it loses nutrition. For the longest storage time, can your juice. Acidic juices (from fruits including tomatoes) should be processed in a boiling-water canner. A pressure canner is essential for veg juices. Canned juice keeps well for at least one year.