Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Preserve the Bounty Challenge

While surfing the net the other day, I came across The Nourished Kitchen - Preserve the Bounty Challenge. I decided to sign up. What better way to continue healthy, local, wholesome eating than by preserving the summer harvest?

In the month of August. we’re setting aside our pressure canners and we’ll be preserving the bounty of the summer season naturally while optimizing the nutrition of the foods we put up for winter. Over the course of 5 weeks we’ll cover sun-drying, oil curing, freezing, fermentation and salt-curing – traditional techniques that optimize nutrition and don’t heat up the kitchen like canning.

I missed week one (fermentation) and week two (preserving in oil & fat), but I signed up just in time to receive instructions for week three (preserving in vinegar). Sometime during the month or at the end of the challenge I will go back and try the challenges from weeks one and two.

For now - preserving in vinegar. Well, that's easy. Pickled green beans, pickled carrots, picked garlic, pickled beets. I make fabulous spicy pickled dill beans. And I might try my hand at pickled peppers. You name it - If it's available at the market tomorrow, I'm going to pickle it. The catch is I can't boil the finished product to ensure a tight, secure seal on the jars. That's no problem though. Vinegar and salt are fabulous preservatives and as long as I store my goods in the refrigerator, I will have no problems with bacteria or other nasties.

In other food preserving news, I bought a food dehydrator. My plan is to dry most of the herbs in my garden (basil, parsley, lemon basil, rosemary, thyme, chives), make my own dehydrated minced onion and garlic and dry some blueberries and strawberries for use in cereal and baking in the winter. I may even try my hand at fruit leathers and jerky!

(As it turns out, drying and dehydrating was the challenge for week 5! And instead of salt curing, we preserved with alcohol in week four.)

Do you have any experience with preserving in vinegar or with food dehydrators?

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