Sunday, February 22, 2009

Some concerns

I am often reading various forums in various places, and time and time again I read people recommending different methods of preserving.

Now I know my ways aren't the be-all and end-all of it. And that everybody has their own opinion about what is required when preserving different types of food. So rather than become the evil woman who rants at everyone who's opinion is different to hers - I tend to ignore it. I will say my little peice about what I choose to do - then let it lie.

It's very difficult though. Because IMO, people are playing with their health is a serious way if they food they preserve is not properly done. And on open forums, often people who are ready these different methods are completely new to preserving, and don't have the knowledge behind the methodology.

So anyhow - here I'm going to list a few basic things that comprise MY do's and don'ts of preserving food.

DO list.

  • Always have clean, sterile jars.
  • Always have NEW lids (if using recycled jars, or Mason jars, or the bronze-coloured FV jar lids.)
  • Always use NEW rubbers on FV jars.
  • Always completely cover jars with over an inch and a half of water when preserving using the boiling water method (suitable for high acid foods only)
  • Always use a pressure canner according to the directions supplied with it for low acid foods.
  • Always ensure your kitchen is clean, your tools and equipment are sterile.
  • Always use the most up to date preserving information you can find.
  • Always add lemon juice or citric acid to tomato-based preserves to ensure the acid content of your food is high, unless you intend to pressure can.
  • Always check your jars thoroughly for damage, nicks and cracks before each use.

DO NOT list

  • Never use the water bath method for low acid preserving.
  • Never use methodologies in books printed in the 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's etc. (although some recipes can be adapted, best not to until you really know what you are doing!)
  • Never leave part of the jars out of the water in the water-bath method. (there is no way of knowing that the steam produced by the boiling water actually gets or stays hot enough to keep the contents of the jars boiling during the process)
  • Never use old lids (unless you are using the stainless steel Vacola lids)
  • Never eat food that looks off, smells funny, or doesn't seal properly when it cools after preserving.

Well. I guess that's all pretty self-explanatory.

I think I might take things to the extreme - I will waterbath my sauces, my jams, my relishes, everything - even though my mother looks at me very strangely when I do so! But the way I see it is this - I have put a lot of time, money and effort into making this produce. SO I am going to do the very best that I can do to ensure that said produce is kept completely sterile and preserved properly, so I don't get any horrible surprises when I go to use it in the following year.

It just makes sense to me, that's all.


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