Friday, October 10, 2014

Home Grown Preservation Pointers

The days are about numbered for any remaining tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and other very tender edible vegetables.  If you're still covering at night and they are ripening, keep harvesting but preserve the extras. The quickest and easiest way I preserve peppers and tomatoes is to blanch and freeze. Some people skip the blanching and just toss chopped peppers into a freezer bag, same for tomatoes, but they don't need chopping. I find that blanched peppers have no bitterness when used later in chilis, stews or other dishes. 

Earlier in the week I blanched several peppers. Blanching simply means scalding vegetables in boiling water.  It took me about two hours from start to finish to boil the water, add the seeded, chopped peppers, cool, transfer to a drying towel, then freeze.

Below are the exact directions for blanching from the National Center for Home Preservation from the University of Georgia.  This is an excellent site to learn about all forms of food preservation and food storage for home grown fruits and vegetables. Check it out - National Center for Home Food Preservation  Add an extra minute boiling time for high altitudes.  

A couple of other sites to check out are - High Altitude Food Preparation and Food Safety Publications from CSU 

Blanching

Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture.
Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.
Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Follow recommended blanching times (pages 229-230).

Water Blanching

For home freezing, the most satisfactory way to heat all vegetables is in boiling water. Use a blancher which has a blanching basket and cover, or fit a wire basket into a large pot with a lid.
Use one gallon water per pound of prepared vegetables. Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

Steam Blanching

Heating in steam is recommended for a few vegetables. For broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and winter squash, both steaming and boiling are satisfactory methods. Steam blanching takes about 1½ times longer than water blanching.
To steam, use a pot with a tight lid and a basket that holds the food at least three inches above the bottom of the pot. Put an inch or two of water in the pot and bring the water to a boil.
Put the vegetables in the basket in a single layer so that steam reaches all parts quickly. Cover the pot and keep heat high. Start counting steaming time as soon as the lid is on. See steam blanching times recommended for the vegetables listed below.

Microwave Blanching

Microwave blanching may not be effective, since research shows that some enzymes may not be inactivated. This could result in off-flavors and loss of texture and color. Those choosing to run the risk of low quality vegetables by microwave blanching should be sure to work in small quantities, using the directions for their specific microwave oven. Microwave blanching will not save time or energy.

Cooling

As soon as blanching is complete, vegetables should be cooled quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process. To cool, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water, 60ºF or below. Change water frequently or use cold running water or ice water. If ice is used, about one pound of ice for each pound of vegetable is needed. Cooling vegetables should take the same amount of time as blanching.
Drain vegetables thoroughly after cooling. Extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables are frozen.


Blanching Times*

Vegetable Blanching Time
(minutes)
Artichoke-Globe
(Hearts)

7
Artichoke-Jerusalem 3-5
Asparagus
Small Stalk
Medium Stalk
Large Stalk

2
3
4
Beans-Snap, Green, or Wax 3
Beans-Lima, Butter, or Pinto
Small
Medium
Large

2
3
4
Beets cook
Broccoli
(flowerets 11/2 inches across)
Steamed

3
5
Brussel Sprouts
Small Heads
Medium Heads
Large Heads


3
4
5
Cabbage or Chinese Cabbage
(shredded)

1 1/2
Carrots
Small
Diced, Sliced or Lengthwise Strips

5
2
Cauliflower
(flowerets, 1 inch across)

3
Celery 3
Corn
Corn-on-the-cob
Small Ears
Medium Ears
Large Ears
Whole Kernel or Cream Style
(ears blanched before cutting corn from cob)


7
9
11

4
Eggplant 4
Greens
Collards
All Other

3
2
Kohlrabi
Whole
Cubes

3
1
Mushrooms
Whole (steamed)
Buttons or Quarters (steamed)
Slices steamed)

5
3 1/2
3
Okra
Small Pods
Large Pods

3
4
Onions
(blanch until center is heated)
Rings

3-7
10-15 seconds
Peas-Edible Pod 1 1/2-3
Peas-Field (blackeye) 2
Peas-Green 1 1/2
Peppers-Sweet
Halves
Strips or Rings

3
2
Potatoes-Irish (New) 3-5
Pumpkin cook
Rutabagas 3
Soybeans-Green 5
Squash-Chayote 2
Squash-Summer 3
Squash-Winter cook
Sweet Potatoes cook
Turnips or Parsnips
Cubes

2
*blanching times are for water blanching unless otherwise indicated.


This document was extracted from "So Easy to Preserve", 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

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