Friday, August 17, 2007

First Harvest Production

Well, it has been a couple of weeks since the first of August, and I did in fact have a beach picnic to celebrate. But it has taken this long to get the picture ready for my blog.
As most of you wonderful gardeners know, we only store the surplus. During the growing season we eat like little piggies. So my picture is not truly complete. I also saved some of my produce in the freezer, so it isn't in the picture either. But this will give you a good idea of how I spent my summer vacation. Applesauce, apple butter, apricot jam, chutney, blackberry jam, tomato juice, onion jam, and [dried apples, apricots, peaches, vegetables, seeds, herbs, bulbs,], and granola. Frozen peas, beans, peaches, purees, onions, and blueberries.
Hmmm. I get tired and hungry just thinking about it.
My grandmother used to can every summer. Then she would be afraid to eat what she produced. When she died we had to toss about 6 years of produce that had sat in the cellar for 10 years.
There are several types of processes and certain foods benefit from each kind. It is important to eat all of the canned produce within one year (jams can last 2 years). Always mark the production date on the lid.
Jams, jellies, and acid based foods (pickles)- these foods can be safely sealed in a hot water bath situation. Sugar and citric acid provide adequate acid to stop fermentation and BAD bacteria. Hot pack the food- which means put it into the sterile jars hot (except pickles). A boiling pot, water to cover jar, clean, sterile lid, boil about 20 minutes (pints- add time for quarts). If you cold pack it (put it into sterile jars cold) you need to boil it for about 30-40 minutes (more for quarts).
Other foods, like beans, carrots, corn , etc, need salted water and up to 40 minutes in the boiling water bath. This actually cooks the food in the jar and the salt prevents possible bacteria from growing. At this point a pressure cooker could be useful.
Anything with meat in it poses a special problem and should be cooked in a pressure cooker. Jams actually have a problem with the pressure cooker, because the higher heat destroys the pectin.
This is why the freezer eventually took over my kitchen produce. Frozen meat, fruit, and tougher vegetables taste almost like fresh when cooked. And when I need canned meats or fish, or vegetables- I actually buy them. I am not foolish enough to think that I really can be totally self sufficient in today's world. Freezer foods should be used within 6 months (3 for meats or fish).
Dehydrated foods- fruits, vegetables, meats- should be used within 6 months also. I have never made beef jerky that lasted that long, My daughter dried about 20 apples and ate them all within about 2 weeks. I have dried many things and if they are still around after 6 months- it means I didn't really like it or use it much.
This brings us to Plum Jam. You may say that it is not on the list above, and you are correct. After making several gallons of plum jam, my family decided that they don't like plums all that much. I am still trying to use up jam that is 3 years old. This is how I decided to do it- Plum Teriyaki Sauce.

1 cup plum jam
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 or 3 minced garlic cloves or (1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger grated or (1 heaping teaspoon ginger powder)
1/2 cup water or (apple juice, wine)

Marinate cut up beef or chicken over night or at least 4 hours. You can skewer the meat with veges and BBQ, or stir fry. Boil the used marinade for 15 minutes to reduce it somewhat and use it to brush skewers or pour over rice. This is very sweet and pungent of garlic and ginger. You can heat it up with a tiny bit of cayenne pepper. You can use it over fried tofu and you can use it as a marinade for beef jerky. Mostly, you can hide the plums and they family will think it is wonderful.

Needless to say, I don't can plums anymore. But someday, when I use the last jar of jam, I might.

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