THE ART OF FOOD PRESERVING  
   
 
Creating tasty California-Grown preserved foods is a culinary art form. It is a fun way to ensure you have California-Grown in your pantry all year long. It is also a way to have complete assurance in the quality of your preserves. You know what's in it and where it came from.

Below are some basic preserving instructions, recipes and methods for a few of the popular produce items found in bulk at the certified farmers' markets. For more information and classes on canning and preserving fruits and vegetables contact the Master Food Preservers at: http://cesacramento.ucdavis.edu/Master_Food_Preservers/
 
Canning Peaches and Nectarines

Source: HP Book "Canning", by Sue & Bill Dreming, 1983

Varieties best for canning:Varieties best for canning: Cling; any that are ripe. Freestone: Elberta, Golden Jubilee, Jerseyland, Keystone, Red Top, Sentinel, Suncrest and many others.

Selection: Use fairly firm, tree-ripened peaches. Skin should be yellow or creamy yellow with some red blush. Avoid very firm or hard peaches with a greenish skin. These are immature and will not ripen. Do not use soft overripe fruit. Peaches that are very tender and juicy do not hold their shape when canned. They are best eaten fresh.

Yield: 2 to 2 ½ pounds (6 to 8 medium) = 1 lug (20 pounds) = 7 to 10 quarts.

Canning Method: Cold pack or hot pack in light or medium syrup or in their own juice. Process in a boiling-water bath.

Preparation: Wash pint, 1½ pint or quart jars in hot soapy water; rinse. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as manufacturer directs. Prepare enough syrup for all peaches to be canned. Wash peaches. Drop 4 or 5 peaches at a time in gently boiling water, 30 seconds. Plunge into cold water; slip off skins. Cut peaches in half, remove stones. Use a spoon to scrape reddish flesh from cavity of peach; stone residue darkens with canning. Slice peach halves, if desired. Treat with an antioxidant to prevent darkening. Lift fruit out of solution; rinse.

Cold Pack: Pack peach halves, cut-side down, in overlapping layers or, pack slices into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving ½ inch headspace. Pour boiling syrup over peaches to cover. Release trapped air. Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids, place in canner. Process in a hot-water bath for specified time.

Hot Pack: Heat peach halves or slices in a single layer in syrup until heated through, about 3 minutes. Pack hot peach halves, cut-side down, in loose overlapping layers into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add boiling syrup to cover. Release trapped air. Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids, place in canner. Process in a boiling water-bath for recommended time.

Hot pack in own juice: Combine 4 quarts peach halves or slices, 1½ cups sugar and ¼ cup water in a large pot. Place over low heat. Shake pot occasionally until all peaches are heated through and juice forms. Stir gently, if necessary. Pack hot fruit into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add boiling juice from pan to cover. Release trapped air. Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids, place in canner. Process in a boiling-water bath at 200-210 °F.

 
Cold Pack:
Pints
25 minutes
1½ Pints or Quarts
30 minutes
Hot Pack:
Pints
20 minutes
1½ Pints or Quarts
25 minutes
Canning Nectarines

 

Selection: Choose, plump, firm fruit that is yellow-orange with patches of red. Do not use hard or shriveled fruit or those with bruised or broken skins.

Yield: 2 to 2½ pounds ( 6 to 8 medium)= 1 quart; 1 lug (20 pounds) = 7 to 10 quarts.

Canning methods: Cold pack or hot pack in light or medium syrup. Process in a boiling-water bath.

Preparation: Wash pint, 1½ pint or quart jars in hot soapy water; rinse. Keep hot until needed. Prepare lids as directed by the manufacturer. Prepare enough light or medium syrup for all nectarines to be canned. If fruit is fully ripe and very juicy, do not peel. To peel less-ripe fruit, drop into boiling water, 30 seconds. Lift out fruit; plunge in cold water. Slip off skins. Cut nectarines in half; remove pits. Leave in halves or slice. Treat with an antioxidant to prevent darkening. Lift fruit out of solution; rinse.

Cold Pack: Pack nectarine halves or slices into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add boiling syrup to cover. Release trapped air. Wipe rim of jar with a clean damp cloth. Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids, place in canner. Process in a boiling water-bath for recommended time.

Hot Pack: In a large saucepan, heat a single layer of fruit in syrup until just heated through, about 3 minutes. Pack hot nectarine halves or slices into 1 hot jar at a time, leaving ½ inch headspace. Add boiling syrup to cover. While another layer of fruit heats, release trapped air. Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp cloth. Attach lids, place in canner. Process in a boiling water-bath for recommended time.

 
Cold Pack:
Pints
25 minutes
1½ Pints or Quarts
30 minutes
Hot Pack:
Pints
20 minutes
1½ Pints or Quarts
25 minutes
Flavored Pears

Source: Ball Blue Book & UC Publication #5175,
"Safe Directions for Home Canning Fruits and Tomatoes"


 

Pears for canning are ripened after picking. Do not let them become soft.

Peel and cut into halves. Trim out core.

To Pack Raw: Pack in jars with cut side down and edges overlapping. Fill jars to within ½ inch of top with boiling, medium syrup. Seal.
To Pack Hot:

Drop fruit into boiling, medium syrup and just heat through. Pack hot into jars. Make overlapping layers with cut sides down. Fill jars with boiling liquid to within ½ inch of top. Seal.

For Mint Pears:
Add oil of peppermint and green food coloring, a drop at a time, until syrup is flavored and colored as desired. Cook pears in syrup for 10 minutes before packing. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes in a hot water bath.

For Cinnamon Pears:
Add 2 sticks of cinnamon and a few drops of red food coloring per quart of syrup. Remove cinnamon before packing. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes in a hot water bath.

For Orange Pears:
Cook peel of ¼ orange with each quart of syrup. Remove orange peel before packing pears. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes in a hot water bath.

 
Preserving Tomatoes

Source: Dr. George K. York,
Food Technologist Emeritus, UCD


 

Organisms that cause food spoilage: molds, yeasts and bacteria, are always present in the air, water and soil. Enzymes that may cause undesirable changes in flavor, color and texture are present in raw fruits and vegetables.
When you can fruits and vegetables, you heat them hot enough and long enough to destroy spoilage organisms. This heating (or processing) also stops the action of enzymes.

For fruits, tomatoes and pickled vegetables, use a WATER BATH CANNER. You can process these high-acid foods at 180° - 212°F in a simmering water bath canner.

When canning tomatoes with other vegetables such as onions or peppers, a water bath canner may be used if a ratio of 12 cups of tomatoes to 2 cups of other vegetables is used.

Since tomatoes are becoming less acidic, 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or ½ teaspoon citric acid should be added to each quart before processing. 2 tablespoons of vinegar may be used in place of the lemon juice.

A crock pot without the lid may be used for long simmering sauces, catsup, etc.

Dried tomatoes may be ground in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder to obtain powdered tomatoes.

 
Canning Tomatoes

Source: Adaptations from Dr. George York
& USDA publication


 

Yield: 2½ to 3½ pounds of tomatoes per quart jar.
Choose sound, ripe tomatoes that are fresh and firm; discarding spoiled or green tomatoes. Green tomatoes contain an alkaloid that may be toxic. DO NOT CAN OVERRIPE TOMATOES; they may be too low in acid for safe water bath canning. Prepare just enough tomatoes to fill the canner each time.
Wash. Dip in boiling water long enough to crack skins. Dip in cold water. Peel and remove cores. Save any juice to add to the tomatoes when heating.

To Hot Pack Tomatoes: Bring whole, peeled tomatoes to a boil. Pack HOT into clean, hot jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Cover with the hot liquid in which the tomatoes were heated. Add 1 teaspoon salt (optional) and 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 3 tablespoons vinegar or ½ teaspoon citric acid per quart. Remove bubbles with a non-metallic spatula. Wipe rim with clean, damp cloth. Seal with prepared lids.

To Raw Pack: Pack raw, whole, peeled tomatoes tightly to the tops of hot jars. Press tomatoes down after each two tomatoes are added to release juice and fill spaces. Add 1 teaspoon salt (optional) and 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice or 2 tablespoons vinegar or ½ teaspoon citric acid per quart. Remove bubbles. Wipe rim with clean, damp cloth. Seal with lids prepared according to manufacturer's directions.

Process: Place jars in a simmering water bath that covers the tops of the jars. Start timing when water returns to a gentle boil--200° to 210° F.

 
Cold Pack:
Pints
30 minutes
Quarts
45 minutes
Raw Pack:
Pints
45 minutes
Quarts
45 minutes

Cool jars, on a rack, free from drafts and undisturbed for 12 hours. Remove rings, check for seal. Wash. Label. Store in a cool, dry, dark place.

Note: Add lemon juice, citric acid or vinegar directly to the jars before filling with product, or to the top after packing. Add sugar to offset acid taste, if desired. The method for processing tomato-vegetable mixtures, such as stewed tomatoes or tomato sauce will depend on the recipe. Addition of low acid vegetables to tomatoes affects the pH and, without the addition of significant amounts of acid, requires pressure canning. Home-canned tomato juice usually separates. It is hard to duplicate at home the commercially used "hot break" extraction method.

 
Safe Methods for Making Pickles

Source: "Pickles, Relishes and Chutneys",
UC Publication #4080


 

Hot water bath process: Many recipes must be heat-processed to prevent spoilage.
Place lids in very hot (not boiling) water for at least 5 minutes. To assure a seal, be sure the lids are hot when put on the jar.

Fill clean jars with product leaving ½ inch headspace.

Cover the product with liquid or brine. Be sure to leave ½ inch headspace.

Remove air bubbles by running a plastic knife or spatula between the product and the jar.

Clean rim and threads of the jar with a clean, damp cloth.

Place lid on jar and secure with a hot ring band.

Place jars in a water bath or deep kettle with a rack. The water bath should be about ½ full before loading. Add enough water to cover the tops of the jars.

Begin to count processing time for pickles when the water bath temperature reaches 180ºF (simmering). Process for the time indicated in the recipe.

As you take the jars from the water bath, do not disturb the seal. Leave the ring bands on the jars until they have cooled thoroughly.

Place the hot jars on a rack or folded towel away from drafts or cool surfaces.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles
Yield: 6 to 7 pints

Ingredients
4 quarts sliced zucchini or cucumbers (16 cups)
1 quart sliced onions (4 cups)
½ cup salt
2 cups sugar
1 quart vinegar (4 cups)
2 teaspoons tumeric or dill seed
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 teaspoons mustard seed

Process

Cover zucchini/cucumbers and onions with 1 inch of water, add salt. Let stand 2 hours. Drain thoroughly.
Combine sugar, vinegar, and spices. Bring to a boil.
Add zucchini/cucumber and onions and cook 3 to 5 minutes.
Pack into clean, hot jars. Seal.
Process 10 minutes in hot water bath.

Quick Sweet Pickles
Yield: 8 pints

Ingredients
32 cucumbers, 4 inches long
1 cup salt
4 quarts water
4 cups vinegar
3 cups sugar
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices
Process
Wash cucumbers. Place in a clean container.
Cover with a brine made by dissolving the salt in the water. Let the brine stand on the cucumbers for 24 hours. Drain.
Place in cold, fresh water for 20 minutes. Drain and taste. If too salty, repeat this step.
Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise or in strips, according to their size. Put them in a clean container.
Combine vinegar and sugar. Add the spices, tied in a bag. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes.
Remove spice bag and pour boiling hot syrup over cucumbers. Let stand for 24 hours.
Drain syrup off and pack cucumbers in clean, hot jars.
Heat syrup to a rolling boil and fill the jars leaving ½ inch headspace. Seal.
Process 10 minutes in a simmering hot water bath.

 
Freezing Strawberries

Source: "Home Freezing of Fruits",
UC Publication # 2713


 

Select fully ripe, firm berries with a deep red color.

Sort out immature and defective fruit.

Handle berries gently to avoid bruising. Do not hull before washing. Wash a few at a time in cold or ice water. Drain thoroughly. Hull.

Strawberries sliced and mixed with dry sugar maintain firmness, flavor and color best and can be stored for a longer time. Large berries should be sliced or crushed. Medium and small-sized berries can be left whole.

Sliced or crushed berries:
Slice berries lengthwise, or in ¼ inch slices or crush.
Add ¾ to 1 cup sugar to 1 quart berries.
Mix carefully.
Let stand a few minutes for sugar to dissolve.
Pack, seal and freeze.
Whole berries:
Whole berries retain better quality of covered with syrup.
If frozen without sugar or syrup, use berries while still partially frozen to avoid mushiness.
Use within 3 to 4 months.
Syrup pack:
Put washed and drained berries into containers.
Cover with cold syrup.
Use 40 to 50 percent syrup (3 to 4¾ cups sugar to 4 cups water).
Seal, label and freeze.
Unsweetened pack:
Spread washed and thoroughly drained berries on shallow trays or pans.
Place in freezer until frozen solid.
Pack in plastic bags or containers.
Seal, label and freeze.

 
Dehydrating Strawberries

Source: "How to Dry Foods", HP Books, DeLong


 

Sweeter varieties which have a full red color and firm texture dry best.

Choose firm, ripe red berries with a solid color. They should be picked when fully ripe. They will not develop natural sugar if picked when slightly green and will not continue to ripen off the vine.

Preparation:
Gently wash strawberries about a quart at a time in plenty of cold water.
Remove berries from the water with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander.
Remove the cap and cut into ½ inch slices, or cut smaller berries in half.
Dry skin-side down.
Berries sliced too thin will stick to the drying surface.
No pretreatment is necessary. They may be dipped in a solution of ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid
per cup of water to increase the vitamin C content.
Dry at 150ºF for 1 to 2 hours, then at 130ºF until dry.
Strawberries should be pliable and leathery with no pockets of moisture.

Packaging:
Seal in a moisture proof container and place in the freezer for 48 hours.

Storage:
Store in a cool dry dark place. Low storage temperature extends shelf life.

Uses:
May be eaten as a snack, sprinkled on dry or cooked cereals. Combine with granola or use in ice cream, milk shakes or yogurt.
They are not good rehydrated because they lose their firm texture.