Many of us are preparing more foods with whole grains these days. Whole grains require more careful storage than regular all purpose flour. Since whole grains contain the healthy oils in the germ of the grain it is more sensitive to heat, light and moisture. Once they are brought home from the store they should be stored in either the refrigerator or freezer to maintain their freshness.
Whole grains can be purchased as either whole intact grains or whole grain flours and meals. Wheat berries and brown rice are examples of whole intact grains. They last longer than flour because they still have the protective coating of the grain kernel which keeps it from oxidizing as quickly. Just like flours and meals they will keep longer if stored in air tight containers. It is good advice to buy what you can use within 2-3 months.
Since each type of grain varies in fat content the Whole Grains Council has put together a chart to help you with how long they can be stored. Remember to look at dates on the packages to find the freshest whole grains to bring home.
If you are new to using whole grains start by substituting 1/4 to 1/2 of the all purpose flour for a whole grain variety. Enjoy the health benefits of whole grains!
Food Preservation, Nutrition
Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is hard to imagine for some people. If you are feeling adventurous this year you may want to try something new. The cranberry is a very versatile fruit and in season now.
When you are shopping for cranberries, choose full, firm berries that are dark red or red and yellow in color. Cranberries that are soft, shriveled, and have dark spots should be avoided. Store them in the refrigerator when you bring them home from the store. The crisper drawer will help you keep them fresh for 3-4 weeks. You can also freeze the berries until you are ready to use them. Wash the berries just prior to cooking. Discard any shriveled or damaged berries. Cranberries can be eaten raw or cooked. You can also add them to breads and muffins. Plan to stock up now while they are available.
Remember, you can change up a waldorf salad or any other fruit salad with the addition of cranberries.If you want to make your own fresh cranberry sauce this year, follow this recipe from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service.
For sweet cranberry sauce, use two cups cranberries to one cup sugar and one-half cup water. After the cranberries have been sorted and washed, put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar crystals completely. Boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until skins crack. Remove from heat and skim foam. Sauce may either be served hot or allowed to cool before serving.
You also have the option to preserve cranberry sauce to enjoy throughout the year. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a recipe for cranberry sauce. Cranberry Jam is another fun and easy project.
You have so many options to use and enjoy cranberries this season.
Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Holiday ideas
Canning pie filling is a fun way to preserve apples that are abundant right now. Each quart jar will make one 8-9 inch pie.
|Table 1. Apple Pie Filling.
||Quantities of Ingredients Needed For
|Blanched, sliced fresh apples
||3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
|Bottled lemon juice
|Yellow food coloring (optional)
|Table 2. Recommended process time for Apple Pie Filling in a boiling-water canner.
||Process Time at Altitudes of
|Style of Pack
||0 – 1,000 ft
||1,001 – 3,000 ft
||3,001 – 6,000 ft
||Above 6,000 ft
||Pints or Quarts
Use firm, crisp apples. Staymen, Golden Delicious, Rome, and other varieties of similar quality are suitable. If apples lack tartness, use additional ¼ cup of lemon juice for each 6 quarts of sliced apples.
Wash, peel and core apples. Cut apples into slices, ½ inch wide. Place in an anti-darkening solution. I used ½ cup bottled lemon juice to 2 quarts of water.
Remove from antidarkening solution and drain well. Next blanch the fruit by placing small amounts in boiling water. Boil each batch for one minute after the water returns to a boil. Remove the fruit from the blanch water, but keep the hot fruit in a covered bowl or pot while you prepare the Clear Jel mixture.
Combine Clear Jel, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large saucepot with water, apple juice and food coloring. Stir and cook on medium high until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice to the boiling mixture and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Immediately fold in drained apples slices and fill hot jars with hot mixture. Leave 1 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles with a plastic knife. Wipe jar rims.
Put on lid fingertip tight and process immediately in a Boiling Water Bath. Make sure that the water is at least 1 inch above the top of the submerged jars. Use the chart above for processing times according to your altitude.
Food Preservation, recipes
Freezing apple pie is really as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1. Prepare the apples–peel, core, slice. Place in a bowl and cover with water and lemon juice; this prevents browning while you make the crust. When filling the crust, add 1 extra tablespoon of flour or tapioca or 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch. This will help prevent leakage of filling during baking.
2. Prepare the crust, roll and place in pan. Add the top curst but DO NOT cut vent holes. You will do this just before baking.
3. Wrap the finished pie well, or place in large freezer bag.
When you want to use the frozen pie, follow these directions for baking:
1. Cut vent holes in the frozen crust.
2. Put pan on cookie sheet.
3. Bake without thawing at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake an additional 20-30 minutes or until top crust is brown. Enjoy the taste of the freshly baked pie.
Food Preparation, Food Preservation, recipes
Callers often ask if it is possible to freeze eggs.Yes, you can easily freeze eggs for later baking or scrambling. You have the choice to either freeze whole eggs or separate the eggs and freeze yolks and whites by themselves.
Whole eggs inside the shell should not be frozen. If you have an egg freeze accidentally, discard eggs that crack. You can safely use a whole, frozen, uncracked egg. Just store it in the refrigerator until you need it. It may be best to hard cook that egg as the yolk may become thick and syrupy; this change makes it difficult to use in baking.
If you would like to freeze eggs at home, you will need to add either sugar, corn syrup, or salt to the egg yolks or whole eggs. Add 1/2-1 Tbsp. light corn syrup OR 1/2-1 Tbsp. sugar OR 1 tsp. salt to every dozen eggs you freeze. Addition of the salt or sugar prevents the yolks from thickening and allows you to use them in baked products. The end use of the eggs will help you determine which ingredient (salt, corn syrup, or sugar) to add to the eggs.
Blend the mixture gently; avoid whipping air into the mixture. Package the eggs and freeze. Add the previously listed amounts to either whole eggs or egg yolks that have been separated. If you choose to freeze the whites alone, they do not need to have any salt, sugar, or corn syrup added.
Thaw any of these frozen eggs in the refrigerator. Stir or shake them before using. You must use the thawed eggs within 3-5 days.
Food Preservation, Food Safety
If you have winter squash and are wanting to preserve it remember that you can NOT home can pumpkin or winter squash puree. If you want it pureed then you should freeze it. If you want to can it, it must done in a pressure canner and only when cut into 1 inch cubes.
According to the Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist, Department of Foods and Nutrition, home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA’s Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning that remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, “Caution: Do not mash or puree.”
Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH > 4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product.
To process using a hot pack, wash pumpkin or squash and remove the seeds. Cut into 1 inch slices and peel. Cut the flesh into 1 inch cubes. Add to a saucepot of boiling water, boil 2 minutes. Pack the hot cubes into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Fill jar to 1 inch from top with boiling hot cooking liquid. Remove the air bubbles. Wipe jar rims, adjust lids and process.
|Table 1. Recommended process time for Pumpkin and Winter Squash in a dial-gauge pressure canner.
||Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
|Style of Pack
||0 – 2,000 ft
||2,001 – 4,000 ft
||4,001 – 6,000 ft
||6,001 – 8,000 ft
|Table 2. Recommended process time for Pumpkin and Winter Squash in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
||Canner Pressure (PSI) at Altitudes of
|Style of Pack
||0 – 1,000 ft
||Above 1,000 ft
Food Preservation, Food Safety
It seems that we speak to people making fruit spreads all summer long. It starts when rhubarb and strawberries are ripe and continues into the fall. The terminology of fruit spreads can be confusing so here is a simple explanation of the variety of products that can be made from fruit.
- Jelly—possibly the most popular product for home food preservation. Jelly is made from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Jelly is somewhat clear and translucent with a bright color. The sugar in jelly is what preserves it, thus it is an important ingredient. Jelly should form a thick enough jel to “jiggle” when shaken, yet tender enough jel to spread on bread or toast.
- Jam –probably the second most popular product for our callers. Jam is a thick, sweet spread made with the whole fruit. Often the fruit is chopped or crushed. Jam will be spreadable but somewhat thicker than jelly.
- Preserves—these are made from whole fruit or chopped pieces of fruit. The fruit is plump and tender surrounded by somewhat thickened, clear syrup.
- Conserves—have a consistency more like a jam and often include nuts and dried fruits along with the fresh fruit.
- Marmalades—are soft jellies that contain bits or pieces of fruit and fruit peels. Often they are made of citrus fruits.
Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Nutrition
Are you wondering what should be stored in the drawers of your refrigerator? It is important to know how to best use them to keep your produce at top quality for as long as possible!
Refrigerator drawers are designed to help you adjust the humidity level so it can be different from the rest of the refrigerator. Many drawers have a control that allows you to increase or decrease the air flow coming into them. Less air flow means higher humidity. Since different produce require different levels of humidity it allows you to tailor the drawer to the produce inside and it will last longer.
Here are a few tips to store your fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator:
- Vegetables typically like high humidity and fruits like lower humidity.
- Leafy greens like high humidity (85-95%) and cold temperatures(32-40°F). This includes lettuce, spinach, chard, collards, mustard greens and watercress. Bulbs like green onions, leaks and endive should also be stored here.
- Apples, grapes, cherries, apricots, nectarines and other tree fruits like less humidity and cold temperatures (32-35°F).
- Don’t put ripe fruits and veggies in the same crisper drawer since fruits give off ethylene gas. Apple, pears, plums, cantaloupes and peaches are all high-ethylene producers. This can cause green vegetables to turn yellow, lettuce to get rust colored spots, potatoes to sprout and carrots to turn bitter.
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit can be stored in the main part of your refrigerator since they prefer even less humidity.
- Some fruits and vegetables do better outside of the refrigerator. Tomatoes, potatoes and onions prefer a cool, dark, dry place. (65-70°F).
- Wash your fruits and vegetables before eating, not before storing them.
By storing your foods properly you save money since your fruits and vegetables will remain fresh as long as possible!
Food Preservation, Food Safety, Household Equipment
It’s time to think about harvesting vegetables as the gardening season winds down. After you have spent hours choosing seed, planting, weeding, and watering your garden it only makes sense to store the vegetables carefully. You have many options for storing vegetables. Canning, freezing and drying are not your only choices. Many vegetables benefit from moist storage in a cool, dark area. If you are fortunate enough to have basement storage that can be heated without being overheated, you can build shelves and bins for vegetables. A small room that can be insulated from the rest of the basement with shelves and separate ventilation works even better. Plans for such a room are available.
Food Preparation, Food Preservation, Food Safety
It’s that time of year again, more tomatoes than I can possibly use in salads and BLTs. I do like to freeze some whole but it is also nice to have some home preserved tomato sauce too. There are many variations of tomato sauce recipes that are safe, tested, and research based. Some of these recipes must be processed with a pressure canner so be sure to check the recipe before you begin to be sure you have the proper equipment.
There are also recipes for canning tomato juice, “V 8″ style juice, and catsup or other sauces. None of the recipes are very difficult so you can truly enjoy the bounty of your garden all winter long. You can even make a tomato jam if you still have tomatoes left after making all of the other recipes listed above.
Remember we are always glad to answer questions about home food preserving. Give us a call Monday through Friday from 9-11 and 1-4.
Food Preservation, recipes