The Edmond Sun

Food

August 13, 2012

Tips to safely can and freeze fruits, veggies

STILLWATER — Gardeners from around the state are enjoying the fruits of their labor as they consume the various fruits and vegetables they have grown in their gardens or on their fruit trees. Those who do not garden have probably found a bounty of offerings at their local farmers markets.

What do you do when you have an overabundance of fresh fruits and vegetables? Depending on the type of produce, you have the option of canning or freezing to help preserve this bounty, said Barbara Brown, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension food specialist.

“Canning and freezing both are excellent ways to prolong the freshness of just-picked fruits and vegetables. If done correctly, you can savor the flavor all year long,” Brown said.

Blanch vegetables before freezing them. This is the process of heating or scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short amount of time to slow or stop enzymatic action that reduces flavor, color and texture.

In addition, blanching removes dirt and organisms from the surface of vegetables and helps slow down vitamin loss. It also softens vegetables, making them easier to pack in freezer containers.

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.

Blanching times for vegetables commonly grown in Oklahoma can be found on the website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation at www.uga.edu/nchfp/index.html. Water blanching is the most common method for blanching home frozen vegetables. Tools needed include a wire blanching basket and a large kettle with a fitted lid.

Use one gallon of boiling water for each pound of prepared vegetables. Place the vegetables in the wire basket, lower it into the boiling water and begin blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil, usually within one minute. Brown said if the water takes longer than one minute to return to a boil you are using too many vegetables for the amount of water.

“Once you’ve blanched the vegetables, quickly and thoroughly cool them to stop the cooking process. To cool, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water, 60 F or below,” she said. “Change the 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. Overcooked vegetables lose flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.”

Make sure to completely drain the vegetables as well. Inadequate draining before freezing, slow freezing or temperature fluctuations above zero also can affect the quality, texture and appearance of your vegetables.

Brown said it is important to start with high quality fresh food at optimum maturity and freshness because frozen food is only as good at the quality with which you start.

“Keep in mind that freezing doesn’t kill all bacteria, yeasts and molds in food, but it does keep them from rapidly multiplying when food remains at zero or less,” she said. “However, surviving organisms can multiply when foods are thawed.”

When canning foods always follow directions from a reliable source dated 1988 or later and be careful not to over pack jars as this can cause inadequate processing and result in unsafe food. Vegetables must be processed in a pressure canner for the required USDA processing time unless they are pickled according to a tested recipe and process schedule. Pickled foods such as cucumber pickles or pickled okra can be safely processed in a boiling water canner when directions are carefully followed.

One step that is important for safety when pressure canning, but sometimes skipped, is to allow steam to escape for 10 minutes before closing the valve or putting the weight on the vent of the pressure cooker. This allows the inside temperature to correspond to that of the pressure gauge.

If you discover an unsealed jar within 24 hours after canning, the food can safely be re-canned but the quality will be lowered. Remove the lid to check the rim of the jar for any nicks and change the jar if needed. Add a new, treated lid and reprocess using the original processing time.

“Properly canned food will retain optimum eating quality several months when stored in a cool, dry place,” Brown said.

1
Text Only
Food
  • Tips for summer grilling safety

    When it comes to summer fun, one thing many families enjoy is cooking on the grill. Whether it is charcoal or gas, there is something that definitely says summer when grilling.

    July 28, 2014

  • Beaujolais: The Greatest Secret in Wine

    One hundred years ago, the Wine Society, a wine club in London, offered its members a Beaujolais from the appellation of Moulin à Vent for $29 per case. It offered cases of Burgundy from the appellations of Beaune and Pommard for around $36 each.

    July 28, 2014

  • Shopping smarter for family necessities can help the environment

    There’s a growing trend among consumers to make choices reflecting the goals and values that matter to them most.  In fact, two out of five people say they’re more inspired to try a natural product that does something good for themselves, their family and the planet, according to a recent study conducted by Toluna for natural products brand Tom’s of Maine.

    July 21, 2014

  • Back to school lunch Build a better bag

    Brown bag lunches and back to school go hand in hand. As you’re gearing up for the start of a new school year, it’s the perfect time to stock the pantry with healthy sack lunch options and after school snacks, too.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Kids Cook Simple ways canned foods get children cooking

    When it comes to teaching children about healthy eating habits, there’s no better classroom than the kitchen.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls The Canebrake offers summer recipe for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls

    The Canebrake, a destination hotel and spa in Wagoner, is offering the following recipe from its restaurant for Garden Vegetable Spring Rolls with Avocado Wasabi Puree.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fruits and Veggies Tips to increase your fruit and vegetable intake

    It’s no secret that the vitamins and minerals found in fruits and vegetables are a key to good health — from building immunity, to decreasing inflammation, to helping you maintain a healthy weight.
    Luckily, there are many ways to ensure you incorporate a sufficient amount of produce in your diet to fuel your day and help you feel great.

    June 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Comic books and thoroughbreds, inspired by wine

    Outside the Bay Area, few wine enthusiasts realize that California’s wine scene is incredibly welcoming.

    June 23, 2014

  • Wines of the West slated for June 7

    Stockyards City presents the fifth annual Wines of the West festival on Saturday. The event takes place from noon to 4 p.m. and features wine tasting in an Old West environment. The stockyards area of Oklahoma City has been active for more than 100 years offering western wear, entertainment and ambience. Stockyards City is on the National Register of Historic Places and still has weekly live cattle auctions.
    Ten wineries will provide samples of a variety of locally produced wines. The wineries participating are: Plain View Winery, Stable Ridge Winery, Wood & Waters, Oak Hills Winery, The Range Winery, Whirlwind Winery, Summerside Winery, Canadian River Winery, Base Vines and Cattle and Wakefield Winery. Tasting will be available as visitors browse retail shops in Stockyards City. Food vendors will be set up in the street for convenience.

    June 3, 2014

  • Wine tasting event raises awareness about Y’s international programs

    The YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City will present its eighth annual international wine taste event, A Taste Of Culture, at Café do Brazil on Sunday. The event helps raise funds to support the Y’s international partnerships with YMCAs in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; the Czech Republic; Valparaiso, Chile; the Mexican Federation of Ys; and the Sioux Indians

    June 2, 2014