By Whitney Donohue
Food preservation is seeing an upsurge in today’s society. Even in our small valley, 13 people completed a Master Food Preservation class held at the UNR Extension office held last month. In the past couple of years many blogs and websites devoted solely to different methods of preservation have appeared, while canning and other preservation supplies are now easily found at a variety of different stores.
Part of this resurgence seems to be because people are more concerned about preservatives and other chemicals found in commercial preserved foods, and part of it seems to be that in the long run it actually costs less for the consumer. In some ways, preserving is a return to our heritage, but with the ability to modernize the flavors for today’s tastes.
On Saturday, August 13, Ball® Canning and Canning Across America are co-sponsoring a nationwide canning event called Can It Forward. Millions of canners across America will join together in a variety of different ways to teach and learn about the basics of canning.
One of the ways to participate is to hold a home canning party. Another way to participate is watch live-streaming web tv of the Can It Forward events being held at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, or if you happen to be in the Seattle area, you can participate in person.
To host your own home canning party, select a spot with a working stove and plenty of counter space. Spread the word by inviting your friends and family (and me, of course!), and select a recipe. I suggest trying Santa Barbara Master Food Preservationist Cindy Shipp’s recipe below.
Water-bath canning is the easiest method for beginners. This method involves preserving high acid foods such as most fruits, tomatoes, and pickles. The acid blunts the growth of enzymes, bacteria, mold, and yeast. Processing the jars in a hot water bath forces the air out and creates a vacuum inside the jar.
There are many ways to get the fruits and vegetables that you want to preserve. You can grow your own, as many people in the valley do. Locally we have several CSA farms and the Moapa Valley High School Ag Farm, which sells produce at a kiosk at the front of the farm.
Bountiful Baskets often offers a variety of fruits and vegetables by the case as an add-on to the weekly basket. Bountiful Baskets has started adding more organic options for the cases available for add-ons. For more info on Bountiful Baskets, check out http://www.bountifulbaskets.org.
You can also order produce by the case from Lin’s Marketplace. For more info on ordering produce in bulk from Lin’s, you may speak to the Produce Merchant, Chrissy Christensen, or the Assistant Store Manager, Jeff Phillips.
For more information on hosting your own canning party, visit the Ball® Canning website at http://www.freshpreserving.com/community/events/can-it-forward/host-a-party.aspx or Canning Across America at http://www.canningacrossamerica.com/.
Tomato and Roasted Pepper Chutney
Recipe by Cindy Shipp
Reprinted with permission
To peel tomatoes, mark an “X” at either end of the tomato and blanch in boiling water for 45-60 seconds. Immediately transfer to ice water and the peels will easily slip off.
- 1 Orange Bell Pepper
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, blanched in water and peeled
- 2 onions coarsely chopped
- 2 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 cups white vinegar
Preheat oven to 400°F; place the peppers on a baking sheet and cook for about 25-30 minutes until they begin to char slightly. Remove from oven, place in plastic bag, and leave to cool.
Remove the pepper stems, skins, and seeds, then coarsely chop the tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Add all to a food processor and pulse briefly, until uniformly chopped.
Transfer to dutch oven or stainless steel saucepan with the sugar and vinegar. Cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 1 hour stirring until the mixture thickens and has a sticky consistency.
Sterilize 6 half pint jars. Ladle mixture into jars, remove air bubbles, refill if needed to 1/2” headspace. Clean rims of jars, add hot lids and rings. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes at a full boil.
This recipe is great with meats and chicken and is amazingly good on a bagel with cream cheese for a more savory breakfast. You could also pour over cream cheese block and serve with crackers for a great appetizer.