Autumn brings the return of cooler weather that is synonymous with the end of the harvests. In order to optimize the generous harvest from the gardens we’ve well-maintained throughout the summer, preserving our food is often required. While certain vegetables can take a while to finally arrive, once they’re fully ripened, it’s not uncommon for them to be abundant. Here are some tips to help you prevent waste through canning.
The biggest danger with canning is to prevent Clostridium botulinum infection. If you ingest contaminated food, you could contract botulism. Botulism is a rare paralytic condition caused by ingesting a neurotoxin (botulinum toxin) that is found in contaminated food. To ensure proper preserving, canning must be done in a safe manner. While boiling water is adequate to treat some foods, others require pressure-canning. The pressure canner is an instrument specially designed for canning. It completely eliminates the risk of contamination through a heat and pressurized steam treatment. If you regularly make conserves, you can get it in supermarkets or in specialty kitchen stores. The food’s acidity level is therefore the criterion that will determine the technique required for canning. In fact, foods low in acidity (meat, fish, vegetables, spaghetti sauce) will require pressure canning, while those that are more acidic (fruits) can be sealed in boiling water.
Spaghetti sauce and pickles are classics of Quebec culture. However, you should know that with a little creativity and inspiration, you can preserve a nice variety of foods for the cold season. Here are a few examples:
Canned game meat
Why not can game meat? It’ll be available when you want to prepare a meal, and won’t require thawing. You can mix different kinds of meats in the same jar to optimize flavour and nutritional value.
Chutney (apple and rhubarb)
Chutney is a "sweet and sour" type sauce that accompanies Indian or African cuisine (typically). Chutney contains a good amount of green peppers, to which various fruits, vegetables or fresh herbs are added. For example, you can indulge yourself with an apple and rhubarb or mango and mint chutney. Isn’t that inspiring?
Ideal for seasoning your pasta or topping pizzas, beet pesto also gives more colour to your meals. Between you and me, your mother-in-law's pickled beets will benefit from this new twist.
Homemade jams benefit from having a controlled sugar content. In fact, commercial formulas are often far too rich in added sugars. By preparing them at home, you can reduce the sugar while using seasonal fruits. Varying the fruits and seasonings provides a nice variety of flavours for the mornings to come.
Either way, if you have a significant amount of fruit or vegetables coming from your garden, educate yourself on how to prepare them. It's a safe bet that you will find an original way to can them.
Familiprix in collaboration with Hubert Cormier