Cleaning the Food
Let’s start with root crops.
Ladies, if there is the least, remotest possibility that your potatoes, carrots, beets, etc., were grown in soil fertilized with commercial chicken manure, you really ought to hire the soil tested. The reason is that commercially grown chickens were, in the past, fed arsenic. It is harmless to them, even increases production, passing through the chicken, remaining in the droppings a long time, contaminating the soil.
It is fatally poison to humans. Cows have died from eating grass with arsenic laden soil clinging to it.
“They say” arsenic does not enter the plant, but it is imperative to remove ALL the dirt.
However, root crops will fail in raw storage, if you scrub them all nice and clean. So, do you bring arsenic into your root cellar? Do you scrub and can those veggies? You have to decide. Ask your County Extension Agent for free tests and pamphlets and the latest advice on these matters.
If your soil is O.K., you can do what I love doing—put the perfect potatoes and carrots, unwashed, into root storage and can the strange ones (the two-legged carrots and the potatoes with noses). Then as winter progresses and the cellar storage begins to dysfunction, can the things that are still good enough. You don’t lose as much in root storage, that way, but also don’t waste effort on unnecessary canning.
To can potatoes and carrots, most books tell us to peel them first. I just scrub my own home-grown veggies, because I like to eat the peel and it has many of the vitamins. First use a hose on them outdoors, to get most of the dirt. A patio or sidewalk is good for this. Then use a brush and clean water.
A friend of mine makes a few jars of diced potatoes all ready for quick potato salad or stew. I like mine as whole as possible for grating into potato patties. Canned carrots are best sliced, though I put up a few pints of tiny ones (fingerlings) whole. These I use for gifts or special company.
Wash ALL washable food before using. Think about using a little soap, too. Unscented home-style bar soap cleans apples, celery, potatoes, etc., just fine.
If this idea amazes you, think: who picked, wrapped, boxed, unboxed, unwrapped, and displayed your apple? You don’t know! Did any of these six people have a cold or the flu? Probably! Does the grocery store or produce truck have roaches? Of course!
Even if you grew the fruit yourself, never sprayed it, and picked it yourself, you can be pretty sure that your tree has ants, roaches, and at least two types of flies. They can spread disease; it’s a fact.
One favorite way to store many fruits is in jams. Apples and pears go into applesauce and pear sauce, which we use like jam, too. (Make pear sauce just like applesauce.) We can a few peaches and pears. Try pears with a 1/4” piece of ginger root in the jar. Pear preserves are a real treat over vanilla ice cream.
Also, freeze a few bags of slightly sugared, sliced peaches and use them for blender ice cream or shakes, which are easy to make with chilled milk and frozen fruit.
I freeze blackberries whole. Just wash, drain, and package.
When you wash small produce, such as peas or snapped beans, use two sinks. Scour sinks clean and fill with water. Add produce to one sink. Stir gently with your hands and then transfer from that sink to the other. Drain and refill first sink while stirring the other. Continue until used water is clear.
While you are transferring, try this method for estimating the jars you’ll need: pick up as much as you are able in a double handful; count it as about one pint.
Before I forget:
- Wash greens in the automatic washing machine.
- Use Vitamin C for fruit preserver. (One 500 mg tablet per gallon of water.)
Tomorrow: Special blanching tips and RECIPES
Photo credit: wikipedia