Germ Warfare – 3 Plus Recipes!

preparing to blanch
Preparing to Blanch Beet Greens

A friend and I were discussing blanching before freezing when she asked, “Do you have to?”

In an emergency, many foods you ordinarily would first prepare, you may freeze raw and untreated. Don’t expect them, though, to last over three months because blanching destroys the enzymes that induce ripening. Some vegetables, when not blanched, will continue maturing, though frozen. Unblanched okra, for instance, will become woody over time, in the freezer. So use these foods quickly. The foods must be perfect and unwashed. Freeze soft things before wrapping for protection from freezer flavors.

One friend only shells (does not wash) her surplus field peas and freezes them in one huge plastic bag. They separate easily. She measures, washes, and cooks as usual. She says they taste exactly the same but she does use the unblanched ones first.

I have found that you may treat the following produce this way if it has not been washed: whole tomatoes, whole apples, whole plums, whole carrots, whole peppers, edible pod peas, shelled field peas, and whole okra. All are for cooking only, except plums make good frozen treats. Be sure you remember you haven’t washed them before you use them.

The reasoning behind not washing vegetable before freezing is that they have a natural protective coating that helps ward off drying and if you freeze them wet, they will be impossible to separate for individual use. In the case of beans, this is not a factor, if you will immerse the entire package in warm water to rinse, later. Just think. If it is waxy, don’t wash it. If you want to freeze individually and bag later, it’s okay. Do not freeze anything with bad spots. How will you remove them once frozen? Just think. More info, starting here.

Two foods that you should always blanch and freeze are corn and greens. These two also taste pretty bad when canned, and take a lot of time and heat. One food that even the freezer books say we should not freeze is potatoes. I do not know why, because I have never tried it. I know, frozen potatoes are available in stores, but do they taste good? I’ve never tried them, either! Potatoes are best stored raw or canned.

To clean your kitchen after canning, just roll up the towels you used for covering surfaces, throw them into the washer and wipe the counter tops. You’re done! Then when canned foods are completely cool, remove bands and run the filled jars through the rinse cycle of your dishwasher. This removes the sticky film, from juices leaked in pressure cooking, which molds in the cabinets. These molds can enter the jar when you open it. They also make bad odors in your food storage area and attract bugs.

Now, DRUMROLL PLEASE, the real reason you read this far — The Recipes!

The following recipes come from several requests for instructions for making various sauces to use up excess tomatoes, etc. Also there are a few recipes for foods mentioned this week. Hope you enjoy making, storing, serving, and eating them as much as we do!

Homemade Mustard

1 3/4 c. white vinegar
2 onions chopped fine
1/2 c. mustard seeds
1/4 t. white pepper
2 t. soy sauce
2 T. white sugar
1 t. turmeric

Puree all ingredients in blender. Bring to a boil over low heat in a heavy pan, stirring continuously with a wire whip. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes. Seal in hot jars with hot lids. Place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Keeps very well.  Yield:  about one pint.

Homemade Catsup (not store bought!)

10 lb. ripe tomatoes
3 onions
2 bell peppers, red or green
1 clove garlic
3/4 c. brown sugar or honey
2” stick cinnamon
1 t. peppercorns
1 t. whole cloves
1 t. allspice berries
1 t. celery seed
1 c. cider vinegar
1 T. salt (opt.)
2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne

Puree vegetables in blender, OR:  chop, cook, and sieve them.  Bring  to a simmer.  Put whole spices into a bag and add all other ingredients.  Cook very slowly until very thick.  Remove the bag.  Seal in hot jars with hot lids.  Hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  2 – 3 pints.  This is a good recipe for the crock pot, if you keep adding the juice until all is cooked down.  It is too big for a crock pot at first, but becomes of manageable size eventually.  The actual cooking takes all day on the stove top.

Tomatilla Salsa (A great use for small green tomatoes from dying vines)

5 1/2 c. chopped tomatillas OR green tomatoes
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped jalapenos
(wear gloves and use ventilation!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. minced cilantro (opt.)
2 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne
1/4 c. lime juice OR 1 g vitamin C tablet

Bring all to a boil in a large pot.  Simmer 10 minutes.  Seal in hot jars with hot lids.  Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  about 2 pints.  I cannot over-emphasize the importance of being careful with fresh hot peppers! I have made this using a food grinder, too, and it is much easier on the hands and lungs. You can grind the whole cayennes if you like, and have interesting red flecks in this lovely green condiment. The flavor when raw is sublime, but HOT. After cooking, the natural burning flavors of onion and garlic will have sweetened, though, so do not be alarmed at the raw flavor — just enjoy.

Pico de Gallo Sauce

1 chopped onion
2 chopped jalapenos
3 chopped tomatoes
salt to taste
2 branches chopped cilantro (leaves)

Mix.  Refrigerate for 2 hours.  Serve with chips.  OR:  Boil for 20 minutes, seal in hot jars with hot lids, and place into boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  about 1 pint.

Pear Preserves

8 c. pears, peeled and chopped
2 c. brown sugar or honey
2 T. butter

Stir pears and sugar over medium heat until greatly reduced and thickened (2 to 4 hours).  Add butter and serve over ice cream.  OR:  Omit butter and seal in hot jars with hot lids.  Place in boiling water bath for 15 minutes.  Yield:  about 2 pints.  This is another good one for the crock pot.

Very Quick Blackberry Sauce

1 pint frozen blackberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
2 T. cornstarch

Place 1/2 c. of the blackberries with other ingredients into small saucepan.  Stir and bring to slow boil, mashing berries to color the sauce.  Simmer until very thick.  Add rest of frozen berries.  Sauce will set very quickly and be cool enough to use immediately, with all berries instantly thawed.  Delicious on cheesecake or pound cake.  This recipe will only work with berries that have been frozen raw and are fairly easy to separate.  Makes about 2 cups.  Serves about nine.  Also, try using 3 T. cornstarch to make a topping for a pie.

Potato Pancakes

1 qt. canned potatoes
1 egg
1/4 c. corn meal
1/4 c. self-rising flour
1/2 chopped onion (opt.)
salt and pepper to taste

Grate potatoes including skins into bowl.  Add rest of ingredients.  Stir well.  Fry in 1/2” medium-hot oil until well-browned and firm in middle, turning once.  Drain on paper towel.  Serve hot with honey, if desired.  Serves about six.

Never Fail Meringue

1 T. cornstarch
2 T. sugar
1/2 c. water
3 egg whites
6 T. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1/2 t vanilla

This is a little tricky to time perfectly, but worth it to me.  Cook cornstarch, 2 T. sugar, and water over medium heat, stirring, until thick and clear.  At the same time, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 6 T. sugar, salt, and vanilla, gradually.  Beat until stiff.  Continue beating while slowly adding hot cornstarch mixture.  Beat until stiff.  Apply to pie that has hot filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.   I like this one because I don’t feel so much as if I’m eating raw egg.

Published by Katharine

Katharine is a writer, speaker, women's counselor, and professional mom. Happily married over 50 years to the same gorgeous guy. She loves cooking amazing homegrown food, celebrating grandbabies, her golden-egg-laying hennies, and watching old movies with popcorn. Her writing appears at Medium, Arkansas Women Bloggers, Contently, The Testimony Train, Taste Arkansas, Only in Arkansas, and in several professional magazines and one anthology.

14 thoughts on “Germ Warfare – 3 Plus Recipes!

  1. I can’t grow anything but weeds and roses here. I lament this, because I read these posts and get all inspired and discouraged in one shot…

    1. Oh, poor Dear! I am so sorry! Is it the short season? The soil? There are tricks to growing it anywhere. Even here, we’ve learned so much, just an hour from where we used to grow, it is all different. Always an adventure.

      1. Honestly, I don’t know what it is. All of the above – we have terrible soil, a very short growing season, and very little water. I’ve tried a few times, with the help of someone who grows everything, but I’ve failed every time. I gave up a couple of years ago.

        1. So sorry. I know it saddens you, as it would me. We’ve had our disappointments, believe me! Our greatest challenge, these days, has been keeping the deer off. Honestly! They will eat a beautyberry bush in my front yard, in plain site and fully illuminated by our yardlight, rather than go across the street to eat the same bush growing in the wild, under cover, better watered, etc. We don’t want to be insane, but deer can make you that way! 😐

      2. Oh, ROSES! You can make rose honey and rosehip jam. Mmm. How about dandelion in salad, or cooked like spinach? Lamb’s quarters work that way, too. Oh, and there’s a sort of gooseberry-flavored pie made of wood sorrel . . . I think I’m getting hungry!

  2. Hello! Great to see you again! 🙂
    I think the whole world feels slack, lately. It might be a worldwide epidemic of the mully-grubs!!! Yikes!
    Glad you enjoyed the pointers. I love using the freezer for those days when it just is impossible to watch the canner. Although I canned 30 pints of beans for chili, this year, I also froze about a gallon in bags to be used first, because I simply could not be at home!
    Those are the exceptions, though. Good backup plan for those with young ones around. 😉

  3. I’ve had success freezing potatoes in mashed potato form. A month or so ago, we got a HUGE bag of new potatoes from a friend. I used what I could fresh, but they were starting to get a tiny bit soft. We don’t have a cool dark place to store things here, so I washed, peeled, chopped, and cooked the potatoes as I would if I were making mashed potatoes. I made them into mashed potatoes, but kept them a little thick (so I could add liquid later to freshen them up) and then froze it containers. It’s so easy to put a container in the fridge overnight, then defrost fully, put on the stovetop and add a little milk/cream/broth to get them to the right consistency and aid in cooking (need some liquid in the pan!) and have mashed potatoes that taste like I made them that day!

    Thanks for the tips. We purchased a chest freezer and will pick it up next weekend (!), and I’m SO excited to have space for discounted meats and veggies we get from our friends! My little freezer above the fridge is slam-packed… the ice bucket is full, too, so there’s no place to put the ice when it’s frozen in the trays!

  4. A freezer! Yay!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences with freezing COOKED potatoes. I suspect that is the trick. I think frozen, store bought, french fries taste good for two reasons:
    1. They are already cooked.
    2. We use them rapidly, from frozen to fried in a few moments.
    I am so glad your mashed potato experiments have worked well! Probably that saves on calories, too, if we don’t feel like we have to eat the last bit, but can freeze it. I would try piling a bit on top of another, frozen bit, until I had a full box.
    I know you will love your freezer! I hope it lasts for you as long as mine has (about 40 years!) 🙂 Does it have dividers in it? If not, use flattened cardboard boxes or foam board to allow several divisions for meat, baked goods, and veggies. That SO helps finding anything! 🙂
    Have fun!
    Love you!

  5. I truly love your hints and recipes. I had no idea you could freeze tomatoes and plums whole!!! Have not tried canning tomatoes, but will have to give that a shot at some point too… mouth is watering thinking about the blackberry sauce 🙂

    1. You may can whole tomatoes without a pressure canner! Just blanch, skin, and heat until totally cooked. They will smell like tomato soup! Then use a funnel and scoop into boiling hot jars and cap with hot lids. Just be sure all the chunks are cooked all the way through and they will keep as if they’d been pressure canned.
      Oh, also, they must be high acid content tomato variety, not the sweet ones. It’s the acid in the various fruits that make them safe to can this way.

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