Category: Food Storage

How To Pickle – The American Way

How To Pickle The American Way

I’ve still to meet the one person that doesn’t like pickles. Pickles are already deeply rooted into American culture and they seem to be to everyone’s liking. And why not? Not only do they make pretty much everything taste better, but they’re also exquisite on their own. The most common pickle in the U.S. is the cucumber, but you can pickle almost every vegetable imaginable: carrots, beets, green tomatoes, okra etc. And there are alternatives to canning, you can store them in the fridge just as easily. Let’s take a look at the easiest way of making awesome in-house pickles.

Get the veggies ready to pickle.

Wash the vegetables carefully and cut them into the desired shapes or sizes. I personally recommend chopping them into thin slices, so that they are easier to reach for and snack on in case you feel like it. 🙂 Some vegetables will perform extremely well during the pickling process if they have been blanched (briefly boiled in water) previously. Blanching is excellent for green beans, ginger, peppers, okra and Brussels sprouts. But cucumbers, turnips or tomatoes shouldn’t be blanched at all. If you have your heart set on blanching, this is how you do it: in a boiling pot add 16 cups of water per pound of prepared vegetables. After the water reaches boiling point, add the vegetables and cover with the lid. Let them cook for 3 – 5 minutes. Next place the boiled vegetables into a container filled with ice cold water, which you’ll drain afterwards.

slicing

Sort the vegetables.

cucumbers Once you’re done with preparing and blanching (if necessary) the veggies, you can sort them out in 6-pin size (2-cup) canning jars, or same size containers made of heatproof plastic or tempered glass. Make sure the ones you buy come with leads and can be tightly sealed. You can also use cans instead of jar-like containers if you plan on storing the pickles at room temperature.

Flavorings

Adding flavorings comes down to personal taste. There are plenty of recipies around for both dry and fresh flavorings, but if you feel like experimenting, go ahead. The sky’s the limit and you may come up with a million bucks recipe that could make you rich! But for now, here are look at 2 tasty examples for both fresh and dry flavorings:

Fresh flavorings (amount per pint jar): 1 fresh Habanero (or Jalapeno) pepper, 2-4 sprigs sliced or whole Dill, 1/2 whole large clove, sliced Garlic, 2 – 3 inch strips fresh and peeled or 1/2 teaspoon prepared Horseradish, 1 sprig fresh Oregano, 1 tablespoon sliced Shallot. The overall taste of the pickles will be will by spicy and satisfyingly fresh.

flavoring Dry flavorings (amount per pint jar): 1 Bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon Celery seed, 1 – 3 small whole Dried Chile peppers, 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seed, 1/2 teaspoon Dill seed, 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seed, 1/2 teaspoon Pickling spice, 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric. This recipe gives absolutely delicious pickles, and the unique taste is one of my personal favorites.

Making and adding the brine.

The next thing you need to do is to prepare the brine. It’s basically salt water, which will help preserve and add flavor to your pickles. The mixture can be prepared according to personal taste. You can make it sweet, sour or in between. And this is how you do it:

Sweet pickle brine (6 cups): Mix 3 cups of distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 of cups water, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of sea salt in a large saucepan (or similar pot). Once the mixture starts to boil, stir until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Let it boil for 2 – 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Sour Pickle brine (6cups): mix 3 cups of distilled white vinegar (or cider vinegar), 3 of cups water, 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons sea salt and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large saucepan. Once it starts to boil, start stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Boil for 2 – 3 minutes more and remove from the heat.

After you’re done making the brine, all is left is to fill the jars or cans with the concoction. Pour the brine to within half-a-inch if the rim of the jar or can, so that the vegetables are completely immersed in it. If you’re making fridge pickles and using jars, you should refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving (turnips and okra require a minimum of 1 week). In this case, the pickles will last in the fridge before spoiling for about 1 month. If you’re planning on storing canned pickles at roomed temperature, they will last for about a year if the optimum conditions are met: preparing the pickles according to the process, respecting the terms and conditions of storage and seal tightly each can.

pickling in jar

Pickling your own vegetables is fun and easy to do. And it’s a skill you might want to get accustomed to, because the way the economy is heading, pickles could become a rare good rather than a commodity. So making your own it’ll be the only available option.

How To Preserve And Store Fresh Apples

How To Preserve And Store Fresh Apples

I know what you might be thinking: rather have the apples fresh then preserved, you’ll just pick them fresh off the shelves! But “fresh” is not exactly what you get off the shelves, because according to Martin Lindstrom (marketing visionary and author), the shelf life in the U.S. of the average apple is around 14 months! Shocking, I know. But luckily there are DIY alternatives for preserving and storing fruit, far more Eco-friendly and healthy then what you find at your local supermarket. The methods are easy and cheap to apply, and you’ll definitely notice a great difference in flavor, texture, and nutriments. Apart from natural fibers and sugar, apples are also a great source of polyphenols (antioxidants that reduce cancer risk and aid muscular recovery after fatigue). The longer an apple is stored, the more antioxidants it loses. But storing the right way will help preserve as many of them as possible.

Store and preserve apples for eating

Store and preserve apples for juicing / cider making

It all comes down to factors like apple variety and the time of ripening, but in general, apples juicing or cider making can be stored for a period of 2 – 4 weeks. According to Andre Lea (apple juice and cider author), apples that have been stored for longer than necessary periods of time are not too generous when it comes to providing natural juices. They rather produce an apple pulp that is hard to crush and very succulent. This is because of the soluble pectin produced by the apples during storage time, which gets broken down by enzymes during crushing. For juicing, the fresher the apple, the better it is. But in the case of cider making, things are different: the apples are suitable if they’re ripe and ready; as soon as the thumb pushes easily into the fruit, then you have prime cider making material. Even after being picked, the apples continue the conversion of starch into sugar, and it’s important that the process is complete before fermentation.

• check the variety of the apples you’re using and the ripening time to make sure the apples will do well during the storage period

• make sure to exclude rotten or bruised apples before conserving, as you risk damaging the whole batch (the origin of old saying goes: “one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch!”)

• make sure the storage area is cool and dry; an outhouse is preferable, but if you don’t have one, a small storage space will do just fine

• cover the floor in clean straw

• set the apples in mounds; Lea suggests that the ideal mounds are 2 ½ – 3 ft deep

• check the mounds periodically and remove every apple that shows the slightest of mold or rot (make sure to check every single apple thoroughly)

• the recommended storing period is of 2 – 4 weeks

• right before juicing make sure to wash the apple batches with clean, cold water

• before juicing check again for signs of mold or rot and discard the affected apples

Store and preserve apples for eating

If you’re planning on storing apple for consumption, you must be very aware of the variety of apples you plan on using. Some apples are perfect for storing and do very well in such conditions, while others don’t last for very long, no matter how good the preservation process is. The Arkansas Black does extremely well in storage, it’s perfect for baking but a bit too hard for apple sauce making. The Fuji is just as good for storing (not very pretentious), gives the best apple sauce and it’s perfect for eating raw as well. On the other hand, varieties like the Honeycrisp, the Sweet Tango, the Jonathan or the Cameo do poorly under storage conditions and are preferable for raw consumption or cooking only while fresh.

• check on the variety and the ripening time of your apples to determine their exact storing period and whether they’ll do well in storage conditions

• it’s preferable to pick the apples for eating directly from the tree while they’re slightly under-ripe because the fruit will continue to ripen even after being picked; keep in mind that on large trees apples while ripen over the course of a month, so you might need to pick several times from the same tree

• the apples require gentle handling, as not to get bruised or damaged in any way

• inspect them carefully, and remove any apples that seem to be spoiled or damaged

• make sure your storage space is ideally cool (not frozen!), dark and moist; a cellar or a shed would be perfect for such an endeavor

• store your apples carefully on wooden racks; you can improvise the racks or simply buy purposely made apple racks

• gently place the apples on the rack, one at the time and make sure to leave space between each once

There are alternatives for those of you out there who don’t have the commodity of a large storage space. You can preserve your apples in the refrigerator (or an equally chill place) over winter using this simple method:

• ensure all the apple are fresh and undamaged

• wrap each apple individually in a paper then store in a plastic bag tightly sealed; the paper will absorb moisture and prevent the apples from rotting, while the plastic bag will prevent them from dying out

• sort them by size, as bigger apples tend to spoil faster; this way you can make sure the bigger ones get eaten first

• store them in the fridge (or in an equally cool place), at about 35° – 40° F

wrap each apple individually

Follow these tips exactly and you’ll get great results. If money can’t buy “fresh” anymore, it’s up to you to make “fresh”.

by My Family Survival Plan

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How To Preserve And Store Fresh Apples
Graphic – www.myfamilysurvivalplan.com. Image – Pexels (PD)

6 Foods To Store For Your Survival

6 Foods To Store For Your Survival

Whether it’s an incoming natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake or wildfire) or warfare, it makes little difference, as the end result will be an imminent disaster. And in the case of such a scenario, you’re going to need to survive. Even if everything will change around, your need-to-feed won’t. And food will no longer be the commodity we got used to, it’ll be a scarce and necessary energy source. To better your chances you’ll need to stock provisions and fast, while they’re available and easily obtainable.

When considering what foods work best for survival purposes, you’ll need to take into consideration calorie count, ease of preparation, shelf-life, weight and even cost. Don’t go spending like crazy, search for alternate sources, but don’t take too long. And consider other products than cans; they’re great for surviving and will last long enough, but if you have to travel on foot, canned food will become really tiring really fast. Now let me show you out of my personal experience what are the best foods to put aside for “rainy days”.

Jerky

jerky Jerky’s dried meat. It’s tasty, rich and protein and you can make it out of beef, turkey etc. It’s easy to store and it’s available in either small packages (at your local market or store) or you can buy it directly in bulk and have it delivered to you directly. The processed meat goes to in order to create jerky is basically drying. In many primitive tribes around the world it’s still being prepared through smoking or drying in the sun.

Dried beans

Dried beansWhether we’re talking black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, peas or pretty much any other assortment of beans possible, they’re all great for storing, as they’re fairly rich in protein and vitamins/minerals. Dried beans are the best kind for survival purposes, as they come in larger packages then canned beans, but still weigh less, making them easier to carry in case you find yourself moving from one place to another. When it comes storing time, they’re not pretentious at all; they’ll keep just as well on the shelf, in your storage space or pretty much any place that’s not extremely hot. And preparing them requires no effort at all: just add water and let them soak.

Sea vegetables (powdered / pill form)

Sea vegetables It’s an item that’s becoming more and more available in stores with each passing day, due to its growing popularity. And with good reason: it’s rich in nutrients and vitamins, boost healing and tissue repair and usually have antibacterial and antifungal properties. These algae are a great source of food, being the most balanced source of vitamins and nutrients you can find. So when choosing the powdered or pill form, make sure you chose a product with a long enough shelf life, so it can be stocked for long periods of time.

Bulk Seeds and Nuts

Bulk Seeds and Nuts Many products fit this profile: almonds, nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds even pistachio (even though it’s a bit expensive). All of these are oily, which makes them rich in fatty acids, but not only that. They also contain protein (not the best protein source though), minerals and vitamins. I don’t recommend purchasing salted bulk seeds or nuts, as the extra salt will increase exponentially thirst; and you don’t want to go through your water reserves too fast in case of a survival scenario.

Brown Rice

Brown riceIt’s dry and non-perishable, and has an excellent shelf-life. It’s an excellent food source, rich in calories and packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. You can easily cook it in boiling water for about 30 minutes – 1hour; once it’s fully expanded is done and ready for eating. But if you plan on saving energy, you can simply add it to warm water too, but it can take as much as 2 days to expand.

Canned Tuna

Canned tunaThis tiny fish is beneficial for your health, rich in omega 3 fats and protein. You can either cook it or eat it straight from the can. An average tuna can contains approximately 111 calories. It’s advised to eat the tuna upon opening the can, as the leftovers won’t last (not even refrigerated) for more than 3 days. The omega 3 fats are excellent in reducing the chances of heart attacks, which for someone who is facing hardships and struggling to survive day by day, could be very useful.

There are plenty of other products to consider, even though they’re not exactly “survival material”. It’s good to have lying around peanut butter for example, as it’s packed with fatty acids, iron, and copper. Coffee or caffeine based products are more than welcome in stressful situations and will give you that necessary kick-start in the morning. As for the kids, they’ll be thrilled and will get a major psychological boost from getting a candy bar or chocolate.

There’s still time. Think ahead, try and foresee any outcome possible and start filling up on the provisions that best suit your needs. Leave nothing to chance, get ready for what’s coming.