Books Containers and Equipment

Food Preservation Books: Stocking Up III: The All-New Edition of America's Qassic Preserving Guide, by Carol Hupping, covers canning, drying, freezing, root cellaring, plus preserving meat and dairy products. A similar, good, big, conservative, encyclopedic book on food preserving is Putting Food By, by Ruth Hertzberg, Beatrice Vaughan, and Janet Greene; it also covers making sausage, cheese, lard, and grits. The Busy Person's Guide to Preserving Food by Janet Bachand Chadwick (1982) and The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W Constenbader would also be helpful. For commercial level postharvest technology, see the Wiley Encyclopedia of Food Science and Technology (4 vols., John Wiley & Sons, NY, 2000).

NOTE: The USDA says be careful of any canning recipes published before 1990! Before then, all canning recipes were based on research completed in 1942, but USDA studies completed in 1990found numerous errors in the old research. equipment: If you are preserving foods gathered from your garden, orchard, and home butchering, you are periodically faced with preserving large amounts of the same thing—a mountain of apples, tomatoes, peaches, beans, etc. There are gadgets for sale that can make almost any food preserving process easier: cherry pitters, bean splitters, pear corers. And then there are the larger slicing, dicing, squeezing, and juicing types of machines. A "food mill" purees food and can also separate pulp and liquid; it's good for making sauces, fruit butters, and leathers. An electric blender or food processor is great for making smooth-textured sauces and spreads, and for chopping finely These are all wonderful if you can afford them, but are not absolutely necessary if you can't. Everybody can afford some gadgets, though, even a humble one like a paring knife! A kitchen scale that weighs amounts up to 5 lb. is nice for making old-time recipes given in pounds. For heavier weights, use your bathroom scale.

C. F Resources offers all kinds of food preservation stuff: vegetable strainers and juicers; canning funnels; a wide choice of pressure canners; American Harvest dehydrator; gamma seal lid to go on grain/bean storage buckets; opener for plastic pails; pasta makers; sprouting trays; grain grinders; 1-lb. dry yeast packages; and much more. Free catalog: 719-962-3228; www.cfamilyresources.com.

Over the years you'll find ways to acquire such gadgets. They save you time and energy and make food preserving more fun. Make sure you have a special place to keep directions for use, parts ordering info, and warranties—an envelope in a special drawer, maybe, or a photo-type album kept with your cookbooks.

Places to Buy Containers

Basco, 2595 Palmer Ave., University Park, IL 60466; 800-776-3786; www.bascousa.com; food and water storage containers and seals. Container Store, Melvin Selcer, 314 S. Main, PO Box 263,

Agra, OK 74824; 918-375-2601. DrumcoAVaterTanks.com, PO Box 340, Windsor, CA 95492; 901-396-6484; 877-655-1100; [email protected] tanks.com; www.watertanks.com. Major Surplus & Survival, 435 W Alondra Blvd., Gar-dena, CA 90248; 800-441-8855; offers gamma seal lids, etc.

NITRO-PAK Preparedness Center, 475 W 900 S„ Heber

City, UT 84032; 800-866-4876. The Wheat Bin, 620-345-2611, offers 5-gal. buckets,

$3.65, or 6-gal. buckets, $4. Using Saved Containers: Back when I first wrote this book, public recycling was barely getting started. Back then thrifty housewives saved things like containers and found good uses for them at home. That principle can still apply.

NOTE: Polyvinyl plastic may cause cancer, so do not use plastic garbage cans, wastebaskets, or garbage bags that are not "food-grade" to hold food.

Cans. The 46-oz. juice cans are good lard holders. You can just fit a baggie over the top to make a fairly tight cover before putting it away in the freezer. Or put the right size "food-safe" baggie inside to line the can and fill it with liquid or food. Then tie, or wire shut, the baggie at the top and use it as a freezer container. One-gallon cans are good lard containers, too, and good grain holders to feed the chickens. Punch a few little holes in the bottom of your small cans, and you can start plants in them indoors. Cans make the best plant pots I know—except for peat pots, which aren't reusable or as sturdy, and you have to buy them. Glass. Any gallon jar (glass or plastic) is good for many things—holding milk, pickling, anything you need a "crock" for. Widemouthed jars can be used as drinking glasses, or to hold seeds, crayons, Scrabble letters, or other odd things. In the summer, the children need jars with holes punched in the lid for grasshoppers, spiders, and so on. Small jars can hold dried herbs and spices, dried jerky, dried fruits, and crackers.

Paper. I wouldn't store (or eat off, or wipe with) white paper, because much white paper is bleached and has traces of carcinogenic dioxins in it. But brown paper bags are healthy to store in, as long as the food is dry and you don't heat the bag.

NOTE: Don't ever put a paper bag in a microwave or regular oven though, because bad chemicals will leach out of the paper when it gets hot.

Found Toys. There are 3 places in my kitchen where children are especially welcome. One is the box that holds their toys, coloring books, and so on. The second is the special drawer where I keep my collection of lids, which double as toys. They think of their own games to play with the lids, and the possibilities are practically infinite. Toddlers love the clunky bright metals, especially the doughnut-shaped canning screw-tops. Bigger children make up matching games. The woodbox is their other favorite kitchen toy box. All kinds of forts, houses, barns, highways, railroads, and towers go up on my kitchen floor. They all end up in the stove, of course, but then the children are very willing to haul in more wood for me.

Continue reading here: Drying

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