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Store Your Crops

Scales

When making preserves we do not need to be absolutely precise, a small variation on quantities is not such a big problem, but a scale can be very helpful, especially for recipes that require more ingredients that need to be measured.

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Pans

Traditional preserving pans have sloping sides, a lip for pouring and a carrying handle. These will make it easier to use but are not essential qualities. The pan that you should use for preserving must have the following characteristics:

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Jams and Jellies

Jams are a good way of storing surplus fruits for the winter. The preservation works by a combination of the boiling stage and the high sugar content of the product. Boiling kills micro-organisms and de-activates enzymes and sugar inhibits the growth of bacteria that may contaminate the jam later. You can also make low sugar jam but it will be runnier and will need to be kept in the fridge and will not store for so long as the one with a higher level of sugar.

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Relishes, Ketchups and Sauces

In general, relishes are very similar to chutneys except they are usually more finely textured and may resemble a chunky sauce. Ketchups and sauces are often sieved to obtain a creamy, lump-free consistency. The difference between ketchups and sauces is that ketchups have one predominant flavor like tomato or mushroom or anything you like while sauces have a larger number of ingredients.

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Fruit butter and cheeses

Fruit butters are made by cooking fruits until they become a paste. Fruit butters have lower sugar content than jam and thicken without the need for pectin. Fruit cheeses are basically butters that have been cooked further until they are of a more solid consistency and can be sliced.

Fruit butters and cheeses can be frozen but is more commonly to jar them up just like jams. They will keep for few months but should e refrigerated after opening. Many improve in flavor if left for few weeks before eating. Most common fruits used for butters or cheeses are: apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, grapes and blackcurrants. You can also add spices to them if you like. You can use cinnamon, ginger or allspices. Some fruits will need a little water, juice or cider added whilst cooking.

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Fermenting

Fermenting is the alcohol produced during fermentation that inhibits the growth of micro-organisms which could spoil the product, allowing us to store brewed drinks for many years. These include home-made ciders, wines and beers. The general idea to obtain these drinks is that yeasts grow and multiply using sugar and produce alcohol as a result. Cleanliness is vital at all stages to prevent fungi and other micro-organisms from spoiling the end product. All equipment and bottles must be sterilized by boiling or by washing with chemical sterilizing solution before use.

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Pickles and Chutneys

There is a difference between pickles and chutneys. Pickles are pieces of vegetables or fruit stored in vinegar. Chutneys are mixtures of chopped vegetables and fruits cooked in vinegar. In both cases it is the acid conditions produced by the vinegar which inhibit the actions of spoiling micro-organisms.

Most pickles and chutneys improve their flavor if left to mature for a few months, and will keep for several years if unopened. If you open a jar of pickles or chutney keep it in the fridge after you open it.

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Bottling

Bottling or canning, using glass jars is a method of storing that is not only highly used but it is also an attractive way of storing. What can look better than rows of glass jars in the kitchen, full of brightly colored and good-looking preserved fruits and vegetables?

The method consists in heating to a high-enough temperature for a certain time the food in the bottles or jars, to kill the bacteria, yeasts and fungi and to stop enzyme activity. As by this method the jars are sealed at this high temperature there should be no reintroduction of spoiling micro-organisms.

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Salting

For many centuries preserving food by salting was an important method of storing food. Salting it is best known for preserving meat and fish but can be used on some vegetables also. But you must know that table salt is not suitable for preservation due to the extra chemicals it contains. For preserving food by salting you must use sea salt or rock salt that has no additives.

As a general rule of preservation food by salting you will need roughly 1 kg of salt per 3 kg of vegetables. Salting vegetables for preservation consists in layering them with salt in glass jars or earthenware pots, starting and ending with a layer of salt.

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Vacuum-Packing

Keeping produce in a vacuum can prolong the storage time considerably. This is happening because most of the airborne contaminants such as fungal spores or bacteria will have been extracted along with the air and the exclusion of air eliminates food degradation by oxidation. The vacuum-packing method has been used …

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