Fall is harvest time. Local farms, orchards, and kitchen gardens are overflowing with vegetables and fruits. Kitsilano Farmers’ Market runs through October 23. UBC Apple Festival takes place October 15-16. After you’ve picked, or shopped for your grocery list, why not preserve the bounty? Say you grew your own food and you can’t eat it all before it spoils. Maybe you want to save a special type of produce for use throughout the winter. Preservation techniques such as canning and dehydrating enable you to lock in food nutrition at peak levels. The other perks — zero additives, reduced food waste, potential year-round gifts, homesteader cred — add to the appeal. Easy and safe food preservation depends on having the right equipment. Here are the essential items of canning and preservation equipment for the home cook.
An essential piece of gear, a canner preserves food by using boiling water or steam to create an airtight seal inside of a glass jar. There are two types of canners: water bath canners for high-acid produce such as fruits and pressure canners for low acid foods such as vegetables and meats. Canners look like large pots and come with a rack and tongs. They may also include a pressure gauge (for a pressure canner), a funnel, canning jars, and a canning recipe book.
2. Mason jars
They look terrific as flower vases, toothbrush holders, or cocktail glasses, but mason jars were originally created with canning in mind. You can use jars and metal bands over and over. You need to replace the rubber gasket for each jar every time you can. Brands that have stood the test of time include Kerr and Ball.
A source of practical advice as well as inspiration, canning recipe books have the measurements and guidelines you need to safely preserve food. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is a classic.
When you’re dealing with bulk fruit and veg, you need help from a food processor for the slicing, shredding and chopping.
Dehydrating foods is a creative alternative to canning. You can use a dehydrator to make anything from kale chips to apple crumbles for your morning oatmeal, and even dried mushrooms. Foraged varieties such as porcini work best. Use them to enhance soup, pasta, and risotto.
Once you juice your fruit or veg, fresh juice can keep in the fridge for about a week, but after that it loses nutrition. For the longest storage time, can your juice. Acidic juices (from fruits including tomatoes) should be processed in a boiling-water canner. A pressure canner is essential for veg juices. Canned juice keeps well for at least one year.
Last modified: October 12, 2016