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Friday, August 6, 2010

Freezing - Apples and Pears - Organic

I have been freezing fruits and vegetables that we have grown in our organic garden all Summer. Freezing or Canning is a great way of having wonderful organic foods without all the additives you have in bought goods all year long. A friend of our family has been bringing me organic apples, pears and blackberries this summer. I have been thrilled to get them.

I prefer freezing to canning for a number of reasons. First, it is easier and takes less time than canning. In canning you spend a great deal of time cleaning jars and maintaining the proper lids and canning equipment. Of course, I have all of the necessary equipment to can but presently have my jars stored in an out building. My Mother was a great homemaker and canned much more than I do. My health issues have forced me to find the easy way in doing everything.

I prefer freezing to canning because foods are not as likely to spoil. In canning bacteria may continue to grow. With freezing the bacteria will not grow until thawed out. The downside of freezing is that foods cannot be stored for a long period of time. Depending on the food, from 6 months to one year. Foods may become icy or freezer burned and start turning colors. While the food may still be safe to eat the taste may be affected.

Today, we put 5 quarts of pears and 5 quarts of apples in the freezer. Many people put their apples and pears up in different ways for different purposes. I do not do this. I like to be able to go to the freezer and take out apples and then turn them into whatever I want to use them for whether it is applesauce, apples for pies or cakes. Also, some people use anti-darkening agents and/or sugar. Again I do not. This is the process I follow.

Food Preparation - Organic Apples and Pears

1. Wash, peel, core, wash the fruit again and slice the fruit

2. Blanche the fruit ( Put a small amount of water in a large cooker and cook until it begins to get soft. You will need to keep an eye on it to keep it from scorching. Turn the fruit as needed.)

3. Cool completely

4. Get your containers ready -

I use freezer bags because I can lay the bags flat when they are freezing and can get more food into my freezers. Use thick ones that are made for freezing or double them if you don't have good thick bags. I also label them with the food item (i.e., pears, apples, etc) and the date so I know when the food was put into the freezer. That way I can use the items that have been in the freezer the longest. I keep the various items together on the same shelf as it makes a specific food item easier to find.

If you do not want to use freezer bags you may use any type of container that you have. Some people even use canning jars but I rarely do this as I am afraid that a jar might break and make a mess. I have never had this happen but I am very cautious using them.

My Mom used plastic freezer containers because they were reusable from year to year. I personally do not like them because I can't see into them. She put labels on them but she had to move things around a lot to find what she was looking for. She would also use butter dishes or other plastic containers. I like to recycle plastic jars as long as I am not planning on heating them in the microwave. I make my own chicken, beef, and vegetable broth to season foods and they are very handy for that. So literally, almost any container will do.

5. Fill your container leaving room for the food to expand. WORD OF CAUTION: Do not overfill your container. The food will expand and then you will have a busted bag to deal with. To fill the bags I put the empty bag into an Ice Cream container. Any food spillage will go into the container and I have found that my bag stands up better as it helps hold the sides up. .

6. Dry bags and Label with Food item name and the date.

7. Place in freezer so that it will freeze flat then they can be placed on other shelves and will stack neatly.

We have three freezers. We have two upright freezers which is my favorite and one chest type freezer. The chest freezer is difficult because food items will get down in the bottom and never seem to come to the top. This Summer one of our children unplugged the chest type freezer and we had a terrible mess when it was discovered. The good thing is that we cleaned it out completely. I try to keep things organized by putting certain items in there. I may put large turkeys in there. Currently I have my vadalia onions that I put up this summer in there. I plan to put my sweet potatoes in there as well. I use one of my uprights for meats and things I want to get into more frequently.

I hope you can use some of the tips I have listed here. Leave your questions as a comment and I will try to answer.

You may also want to check out my other blog by looking at .

Have a great day and Be Blessed.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My first blog - Commune Cooking

I have debated for months about whether or not to have a topical blog and finally decided on cooking as I enjoy cooking for my family. We live on a commune of sorts. My son and his family, one of my sisters, my Mom and any other family and friends that happen to be staying here at the time. We work together to provide wholesome food for our communal meals. It fun and I experiment on them often.

I am a Southern cook from top to bottom so my recipe's will definitely have a down home flavor to them. The thing is that we have a number of health issues and dietary requirements that have tempered my cooking. I have been cooking gluten free for my sister who believes she is gluten intolerant and is trying to do the blood type diet. Unfortunately, as I have learned many of the substitutes for flour rate high on the Glycemic Index (GI) which is not good for me since I am diabetic. I began by using using white rice flour, lots of starches like tapioca starch, corn starch, and potato starch, etc... These were doing serious damage to my blood sugar and my waist line. So what do you do when you are gluten free folks eating starchy, simple carbohydrates flours when diabetes and blood sugar disorders are so closely linked to celiac disease. High blood pressure and high cholesterol as well as being overweight make it very necessary to adopt a different way of cooking. Today, I am trying to stick with low glycemic flours and grains and nut flours all the while incorporating natural sugar substitutes. Finding and using recipes which would incorporate both low GI and GF has not always been easy. I have had many failures but some successes.

Also, I have all sorts of southern family recipe's that I have accumulated over the years and want to adapt to this new style of cooking so I plan to give the original recipe and the revised low GI, GF substitute. I think many of you might enjoy the recipe's that my family has passed down from one generation to the next.

This Summer we have planted and cultivated our organic garden and have been freezing and canning homegrown vege's and fruits. Everyone has contributed to the process. We have also gone to the Farmer's market and bought locally grown fresh vegetables to put up. To date, we have put up squash, okra, green beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, vadalia onions, sweet potatoes,peaches, blackberries and apples. I have pears ripening in bags now to prepare in the next day or two.

Our organic garden has had some successes and some disappointments. Our squash and cucumbers is the biggest success. They have produced very well this year. We planted lots of tomato plants in hopes of having a great harvest. Unfortunately, they have only provided eating tomatoes and a few packs for the freezer. I have had to go to the Farmer's Market and buy tomatoes for freezing. Next year I am going to move the tomatoes to a different location and make sure that I have properly prepared the soil to bring in a better harvest. Our green beans provided a few packs for the freezer and eating but we didn't see the amount of harvest that we should have gotten. Butter beans were a dismal failure and the okra while healthy has not been a big producer.

My goal has been to fill up our freezer's (we have three) with fruits and vegetables. It is difficult to get organic vegetables without paying an arm and leg for them. Certainly, it is not worth the cost of putting up in the freezer unless we can get a good deal on them. So I usually go to the Farmer's Market once a week when the locals are there for great deals. In the present economy my intent is to pay as little as possible for them. It requires a great deal of work to get our vege's and fruits to the freezing and canning point. Usually about one hour per quart.

We have all enjoyed getting together and peeling apples, snapping green beans, cutting up vegetables., etc. It reminded me of when I was younger and my Mom would set us (there were six children) on the front porch with bushels of green beans, butter beans or corn and set us to work. I think that is one reason they had such large families back then. Oh, that and the lack of birth control.

My hope is that you will enjoy our family and at least enjoy the recipes.

Be Blessed and look forward to many more blogs in the future.

Sharpshooter 77