The Recipe That Will Save You From Drowning In Zucchini

zucchini relish in pot kathy h.We are drowning in zucchini. I find them hiding under leaves I would have sworn I checked the day before but here they sit, as big as baseball bats and crying out to be used. Some is sautéed with diced tomatoes and onions and served over rice or pasta. Some is gently steamed and served as a side dish. Still more is shredded and bagged in two cup measures to be turned into fall breads and winter pancakes. Still, I’m left with a lot of huge green squash.

The solution to this bonanza of squash for me is zucchini relish. It has much to recommend it. First and foremost, it uses a lot of zucchini. I make double batches and the recipe I use calls for 10 cups to start, so I can get rid of a lot of squash with Continue reading

Water Bath or Pressure Canners: What Works for You?

Ball Blue Book Food Canning Guide

Ideal for beginning or experienced home canners–The Ball Blue Book has the best and most up-to-date home food preserving information. Available at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

When folks new to canning start out, one of biggest questions asked is this one: which kind of canner should I use? And the answer most often heard is this one: “Well, it depends. What are you canning?”

As frustrating as that might be, that fuzzy answer isn’t out of line.

It really is important to know what you’ll be canning. Depending on the acidity level of the food, different processes and methods are used. Continue reading

Eat Local All Year: Plan Now for Preserving Season

canned cherriesIt’s easy to eat local in Massachusetts in August. Sweet corn, vine ripened tomatoes, tender green beans, creamy milk and abundant eggs make consuming local food a treat. But come the dark days of January, that local diet is a lot harder to manage. That’s what food preservation is all about. You take what’s cheap, plentiful and delicious at the peak of its freshness and preserve it for later use. Preservation is all about manipulating the environment of food so it retains its goodness for months or even years.

Food has a lot of enemies. Microorganisms (mold, yeasts and bacteria) are enemies of food. So is physical damage (one bad apple really will spoil the whole bag). Enzymes that cause food to ripen don’t halt their work when food is harvested. They continue to work until that lovely cantaloupe becomes a sodden mass destined for the compost heap. Food preservation works by controlling the temperature (freezing and root cellaring) removing moisture (dehydrating) or killing mold, yeast and bacteria and then protecting from further contamination by removing and excluding air (canning). You can also change the environment of food by adding salt, sugar or vinegar.

Nothing makes homemade applesauce and tomato sauce easier than the Roma food mill. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Nothing makes homemade applesauce and tomato sauce easier than the Roma food mill. At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

So why discuss food preservation now? Here in Massachusetts the asparagus and rhubarb is still just a promise. The early strawberries won’t even make an appearance until June. We need to discuss it because now is the time to plan your garden, join your CSAor make contact with the farmer who will provide you with raw ingredients for the dilly beans and tomato sauce that will grace your January table.

It’s not too early to take an inventory of jars and lids, pectin and salt and make sure you can put your hands on the ladle and jar lifter when the happy days of canning arrive. I’ll be doing an inventory of what we ran out of and what I overdid so I can plan next year’s pantry. I know without looking that I ran out of peaches and applesauce (it was a terrible tree fruit year) but I rather overdid the tomato sauce. I find I still preserve like I did when I had 8 kids at home. There is only one child at home now, and I just don’t need as much food as I once did.

This kit contains everything you need to start canning this summer! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

This kit contains everything you need to start canning this summer! At Lehmans.com and our store in Kidron, Ohio.

Before I decide on amounts I find it useful to consider the worst case scenario. What if one of my adult kids lost a job? Might they need some food support? Suppose we have a supply disruption? We have had them before and will certainly have them in the future. So what if I have too much sauce? Contrary to popular opinion, canned food does not need to be discarded after a year. As long as the seal is tight and the food looks and smells as it should it’s fine to eat. Last year was a bad year for cherries but no worries for me. I had canned over 100 quarts the year before and we are still eating those cherries.

So what’s on your agenda? Are you going to grow or purchase? What tools and equipment needs to be procured or replaced? Don’t be put off by the high price of good equipment. Go in with a friend or your sister or your church group. Get what you need now while supplies are good. Who knows what the summer may bring. Be prepared to eat well.