Handling Canned Vegetables

Checking Quality

1. Reject damaged cans on receipt.

Puffed or swollen cans indicate spoilage. Small dents may be harmless, but large dents may mean the can's protective lining has been damaged. Avoid rusted or leaking cans.

2. Know the drained weight.

This varies with different grades of different vegetables and should be specified when ordering.Typical drained weights are 60 to 65 percent of total contents.You must know this drained weight in order to calculate the number of servings the can contains.

Some canned products, such as tomato sauce and cream-style corn, have no drained weight because the entire contents are served.

3. Check the grade.

Grades are determined by the packers or by federal inspectors.They are based on factors like color, absence of defects, and sieve size (size of individual pieces). Check to make sure you receive the grade you ordered (and paid for). In the United States, the federal grades are

U.S. Grade A or Fancy

U.S. Grade B or Extra Standard (for vegetables) or Choice (for fruits) U.S. Grade C or Standard

Cooking

1. Wipe the top of the can clean before opening. Use a clean can opener.

2. Drain the vegetable and place half the liquid in a cooking pot. Bring it to a boil.This shortens the heating time of the vegetable.

3. Add the vegetable and heat to serving temperature. Do not boil for a long time. Canned vegetables are fully cooked—in fact, usually overcooked.They need reheating only.

Note: Health officials recommend holding vegetables at 190°F/88°C for 10 minutes or more—20 to 30 minutes for nonacid vegetables like beets,green beans, or spinach—to eliminate the danger of botulism. See Chapter 2.

4. Heat as close to serving time as possible. Do not hold in steam table for long periods.

5. Season and flavor with imagination. Canned vegetables require more creativity in preparation than fresh because they can be pretty dreary when served plain.

6. Season the liquid while it is coming to a boil, before you add the vegetable.This will give the flavors of the herbs and spices time to blend.

7. Butter enhances the flavor of most vegetables, and it carries the flavors of the other seasonings you choose to add.

8. Dress up the vegetables with added flavors and garnishes, such as beets or sauerkraut with caraway, limas or green beans with crisp crumbled bacon, corn with sauteed minced onion and green or red pepper, carrots with butter and tarragon or orange juice and brown sugar.

The combinations suggested in the table in Chapter 17 apply to canned vegetables as well as to fresh and frozen.

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