Mamas + Papas: Food Storage and Preservation, Y’all!

Crops have been producing abundantly these days. It’s time to start (or continue) preserving that abundance for the approaching winter months.

At one of our August Mamas + Papas gatherings, Misty Amarena, Education and Outreach Coordinator at Moscow Food Co-op, dished out long-term storage ideas (home canning, pickling, freezing, drying) and shorter-term storage (refrigeration). The basic idea behind all forms of food preservation is either (a) to slow down the activity of disease-causing bacteria or (b) to kill the bacteria altogether. In certain cases, a preservation technique may also destroy enzymes naturally found in a food that cause it to spoil or discolor quickly.

Pros and Cons

1. Freezing:
Pros: Freezing is one of the easiest and least time-consuming methods of food preservation. Most foods retain their natural color, flavor, texture, and nutritional content better when frozen than when other methods of food preservation are used. Remember to keep the freezer temp at or below 0 degrees F to prevent the growth of spoilage organisms and to minimize changes in flavor, texture and nutritive value.
Cons: Maybe you need to invest in a new or larger freezer. This can be costly. Freezing can decrease the desirability of some food textures. Freezing can lead to freezer burned food if certain steps are not followed initially.

2. Canning: Requires boiling the food in the jar to kill all bacteria and seal the jar to prevent any new bacteria from getting in.
Pros: Canned foods do not spoil and can be stored for a long time. You can preserve large quantities of almost anything quickly—sauces, fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, etc. Canned foods can usually be used quickly—just open the jar and heat.
Cons: Canning in the summer can be HOT work. The act of boiling food generally changes its taste, texture and nutritional content.

3. Drying:
Pros: Jerky. Fruit leather. Yummy, packable snacks. Enough said?
Cons: Time investment. Possible investment in a food dehydrator. Change in food texture.

4. Pickling: Pickling uses the preservative qualities of salt combined with the preservative qualities of acid, such as acetic acid (vinegar). Acid environments inhibit bacteria
Pros: It’s delicious and can energize a familiar taste.
Cons: Patience. Many pickled foods need time (from one week to 3 weeks) to ferment and cure properly. It may also be too strong of a flavor for little ones (but maybe not if you start early enough).

Remember: The level of acidity in a pickled product is as important to its safety as it is to taste and texture.
a. Do not alter vinegar, food, or water proportions in a recipe or use a vinegar with unknown acidity.
b. Use only recipes with tested proportions of ingredients.
c. There must be a minimum, uniform level of acid throughout the mixed product to prevent the growth of botulinum bacteria.

(Some) Resources

  • Ball Complete Book for Home Preserving by Judi Kingry and Lauren Devine
  • Stocking Up by Carol Hupping
  • The Artisan Market: Cure your own bacon, make the perfect chutney and other delicious secrets by Emma MacDonald Brewing
  • Made Easy: A Step by Step Guide to Making Beer at Home by Joe and Dennis Fisher
  • Fresh and Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to make fermented carrots, Kraut and Kimchi by Julie O’Brien and Richard J. Climenhage
  • Produce Storage Guide: Keep Your Produce Fresher, Longer
  • Download Produce Storage Guide on Moscow Food Co-op’s website
  • Explore the Co-op’s Beet Box for some tasty recipes (including Easy Fridge Pickles)

Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming Mamas + Papas Events

September 19 Intro to Canning (with Demo)
Presenter: Ball, Discover You Can Program
Moscow Farmer’s Market, 10 - 10:30 am, Main Street Between 3rd and 6th Streets

September 2015 Mamas + Papas Topics:

September 7: Holiday—No Meeting
September 14: Prepping For Fall: The Transitional Wardrobe
September 21: School Lunches and Snacks: Moscow Food Co-op Demo, Misty Amarena
September 28: Open Discussion. Family Check-in. Bring questions/topics that you would like to discuss

When: Mondays, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Where: Uma Center (414 S Jefferson St, Moscow—corner of 5th and Jefferson)
Who: YOU! All interested participants are encouraged to attend!

Each Mamas and Papas Group Meeting features a speaker on a topic that is relevant to expectant parents or parents of children up to two years of age. Childcare assistance will be provided by Co-op volunteers during the meeting. The Co-op Outreach Team will be there with refreshments and samples. We hope to see you in September!