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You Can Give Your Food New Life By Canning And Preserving

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Aired 10/4/10

Tight budgets and a vegetable garden are the perfect motivations to learn about canning and preserving food. And even if all you want to do is learn the proper way to freeze extra food, you'll get tips during this Food Hour edition of These Days.

Tight budgets and a vegetable garden are the perfect motivations to learn about canning and preserving food. And even if all you want to do is learn the proper way to freeze extra food, you'll get tips during this Food Hour edition of These Days.

Guests: Caron Golden, food writer of the column "Local Bounty" for San Diego Magazine and author of the blog San Diego Foodstuff.

Chef Melissa Meyer is a partner in Suzie's certified Organic farm in Imperial Beach

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, coming up on These Days, canning and preserving used to be thought of as an old fashioned kind of thing to do. But with tight budgets and a new emphasis on buying and growing fresh foods, preserving food is starting to make a lot more sense. All this hour we'll be talking about preserving food, the different methods of canning, pickling, and even freezing meat and produce. We'll be hearing from experts and taking your calls with tips and questions. That's ahead this hour on These Days. First, the news.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Canning and preserving may be a tradition in your family. Every year you put up some jams, preserve some fruit, make a pickle or two out of cucumbers in the backyard. If that's the case, we'll probably be telling stories you can relate to during this hour, and you may want to tell us a thing or two, but then again, maybe you never thought in your wild evaluate dreams you'd be interested in canning, preserving or even learning the secrets of freezing food, and now you've been growing some vegetables perhaps buying at the farmers market or just tightening your grocery budget, and preserving food is starting to get a whole rot more interesting. If that's the case, then we'll be happy to take your questions because we'll be talking this hour about canning, preserving and giving your food a longer life.

I'd like to introduce my guests. Karen Golden is food writer of the column Local Bounty for San Diego magazine and authority of the blog San Diego Food Stuff. Karen, welcome.

KAREN GOLDEN: Good morning, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And chef Melissa Meyer is a partner at Suzie's Certified Organic Farmer in Imperial Beach. And Suzie[sic], welcome to the program.

MELISSA MEYER: Thank you for having me, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we'd like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. Would you like to make homemade jam but you don't know how? Tell us how it turned out. Give us a call with are why questions ask your comments the number is 1 888 895 5727. That's 1 888 895 KPBS. I want to ask you both, let me start with you first, Melissa, if I may. Was canning and preserving food a tradition in your household growing up?






MELISSA MEYER: Absolutely.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

MELISSA MEYER: Yes. I was just telling Karen about having always when I was at my grandparents' house, they had a seller where they kept all of their preserved vegetables and fruits and it actually seemed quite overwhelming as far as the supply that they had. I would say dozens and dozens of rows of different raspberries and carrots.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow.

MELISSA MEYER: Things that they were preserving throughout the years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's amazing. So that's like your first memory just looking at all those cans and seeing some

MELISSA MEYER: Potentially expired raspberries. Absolutely. For sure.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what about you Karen?

KAREN GOLDEN: Not at all. My grand I have a memory of being a child and we had peach and apricot trees at the first house we lived in. And I remember on a very hot summer day in the San Fernando valley helping my mother make, like peach jam, and I think that was the first and last time we did that. But my grandmother, her mother, used to make kosher dill pickles which were absolutely fantastic and I have her recipe and I actually haven't tried making it as an adult, but I have memories of driving home or going to their house and seeing jars, and probably she shouldn't have done this. She used to put them on the porch in the sun to cure.

And I'm amazed that we're not dead. But shoot what she did. And we would drive home in the car in the backseat with jars of pickles like rattling around in the back seat, and we would have them all over the kitchen whenever he would have done this. And they were so delicious.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So when was the first time you maybe thought about preserving foods yourself?

KAREN GOLDEN: I think it depends on what your definition of preserving is. Formal canning and pickling and stuff, only in the last few years have I really gotten into it. But I think there are other ways to preserve foods that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: You know, you can do that are much less regimented than

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Than the formal.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The formal canning procedure.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, Melissa, do you think that's an a resurgence in this formal idea of canning issue preserving fresh foods and so forth? Have you seen that interest in that really sort of skyrocket?

MELISSA MEYER: Oh, absolutely. I think that just like with Karen saying just in the past few years she's been a little more excited about if. We're we're catching the same wave that everyone in America is catching. I mean, food and wine, gourmet magazine in the last couple years have had a resurgence of recipes and chefs across America are preserving in new and different ways than they probably have ever had before. Probably in the last few years I've had a lot more personal engagement with preserving and in ways that are not as traditional as the more laborious canning methods I'm trying to find more, like, kind of like quick kitchen recipes that maybe you're preserving something for 2 to 3 weeks longer instead of a year longer. Of actually the the USDA only recommends keeping canned vegetables for up to a year.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see.

MELISSA MEYER: So I think if we kind of look at it on that scale, it can be less laborious than the traditional methods and give us more opportunities to preserve a lot more.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are the motivations Dallas County, though, both of you about why this is becoming more popular?

KAREN GOLDEN: There are a number of things going on. And you have to remember that what we're doing in Southern California is being done, I think more for the joy of it than a necessity of it. And so if you you're talking to us living here in San Diego compared to someone who's living in Vermont or New Hampshire or the midwest where the imperative is really to be able to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables during the year when it's not growing. For us, we have the luxury of having a lot of different kinds of pro we have seasonal produce, but we have seasonal produce throughout the year. So things change but we still have a lot of variety. So for me, I think that a lot of what's going on at least locally is a great awareness of of organic and fresh and seasonal produce. And because of that, we also have a great desire to may be return to some of the the cooking arts that is part of the nostalgia of things that our parents and grandparents might have done.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Melissa?

MELISSA MEYER: Well, just to touch on what Karen was saying, you know, original canning was basically out of necessity.

KAREN GOLDEN: Right.

MELISSA MEYER: Okay, so we were preserving summers, spring and summers's harvest to get us through the winters of not me or Karen but, you know, here in San Diego, I think it is more of a celebration of the seasonal harvests. And because we have such a strong support of slow food in our community, I think it's more of preserving in a slow food practice, just like salting and curing meats but it's more of an intention of that ideology and a way of showcasing those ingredients and produce that we found at the farmers market that we may not otherwise enjoy because if we can't eat it fresh, we would do 1 or 2 things: We would either throw it away, compost it, or hopefully preserve it in another way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. We're talking your calls about canning and preserving foods 18888955727 is our number. Of let's hear from Toby calling from pow way. Good morning Toby welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Morning. I just got my order of fresh hatch Chiles. And there's more than I can freeze. I was wondering if there's anyway sticking it in a jar, can keep it a little longer?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Can you can Chile?

KAREN GOLDEN: You can do that but you know what? When I got my hatch Chiles, I spent very little time. I put them on a baking sheet and I put them under the broiler and roasted them until they turned, you know, black all around, took them out, let them cool, freezer them in I think one point increments in freezer bags and they're all in the freezer waiting for me. I took some out, actually to include them in a sauce I was making and it I loved it. I defrosted them and when you rub the Chiles, the skin comes right off, you take the seeds out and use them no problem.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. So when would you recommend that as well, Melissa?

MELISSA MEYER: Absolutely. I also would recommend doing the quick marinade basically where you roast the Chiles and then just put them in a marinade with maybe some lemon sea salt and some nice olive oil, then you could preserve them in a jar and treat them as a refrigerator like condiment or accoutrements, then they have a shelf life of up to two weeks to a month.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Up to two weeks to a month.

KAREN GOLDEN: And that way they're a lot more accessible and that marinade is gonna, you know, be absorbed in the skin and it's very much like the kio peppers or those marinated peppers you find in the grocery store.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How long can you keep them in the freezer?

KAREN GOLDEN: I would say maybe six months or so.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.

KAREN GOLDEN: To a year. You have to make sure that you get as much air out of the bag as you can before you seal it because you don't want to get freezer burn.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you both. Can just about all foods be preserved?

KAREN GOLDEN: I think so. But you know, there's gonna be somebody who's gonna call up and say no. Right?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Loaded question.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.

MELISSA MEYER: I think that essentially, almost all foods, and then dairy is a tricky category, if you're gonna say all food. I mean, you could even freeze flour, I guess, you know? But dairy is definitely one of the year gray areas and people

KAREN GOLDEN: Oh, yeah. Don't freeze your cheese.

MELISSA MEYER: Don't.

KAREN GOLDEN: If you're gonna use parmesan cheese in a soup later, put the rind in it, but that's it.

MELISSA MEYER: Really. I think that freezing actually if that's the one category where it actually is more detrimental to the product as far as the flavor and and texture.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And we've talked, and you've touched on the idea of freezing, which seems like the easiest method of preservation. What are different what are the different methods that we're talking about preserving foods? You've got canning, right?

KAREN GOLDEN: Right.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And?

KAREN GOLDEN: Well, you can talk about the whole, like, sort of savory pickles and all of that. Upon and then jams and preserves. And jellies, and, you know, marmalades that kind of thing. There are a lot of different ways of preserving. If you're talking about meat, you're talking I mean you can dehydrate things too.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sure yeah.

KAREN GOLDEN: So there are a lot of things that you can do extending on what the the ingredient is that you're talking about.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's talk about sort of the normal garden produce that people like to like to keep in fruits and stuff like that. We're talking, basically, about canning and making jams and that kind of thing.

KAREN GOLDEN: Right.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see. And how long can people keep these items? You said just the idea is basically a year?

MELISSA MEYER: Actually, yes. I mean, but you know, those are the FDA and the USDA where that can get, you know it's either it's either gonna be well, my grandmother says we can keep those for flee years but the, if DA says, well, I don't believe one year because that's the safety net regulation. However, I personally wouldn't really want to keep anything around after 12 months because its shelf life is depreciating. It just degrades in quality.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.

MELISSA MEYER: So I would try to think of that as my personal expiration date specifically because you still want to showcase the best that that fruit or vegetable or meat or whatever can offer. And then there's there's other wears that you could preserve. And we have I know we haven't gotten there yet, but alcohol is another

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah.

MELISSA MEYER: One of the easiest failsafe ways because it kills bacteria.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Oh.

MELISSA MEYER: And then you can preserve, like, a lot of summer fruit. And have some, you know, boozy fruit for 'cause it they have to, like, they have to assimilate for quite a while together. So it would be more of like a longer preservation period for, say, 2 to 3 months then it would make for a great, you know, holiday gift or accoutrement to a holiday celebration. But also apples make apple wine issue terror definitely other ways besides what we normally think of as the go to way to preserving.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's

KAREN GOLDEN: And the other thing is you can do things very quickly too. We're talking about the idea of canning doesn't mean having to put aside a weekend with your friends and your family and making, up know, dozens of jars of something. I live in a community that has a loquat tree, and for days I was picking ripe loquats until I had two pounds and it made a whole two jars of jam. But that's a really nice couple of little jars it didn't take much effort. And another thing that I do, I think you can do this with either vegetables but this is a wonderful tradition in Italy of making pickles egg plant. And it's a very easy process, and I wrote with it a few weeks ago on San Diego food stuff for the summer fest thing I'm a apart of. And that's essentially pickling although what you end up with, 'cause you're boiling the egg plant pieces in vinegar. And then when they're drained, you pack them in a jar with olive oil and garlic and oregano and pepper and let it sit for a couple of days and you've got this wonderful marinaded pickled eggplant that you can use for an appetizer but it's just gonna be one little jar so make it again when you're done with that, you know in it's like easy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have to take a break, but before we do, I do want to take this one call. Tim has been waiting for a while of we're taking your calls at 1 888 895 5727 . Tim calling from San Diego. Good morning.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. I just wanted to comment on why you may want to can here locally. And it's because produce unlike a lot of other things, the more you spend, the lower the quality is, the less you spend, the higher the quality is. It is perishable so if you get used to buying strawberry when they're $10 a flat, and doing preserving and buying your peppers when they're flush in the middle of summer and doing preserves as well, you'll end up having a high quality product at a low price.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A high quality product at a low price. And also I've read that when you to this, when you preserve your own fruits and vegetables, and so forth, and make your own jams you know exactly what's in them.

MELISSA MEYER: Absolutely. Absolutely, quality control at your own home. Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: Right yeah.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. As I said, we have to take a short break. When we return, we will talk about canning preserving your food, and my guests are Sharon Golden, and Melissa Meyer. We'll taking your calls at 1 888 895 5727 . You're listening to These Days on KPBS of.

Welcome back, I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Of and we're talking about a variety of ways that you can preserve your food. My guests are chef Melissa mire, she is a person in Suzie's Certified Organic Farm in Imperial Beach. And Karen Golden, food writer of the column Bounty for San Diego Magazine and author of the blog, San Diego Food Stuff. We're taking your calls with your questions and your comments about canning and preserving and how you lengthen the life of your food. 1 888 895 5727.

And Karen, you had a follow up comment about Tim's question or his advice and maybe you can use, you know, sort of over ripe fruit or produce that's passed its prime and you can it and you can preserve it and therefore you can get something high quality out of something that wasn't too great to start out with.

KAREN GOLDEN: Well, it's not that it's too great to start out with. If you're going to have under ripe produce.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

KAREN GOLDEN: You can't improve that. I'm you know, there's just no way.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: If you have ripe or over ripe produce then you really have a lot of produce at its peek in terms of sugar content and flavor, but it may go bad for quickly because it's so rape. The great thing to do if you're going to, you know, plan on either preserving or pickling or whatever, is when you go to the farmers' market, go at the end of the market, as the farmers are packing up, basically they're going to be eager to sell you what they have remaining. And you request get some great deals with the farmers on produce. That maybe two hours before you would have been paying a higher price.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's a very good that's a very good tip. Now, Melissa, we obviously can't give a lesson in canning during this show. There are books out and classes for that. But if you could, run us through the procedure involved. What do you need to have and what do you need to do in order to can fruits and vegetables?

KAREN GOLDEN: Well, if if we're looking at it from a pickling and preserving standpoint, basically you need some sterilized jars and you need the rubber to thinks that hold the jars and you need a large enough pot to into a water bath for those jars and you need the product to put into those jars.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah, yes.

MELISSA MEYER: And so that could include obviously the vegetable, salt is essential, sugar for preserving.

KAREN GOLDEN: Vinegar.

MELISSA MEYER: Vinegar. You have to have vinegar if you want to make pickles.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yes.

MELISSA MEYER: Then you would definitely want to look into having pickling spices and other savories and bay leaves for those types of recipes, then with preserving jams and jellies, obviously it's quintessential that you have sugar. I'm really into doing a pectin free recipe. And I also like to do more of the refrigerator preserves where you don't have to cook them in a stop bath longer. But that's definitely a part of the process. If you want something that's gonna have that one one year shelf life, you're gonna want to put it in a a processing bath for ten minutes in boiling water. That's after you've already done the actual cooking of cooking down of the preserves. Or cooking the pickling liquid and adding it to your pickled vegetables.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: But if you wanted to just do a more quick recipe and use that as a refrigerator condiment. You have wouldn't have to do the ten minute boiling processing bath.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that's the kind of thing that stops a lot of people.

KAREN GOLDEN: Oh, it stops me. I had I ended up with a crazy week but my intent was to any to the kitchen where Melissa makes these wonderful pickles and watch her go through it because I was feeling at home that I wasn't quite getting it's a real art and dance as it were to get the timing right. Because if you read, the instructions tend to be very intimidating and I think that's the biggest problem. It can't be that difficult because so many people in the world do this and probably have very little education among many of them too. So I don't think it's one of these things that is a terribly difficult thing to do.

  1. But if you haven't done it before, reading the directions and making sure that, you know, all of everything is set up in your kitchen so that you can come from the cooking part of the process to the actual canning part of the process and making sure that it haul comes out right without over cooking, it's not a big deal with pickling, but the art of making good jams and cooking everything enough in the pot as part of the process of the cooking of the actual fruit. And then when you actually process it in the water bath, making sure that you don't over cook it there because.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: Then you end up with a really mealy kind of text in the jam. So that can be tricky but there are ways I mean Melissa does it. All of us do it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There are so many people who want to get in on our conversation.

KAREN GOLDEN: Okay.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to take a few phone quails we are taking your calls at 1 888 895 5727. Shelly is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Shelly, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good morning.

NEW SPEAKER: I didn't hear you touch on actual fermentation, and that's one of my favorite preservation methods I've had a little trouble in Southern California with the heat. But and also I wanted to know if there are any shortcuts to the sterilization?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To the sterilization? Is that what you

NEW SPEAKER: The jars the initial sterilization, I know sometimes they say you can just pop the jars in the often for a while and they claim that's better than boiling them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you for the call and you are shake your head no. Melissa am.

MELISSA MEYER: Actually you can just run them through a dish washer and if you're gonna be putting it through the processing bath, especially pickles you don't have to wash the you know issue you don't have to take the extra sterilization step because you're doing that in the processing bath. That that's two different methods and if you feel a lot of people will say you have to wash them first. I don't know why you wouldn't have a clean jar in the first place, I mean that but that's just my curiosity, like, why you wouldn't already have clean jars but if you have a clean jar to start with, and you want to run it through the dish washer first, then you're doing it in a processing bath after you've done you're cooking process.

So that's just the nature of it. By tradition. That also make makes it, you know, like, oh, I have to sterilize, and now I'm overwhelmed, and you know, if you have a dish washer, you've sterilized it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah.

MELISSA MEYER: And you're gonna be pushing it through the processing bath if you're gonna take that extra step.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

MELISSA MEYER: So if you're not gonna take that extra step, be sure you run them through the dinner washer or do both just to be safer. But Karen was saying earlier and I don't want to misquote the person who does your favorite marmalades in the bay area.

KAREN GOLDEN: Oh. Oh, yeah.

MELISSA MEYER: She said please say it.

KAREN GOLDEN: Oh, well, I wrote a story on this for the union tribune about a year or so ago, and I interviewed a woman named June tail are on what I can it is the most fabulous jams and have been practices up in San Francisco. And I was asking her this question, which all of us have if they want to do it, you know, what's the best way to do it so we won't hurt anybody? We won't make anybody sick? You won't kill anybody. Botulism the on when he will thing.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sure.

KAREN GOLDEN: And her response was the only way your gonna kill somebody with this is if you hit them in the head with the jar. And I thought, okay. But you know what? I think she was being a little, you know.

MELISSA MEYER: Flippant.

KAREN GOLDEN: Flip apt. But you do have to make sure that things are clean and because you botulism is always an issue. But with a lot of things, it's as Melissa was saying, especially if you're dealing with vinegar preserve types, I mean the vinegar, the acid's gonna kill a lot of those germs.

MELISSA MEYER: And in regards to the natural fermentation process there's only a few things that come to mind for me, and that's sauerkraut and Kimchi. And I did mention the apple wine.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes, I did.

MELISSA MEYER: So it's I'm not, like, hyper familiar with that process, but if you look at sauerkraut in the grocery store and the label is sauerkraut, water, and salt. So and if you think about the traditional kMc methods, the way I mean, it sounds wild, but it works and they have been doing it for centuries. So it really doesn't take much more than that that acid or the sugar that is added to any time you think of preserving something, you always want to think of salad, acid, sugar.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Let's take some more calls Regina is calling us from San Diego. Good morning, Regina, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hello.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hugh.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, I was calling, 'cause well, I'm from Alabama and we used to do a lot of pickling and one of the things we read in one of the books we wanted to try was they were saying how you could replace anywhere you could use vinegar, you could use lemon juice. And we tried it, it was fabulous, in fact the pickles came out very crispy and we didn't even have to do the bath. We it cut the time down with the with the vinegar it took a lot more, I mean, what do you call it? A longer process, where's the vinegar it's it took like maybe eight hours versus a whole 24 hour period with the lemon juice of that's interesting, let's get some reaction. Pickling with lemon juice instead of vinegar.

KAREN GOLDEN: I've never tried that. I don't know about that.

MELISSA MEYER: Actually, I have not just pickled solely with lemon juice, but once again, it is citric acid so it has an incredible level of preservation qualities to it. And I think the flavor is gonna obviously be more unique and different than the vinegar. And it might actually be more beneficial as far as the flavor just kind of thinking about it on my palette. But you know, I can't really speak for having ever done it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's interesting.

MELISSA MEYER: But I do know that it kind of remind it is me more of a brine method where you would use salt and lemon and water with, say, artichokes or carrots or other vegetables, cauliflower, and it to me is just another method of preparation. Of.

KAREN GOLDEN: And I'm saying I haven't done it before but of course I've done it before because I've preserved lemons.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Ah.

KAREN GOLDEN: And that's one of the easiest, wonderful flavors to do. And this is the simplest thing in the world. I love doing them particularly with Meyer lemons because of the sweetness of the lemon. But you can do it with regular Eureka lemons, and all you're doing is get a clean jar, slice a lemon length wise on one side to half of the lemon, turn it around and do it on the opposite direction, stuff the preserve with kosher salt or sea salt, shove it into the jar, do this repeatedly until the jar is full, keep pressing down, then literally seal the jar. That is it. And keep it on the counter for about a month. Every few days, shake it back and forth. The lemon will release the juices. You're gonna have this liquidy jar filled with pieces of, you know, lemon in there.

After about a month, when you want to use this with cooking you just slice a little bit off the lemon and rinse it off 'cause you want to get the salt off of it. And I chop it and add it to pasta sauces, I add it, like, you know, pasta and feta cheese, that kind of thing. You can cook it, make a sauce with fish of that's the most delicious favor it's a very Moroccan style of cooking.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That's very interesting because amount of people have excess lemons with nothing to do with them.

KAREN GOLDEN: That's the perfect thick and give them as gives for the holidays, I mean, this is a marvelous thing to do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'd like to mention at this point, I think something that's fascinating about this whole canning and preserving is if you don't freeze any other method of preserving food is gonna give you a food that tastes a little different than the original.

KAREN GOLDEN: Uh huh.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that is also a way to give new life to your food, by making it just slightly different and using it in different ways.

KAREN GOLDEN: You're also gonna get great visuals. Melissa made something, this is what got me started on the whole thing. Fourth of July party, the and Melissa made these cumbers that were from Suzie's Farm, that that looked like one inch watermelons. They were the most striking and absolutely beautiful pieces of vegetables, and you put them in your mouth, and you think you might be eating watermelon but it's a pickle, it's a cucumber. So you can take really interesting produce that you ordinarily wouldn't know really quite what to do with and create flavors and a visual presentation that is really quite remarkable.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that's the way you look at it when you're trying to preserve food, is what is this going to come out as?

MELISSA MEYER: Right, and you know, if you're gonna freeze it, you're suspending a lot of those, like, visual and flavor qualities. But when you are canning or preserving you're showcasing the product in a completely new and inventive and different way. So you could have a flesh vegetable. And you could turn it into a soup or you could pickle it, and you could enjoy that, even in three different ways all at once. I think that's the benefit we have here locally in San Diego. Where we would be able to pill watermelon radish out of the ground and eat it fresh and you eat it pickled all in the same season. But, yes, I think that the visual qualities and the flavor qualities that we can transform actually make it very exciting to even approach pickling preserving and jamming.

KAREN GOLDEN: And we haven't even talked about the flavor combinations that you can do with all of these things too.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Let's take another call. We're taking your calls at 1 888 895 5727. Jim's calling us from San Diego. Jim, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you. My cellphone is about to die. I'm glad I finally got it. My question, my original question was about hard boils eggs, and take the shells off, and pickle them, what's the shelf life on that? And two, can I keep using it over and over if I add a lemon brine to it or some sauerkraut juice?

KAREN GOLDEN: That's hilarious.

MELISSA MEYER: Use it once, enjoy it, and move on. Otherwise he's gonna create a thousand year old duck eggs here. Yeah, I think maybe the maybe two, once again, maybe two weeks and using it, and pickle juice is fine. But you may want to actually create if you really want to do pickled eggs, you want probably want to create the pickling solution specifically for the egg and not necessarily use one that was left over in your refrigerator that housed pickles that you may not have already put your fork in, but your hand in that jar, and given cross contamination an opportunity there.

KAREN GOLDEN: But pickle juice is great.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Sneak in another call before the break. Allen is calling from the road. Hi, Allen. Welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi. Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Good morning.

NEW SPEAKER: I am really bullish about sauerkraut, and I love the lack of fermentation process, and you just I mean it's like it's a simple formula, just two percent of the weight of the vegetable you're using of salt, and just salt the vegetables and stick it in a Mason jar. And you don't need I mean, I got intimidated just hearing all the tools necessary for a vinegar bath and all these things and I just go, oh, my God. This you just need a Mason jar and a knife and salt and your veggies, and you just chop it up, salt it up, and let it sit for a couple weeks, and bam. It's really tasty. And you got all that enzymes and friendly bacteria that's good for your gut. And I'm just, like, really zealous about how great sauerkraut is.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Allen, I'm so glad you were able to express that.

NEW SPEAKER: It's just awesome.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Allen. Thank you for the call. We have to take a short break. When we return, we'll continue talking about canning and preserving. Some of the tastes, and favorite recipes that you have, and we'll continue taking your calls 1 888 895 5727. You're listening to These Days on KPBS.

Welcome back. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. My guests are Karen Golden and chef Melissa Meyer, and we're talking about canning and preserving and extending the length of your food. 1 888 895 5727 . And let's go right to the call the lines and hear from our callers. Lisa is calling from San Marcos. Good morning, Lisa. And welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi. I have a personal training company, and I'm always struggling to get people to eat more foods of color, and instead of buying through this long term processing on a short term basis I just ask people take any frozen organic berries in a pan issue they heat it up issue they mash it with a potato masher, let it as I remember for about an hour conferred let it cool put it in a jar then they have this fresh fruit compote for about a week, and it's so much less intimidating than pickling. I realize that's exciting but this is how I get people to eat a lot more fiber and foods of color, particularly and it's low sugar so you can spread if on anything and put it on cottage cheese it's just wonderful and so easy.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lisa thank you so much. Is there anything anything about their freezer jam that you were telling me about?

KAREN GOLDEN: Yeah, yeah. There's easy ways to do it, what she just described is a very simple way to did it. I experimented with strawberry freezer jam this summer. And it's a very simple thing to do. I mean, really, you're just combining strawberries, sugar and pectin, and I'm like Melissa, I don't want like using pectin, but you have to do it for this, but and you just combine and, you let it stand and then you put it in the freezer. The thing is though, that you're not gonna get the depth of flavor with these methods as you do when you're cooking it and when maybe you're adding some other ingredients you can add wines or liqueur, you can add herbs and spices and you're gonna get a much richer and much more flavorful experience.

Having said that though, if that's not a priority and you really just want to have a way to quickly use up produce that's gonna go bad and that you want to use in a week, those methods are perfectly fine.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Melissa, what's wrong with pectin?

MELISSA MEYER: Actually there is, you know, pectin can be derived from natural sources. Apples are one of them. It's just that the

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I think we meant artificial pectin.

MELISSA MEYER: Obviously it's artificial. And I'm very much more into the purist organic approach to foods. So any unnecessary preservative that you can actually replace with something natural is just my my mental and philosophical approach.

KAREN GOLDEN: And there are ways on line you can look up there are fruits that have pectin in them that you can use and you can use in combination with fruits that maybe don't have them. So lemons for instance have a lot of pectin in them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I see.

KAREN GOLDEN: And you would want to that's why you use lemons when you're making like a marmalade.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've heard some people have a problem with canned vegetables in particular because they become discolored. Any way to keep that color?

MELISSA MEYER: That is the $20 million question.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.

MELISSA MEYER: That's why I prefer the the quick method. Because if you have to put it through that boiling processing bath, it inevitably is gonna change the color and the texture of the vegetable or the fruit. So I'm, you know, putting out a request to anybody in the technology world who can help us keep that color preserved without having to do something unnatural to it. And without having to do that processing bath. Because inescapably, once you put it through that, are it changes color. Once you cook something it's gonna change color.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. So you know, with the Mexican gherkin recipe, that's why I like to do more of refrigerator approach, we can keep them for 2 or 3 weeks and they maintain their color so they're just as dazzling visually as they are had on your palette. But it just ultimately will change the color.

KAREN GOLDEN: So one thing that does look nice I think afterwards though, is you can make tomato sauce, and you're dona get that beautiful vibrant color. It stays but most the cooking issue I've tried, you know, affair Gus, I made I love garlic steaks which are very rare and have a very short season. So I decided to pickle them. And they're fine of they're good, I mean, I'm glad I have them. But they're kind of a grayish green. And you know, kind of look like, you know, the color of this mug. Which is a grayish green. And not the vibrant green that, you know.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah, yeah.

KAREN GOLDEN: It started as

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It doesn't whet your appetite just looking at them.

KAREN GOLDEN: But thinking about it does.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, let me ask you both then of what are some of your favorite recipes or give me one recipe that you like using preserved veggies.

KAREN GOLDEN: Oh, for veggies?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yeah.

KAREN GOLDEN: 'Cause I was gonna give a fruit.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A fruit? Yeah.

KAREN GOLDEN: I love if anyone has the Barefoot Contessa at Home book, she has a recipe for Ana's Orange Marmalade, which is very easy to make. It's oranges, lemons, and sugar. I ended up not using oranges and using tangelos, and all you're going to do is slice up the fruit and mix it with the lemons and the sugar and bring it to a boil, then let it sit over night, and bring it to a boil the next morning. It is so easy to make, and it is really delicious.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. Melissa?

MELISSA MEYER: Okay. As I was saying I really mike more of the refrigerator condiment and accoutrement approach because I really am people who know me know I am a fan of condiments. And so for me, I would would definitely recommend doing, you know, some marinated vegetables like marinated artichokes in lemon and oil and sea salt, and you can keep that in the fridge for two or three weeks. I just created a recipe that I'm just in love with, and it's a felony leak and garlic pure a, and all you do is cook those three ingredients down with sea salt and olive oil, and you puree it, and now you have this condiment in your refrigerator that will probably keep up to a month. And you use it for pizza sauces, just a variety of different things you can possess it in pasta, and one of my favorite other recipes is tomato jam. It's very similar to the Barefoot Contessa approach. You've got three ingredient so you've got equal parts tomato, equal parts sugar, and maybe a little bit of lemon and maybe a little bit of sea salt. And that is it. You cook it down, you marry them, then you can put it in the refrigerator and use it as a fresh condiment or put it through the processing bath and keep it up to a year.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: All of what you just said all sounds very interesting.

KAREN GOLDEN: And you can use the oils from whatever you're marinating the vegetables in. You can add those to a tomato sauce too. And you've got this very richly flavored oil that you wouldn't have otherwise.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you quickly, Karen because I kid say that we were gonna talk about freezing of are there any tricks to long term freezing some something that people have to remember.

KAREN GOLDEN: Get the air out.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Get the air out.

KAREN GOLDEN: Get the air out. One of the things that I was so disappointed with, it was I think it was Ziploc where they all of a sudden started selling consumer versions of those

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Yes. Yes, I know what you mean.

KAREN GOLDEN: And it had this little pump and the bag had a little hole in it.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right.

KAREN GOLDEN: I loved that because I would put all sorts of things in the freezer bags, get all the air out easily without having to have a big machine sitting on my sink.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly.

KAREN GOLDEN: They gave that up and so I I'm stuck with the the little machine thing part but Perez down hard, get the air out, if you're gonna fill a jar, fill it to the top. But remember also, leave a little bit of room for it to expand because things in cold expand. But I keep tomato sauces in there, I've got some freezer jam in there, I've got all sorts of different the hatch Chiles are in baggies.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me take a call now, Jill is calling us from Chula Vista. Good morning, Jill, welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Hi. Yes?

NEW SPEAKER: I would love to share about a book that I uses my canning Bible. That I have for about ten years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay.

NEW SPEAKER: It's called putting food by, by Janet Green and Ruth Hertzberg. And it's it talks like your guests are talking today, very and answers the questions about what not to do.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

NEW SPEAKER: And what not to do. I am I love the fact that this topic came on today. I think right now I have, oh, 262 jars that I've done this year of all sorts of preserves, are figs, any free fruit I can get my hands on.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow, have you just started sore is this something you've been doing for years?

NEW SPEAKER: No, I got turned on, like everybody else does, by an experience like 20 years ago at a girlfriend's house when you start to can, you will it becomes your summer passion. And people that know you just have to kind of go with it. If they're gonna visit during canning season they just have to go with it so she was making strawberry jam. I was hooked from then, we moved to Oregon which, like here you can find absolutely anything almost pickable, which is kind of nirvana for three months of the year.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Uh huh.

NEW SPEAKER: But here I get to fight exotic fruits such as people in Chula Vista have figs dropping on their heads daily that they can't get rid of fast enough. I've made papaya preserves this year. I have passion fruit growing in my home garden that the previous owner planted and I made passion fruit jam. I can't do it enough it's sort of a slight illness and I have to hide all my jams from people in a special closet that nobody is allowed to go in because people will just come and take a jar home.

KAREN GOLDEN: Yes. And oh, look how many you have. I know I'll take one.

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, and literally you can it's probably the easiest way to make somebody's day is to drop off if they're having a bad day a little something, you don't even need to put I a topper on it. Some people put fancy toppers on theirs. The can of tomato jam, I just made two kidney chutneys this year. I think it was Melissa was saying she's a fan of condiments. I've made out of the book I recommended, I made an incredible pear chutney that had chutney people just like following me and asking, when are you making it again?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Jill, you're a case study for our program. I thank you so much for calling and talking with us.

NEW SPEAKER: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH I do want to get in just a little bit of discussion about the fact that not everyone is gonna want to do this. And we don't have Jills just dropping on our heads like the figs in Chula Vista. Some people just are not gonna want to can. So if you do want to taste the flavors of really good preserves or really good jam, are there places you can go, Karen?

KAREN GOLDEN: There are various centers at the different farmers markets who are selling, we were talking about the Chiles, Ritchie's Chiles, and he's at Hillcrest, and Little Italy, and he maybe a couple other farmers markets. He makes some really stunning preserves out of the Chiles, and I bought a jar of his pomegranate Habanero Chile. It's wonderful to use in things like roasting chicken, that kind of thing. Our friend, Chad White who used to be the executive chef at Roseville has now gone on his own. He started a little company called Ego Culinary Preserves. And you should look him up on Facebook, and he's going to be selling madjool date bacon preserves, tomato jalapeno and basil jelly, lemon verbena pickled heirloom tomatoes, and pineapple sage onion jelly. I think that's great. We have Jackie here, and she sells some really interesting very basic ones including a sham board blue berry jam that I really like. And you can go on line and pick up June Taylor's jams and ketch oh, she makes the most wonderful ketchup and marmalades, and if you go to Berkeley you can take a class with her, but it's junetaylor.com, I think.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Melissa, what about on Suzie's farm?

MELISSA MEYER: Yes, actually funny you should ask. That's what I was gonna touch on. Right now, with Suzie's Farm, we're very much in the research and development phase of creating a product line that showcases these vegetables beyond the farmer's market. So we'll be able to find Suzie's preserved vegetables and fruits along the isles perhaps in whole foods and at the farmer's market. Whether it's a soup or a pure a or I jam or a marinated peppers, we definitely believe the sky's the limit as far as how you can showcase the produce beyond the what we normally think of when we think of produce, and I think really it's just an extension of this movement of embracing, you know, hand crafted foods and heirloom vegetables and heirloom agriculture and using things in season.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In a very, very short period of time, can you tell me what spices should be added to canned squash?

MELISSA MEYER: Canned squash. Well, I guess we would go ahead and say sea salt

Comments

Avatar for user 'mzambrano'

mzambrano | October 4, 2010 at 10:50 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

We belong to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and often get too many strawberries, plumbs, peaches, and oranges than we can eat before they get over-ripe. I've used Ina Garten's recipes for making easy jam and marmalade. I make small quantities that don't need to be canned, just a jar-full at a time. These can last several weeks in the fridge and are low in sugar because you control the sweetness. My family really enjoys these and they are not hard to make. You just have to be vigilant so that the jam doesn't burn as it thickens.

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Avatar for user 'carbonates'

carbonates | October 4, 2010 at 11:32 a.m. ― 3 years, 9 months ago

Great show! One of the ways I managed to finance my college education was with a garden that was alongside my urban driveway; by canning the vegetables I grew I had a year-round food supply at almost no cost. I have gone even further since then. I now dehydrate food, making raisins when grapes are cheap, drying all sorts of fruit and vegetables in season, and making jerky from meat. I developed my own recipes for chicken and beef jerky, made with wine and lower salt than typically found in commercial products. I also preserve dried vegetables such as tomatoes in olive oil, which makes a delicious product. By making my own dried meats I can replace sodium salt with potassium salt and make healthier food. I also make my own sausage, and because I make it myself can make it leaner than what is available in the store as well as adding fruits, vegetables, and my own spices for flavor. Using the sausage grinder, I also make cat food, and have not purchased commercial pet food since the contaminated pet food scare a few years ago. Jellies, jams, and pickles are great, but if you really want to experience the potential of preserving food, there is much more that can be done even in a small kitchen.

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