Week 1 of my Master Food Preserver class was pretty fun. We didn’t get to a ton of food preservation being the first week, but we did start sauerkraut and can up some apples. The major thing we got through was a lot of food safety, which makes sense for week 1. There honestly weren’t too many things that were news to me, but here are some interesting tidbits from the day that you may or may not be aware of.
“Danger zone” is not just a song. It’s also a range of temperatures which are optimal for bacterial growth, and therefore not optimal for food safety. 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Food shouldn’t remain in the danger zone for more than 2-3 hours or it can be unsafe. For me I think my biggest offence against this would be putting a really big pot of something in the fridge. It cools slowly enough that it can remain in the danger zone too long. Spreading food out in shallower dishes would help me to avoid remaining in the danger zone.
We also learned about foods that are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria (and should therefore be avoided by the young, sick, pregnant etc.) I knew almost all of these, but didn’t realize the sprouts were due to bacteria related reasons, and didn’t realize lunch meat was on the list.
– rare ground beef
– unpasteurized apple cider/juice
– uncooked hot dogs/ lunch meat
– alfalfa and bean sprouts
– lox (cold smoked fish)
-raw milk and raw cheese
– soft cheeses (feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort etc.)
– raw eggs
We also talked about basic canning equipment, a bit about the history of canning, and basic canning guidelines. But I could write about that for pages and pages, so I think I’ll work on this as a page of it’s own to eventually bring this blog to a full canning resource. In the meanwhile, refer to the USDA National Center for Home Food Preservation website http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html 🙂
Another fun fact – the cut-off for what is a low acid food is pH 4.6. Anything above this must always be pressure canned. This includes all meats, vegetables, soups and stocks. And I’ll do full pages on these things some day because they are super interesting and important concepts.
Now for the fun part, we started out by getting sauerkraut started. Full recipe to come once it is ready. Yup, I’m going to make you wait.
Shredding the lettuce with a mandolin.
After letting it sit with salt, filling the jars.
We also canned apples. Honestly I wouldn’t normally can apple slices straight up, but it is a good way to learn the concept of canning sliced fruit.
And we did a fun experiment. We canned the apples in something like 16 different liquids, and we’ll taste test them later. I think this is a great idea because I’d never want to test these myself and then open all 16 at once, but there are almost 20 of us, including instructors, so I think it’s a great idea. I’m going to suggest we do it with pickle recipes too on that week. We did water, light syrup, medium syrup, heavy syrup, extra heavy syrup, brown sugar, honey, agave, stevia, splenda, orange juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, grape juice, apple juice… there may be one more I’m forgetting. But yes – what a fun idea!
Well that about sums up the highlights for the day. More next week, mostly about jams and jellies, fruit pie filling, and freezing. Fun fun!!