Fruits and Veggies in your food storage.

I haven’t posted in a few weeks.  Things got crazy here.  First, I tried moving my website to a self-hosted wordpress.org site so I could sell products.  It actually went better than I thought it would, considering my lack of techie skills!  The problem came with pricing.  I got a free 30 days on the hosting and wholesale site. (My husband’s rule is I can do whatever I want as long as I don’t spend any of his money to do it.)  Even one sale by the end of the 30 days would have “proved” to him that this will work, but since I didn’t get a sale I had to transfer everything back to wordpress.com…. I’m still working out the bugs.

Next, my book “The No, I’m Not a Fanatical Ghillie Suit Wearing, Kill a Moose with My Bare Hands Prepper, Book of Realistic Preparedness” came out on kindle and I ran a 5 day free give away launch.  It went great!  774 people downloaded the book and many of them are actually reading it!  If you are one of them, please do me a favor and write a review (hopefully positive).

Then I had a few days getting the paperback version ready to go.  It’s available on Amazon.com for now, and will be available at other outlets within the next few weeks.

And lastly, both my hubby and I have had the flu…sigh… He is winning on duration, but I’m gaining points on severity.  My temperature is hovering around 100 right now, so if I’m rambling, take it for what it is.

This is going to be a short post, and I’m just going to talk about fruits and veggies in your food storage.

Vegetables

Vegetables come from all parts of the plant kingdom. We consider grains, beans, fruits and nuts as separate categories of foods, and lump all the other edible parts of plants as “Vegetables”. This catch-all food group includes leaves (lettuce, spinach, kale); stalks (celery, asparagus), flowers (artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower), young seeds (green peas, lima beans) and roots or tubers (carrots, beets, potatoes.).

Most vegetables have a very high water content and lots of fiber, so they add a lot of bulk to meals without many calories. The colors of vegetables give clues to their vitamin content: darker green vegetables are usually reliable sources of B vitamins, while red and yellow ones are high in vitamins A and C; but all vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, so everyone should eat as wide a variety as possible.

The nutritional content of vegetables is usually highest in those that are eaten fresh-picked and raw, but not always. Some phytochemicals are not released until the vegetable is cooked; for example, tomato sauce and tomato paste are better sources of a cancer-preventing phytochemical, lycopene, than fresh tomatoes. The nutrient content of frozen and canned vegetables is plenty high enough to make them worthwhile additions to your meals.

Fruits

Fruits are the parts of plants that hold the seeds. Many plants rely on animals to carry seeds away from the parent plant, and have evolved with a wide array of ways to attract their helpers. Bright colors, tantalizing aromas and flavors appeal to humans as well as to many other species of mammals, birds and insects.

Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Fruits are bulky foods, with lots of fiber and water so they are filling without contributing a lot of calories.

Fresh, raw fruits usually have the highest nutritional value, but frozen, canned and dried fruits retain plenty of their nutrients as well. Just choose as wide a variety as possible and eat several servings of fruits every day. Eat the peel if it’s edible; vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are often concentrated in or near the skin.

Fruits and Veggies in Food Storage

Since we’re talking about storage, not survival we have a lot of leeway with our fruits and veggies. Basically, there are four ways of preserving produce.

Canning

Canning involves placing fruit and vegetables in airtight containers, typically glass jars, and so prevent bacteria getting to them. Canned goods can be stored on shelves for years, if required. There are two methods, although one requires a specialist machine so may not be practical or cost-efficient for many people. This is the pressure canning method, which enables you to achieve temperatures above boiling point that foods with low acidity require to effectively neutralize the threat of the botulism bacteria remaining active. It requires a pressure canning machine and is the method used to can most vegetables, as they are low in acid. Fruit, being high in acid, does not have the threat of botulism, so can be canned using a simpler method. Just place your fruit in the jar, top with boiling water, leaving an inch or so of space at the top of the jar (to allow space for the fruit to expand), run a spatula around the inside edge to remove any air bubbles, then close with a threaded lid.

Salting

One of the oldest methods of preserving food, salting can be used for meat and fish, as well as sliced vegetables. There are two methods. The first uses a low salt to vegetable ratio (between two and five percent salt per weight of vegetables). This level of salting promotes the growth of the lactic acid bacteria, which in turn inhibits the growth of other bacterial forms that could spoil the food. It also serves to slightly pickle the vegetables. The second method uses a higher percentage of salt (between twenty and twenty-five percent), preserving the freshness of the produce but adding a salty flavor when used, even after the salt has been washed off. Whichever method of salting you use, you need to store the produce in the refrigerator.

Drying

Drying dehydrates the fruit or vegetables, removing all the water along with the bacteria, yeasts and mold that live in the moisture. Besides altering the texture of the food, drying also modifies the taste, typically concentrating it. Dried food has the added benefit of being safe to store as is on your pantry shelf – you don’t need special packaging to keep it in or to keep it in the refrigerator. In some countries, solar drying of food is a part of life, and if you live in an area that receives elevated levels of consistent sunshine, you may be able to dry food that way. More likely however, is drying in an oven. The technique requires low temperature and good air circulation so use the lowest setting and prop the oven door open – this allows the air that the moisture has evaporated into to escape.

Freezing

Freezing fruit and vegetables soon after they are picked serves to ‘lock in’ the flavor and freshness of the produce. Freezing and then thawing a vegetable or fruit is the preserving method that will have a product that most closely resembles the taste of fresh food. You effectively place the food in suspended animation in whatever condition it is in when you freeze it, so always freeze ripe produce, and avoid spoiled specimens. You can freeze the produce in wax-coated cardboard containers, in plastic boxes or jars made with very thick glass. It is recommended that you blanch vegetables you are going to freeze in boiling water for a minute or so beforehand – this limits the activity of enzymes that may spoil the produce if stored over a long time. You need a temperature below freezing point for effective long-term storage, so use the freezer compartment in your refrigerator for food that you will use within a month, as temperatures in these rarely get down to the requisite zero degrees. When thawing food, leave at room temperature until completely thawed, rather than trying to thaw in the oven.

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