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How-To's on putting food aside: canning, freezing, drying, much more...
Location: North Carolina
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Janice: I use an old Amish recipe for baked beans then pressure can them up for 75 minutes. I like them nice and thick. I can all sorts of dried beans so I always have the jars ready for last minute meals.
Thanks Christine. Archive away.
You know, I have come to realize that so much of food preservation starts with simple cooking knowledge. I don't mean that to sound dismissive in the least but I do think recipes (as opposed to cooking basics) can obscure some of the logic of basic cooking. We follow recipes slavishly when often they are created by folks who know only a little bit more than we do about cooking. The internet has bombarded us with so many that it is darn near impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff. Particularly when we are new ourselves.
It is the basic science and techniques of cooking that helps be think through jam making or syrup making. I think about it. I think about what is happening to the structure of my ingredients by the techniques of my cooking. That thinking is the same with food preservation as it is any other cooking technique except with food pres. I needed to learn a few new rules - what will and won't be safe in boiling water canning. What needs to be pressure canned. Why more salt in full fermentation when you want to can your pickles and why you can play with the salt amount if you are not canning it. What is really happening in fermentation - dairy, vegetable, fruit. The role of vinegar in acidifying vegetables and when I can use lower acid vinegars like rice wine and when I can't. Why I want to pick berries after a few dry days of good sunshine. What fruits store better and on and on and on.
The point is, taking the time to think through these things, learn those things, will give you so much power and strength in the kitchen - canning or otherwise.
Sometimes folks say I come off like a know it all and I hate that. I just know what it takes and given that I advocate for returning to a life of skilled home artisan traditions (not for market but for our homes) there is no real way around it. I mean, with so few mothers or fathers in the kitchen to teach us, so little education in the schools (no more home ec), and with so many blogs, cook books, recipes and opinions on the internet, we can often miss out on the fundamentals. Recipes are the flourishes of the thing - not the thing itself. We think we can just follow a recipe and it will come out well. We forget, or never knew, what stands for sound and good cooking, how ingredients function. Why a potato at the first of season will cook differently then at the end. Why what you are seeing now in the markets are stored apples and that if you are wanting to make sauce - and you are on a strict budget - this is the time to do it. They will be soft from the storage and you can or should get them for cheap from any farmer. But all too often I see them priced high at the farmer's market when I know they have been stored and it makes me mad.
But more to the householding point - I think we imagine that learning these tricks will be easy or fast or that they do not deserve the lifetime of effort that allows for running a great householding kitchen. Yes, not everyone wants to know all this stuff but for those who do, well, its a lovely life.
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