Monday, October 19, 2009

Food: Preserving the cornucopia

Fall is known as harvest time for a reason. And with all the crops coming in, it's a good time for loading up on preservable produce. I say bring it on!

So far, of the groceries purchased on Saturday are pretty much still as they were. Five pounds of ground chuck (80/20) has been boiled up and frozen, but otherwise I'm in a holding pattern. The pears need to ripen further, the apples aren't going anywhere, and lo and behold, I still have a decent number of grapes left.

Plans this week include the apple and pear butter as I've already mentioned. Not only am I waiting for them to ripen, but I need to buy pint sized canning jars. And believe me, they stopped carrying them at the grocery a month ago in my neck of the woods. So I'll have to order online. Fortunately, the apple and pear butter recipes are high acid (mostly because of the lemon juice used to prevent browning) so hot water bath canning is perfectly safe. I'm getting this straight from the Blue Book of canning.

I'm a little... nervous? about the yellow squash. I'm sure pressure canning is perfectly safe, but I think I'm going to be more comfortable freezing them. Plus, the pressure canner I have my eye on is $70 bucks... and that is NOT somewhere you want to skimp on quality.

The grapes will be turned into jelly or jam... the difference being whether I leave the skins in or not. The skins have natural pectin in them (the usual thickener for jelly and jam) so I may opt to cook it as jam for the natural pectin and then strain it. They are the tastiest, sweetest red grapes I've ever eaten, so I know anything made of them will be marvelous. Plus, the skins will lend a very pretty color to the whole thing.

So that's the plan over the next week. I do NOT plan on grocery shopping for a while now. We are pretty much covered in the veggie, meat, and starches categories. Mostly just topping off the staples like eggs, milk and maybe bread, although I have about twelve pounds of flour left, so I'm covered there too.

Now hopefully, after my dentist appointment on Tuesday I will still feel like eating. :P

Oh, and at some point I plan on making freezer taquitos from the rest of the ground chuck and the tortillas I picked up. They require less cooking than usual because they can be baked or fried directly from frozen and they don't need anything to hold them together.

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