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Food Safety: Keeping Food Fresh Ideas relating to canning all types of foods, can also cover freezing for preservation, long term storage, avoiding spoilage and other safety concerns.

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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 08-16-2002, 04:33 PM
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Freezer life for veggies

Today I froze some yellow squash and zucchini from my garden. Does anyone know how long they will be good in the freezer? 6 months?

I too am getting away from blanching veggies too! I find they are better! Have you found this out too?

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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 10-27-2003, 02:42 PM
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Does anyone freeze cabbage? I bought to much as usual and now I need to do something with it. Can it be frozen whole or do I have to blanch or cut it up?
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Old 10-30-2003, 06:41 AM
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Freezeing Cabbage

Like lettuce you should not freeze cabbage. There is too much water in the leaves and it would not turn out right. You could blanch it first and then freeze it. Just keep in mind that it will be like frozen spinach. The texture not the taste. I do not know how you could use it after that. It would be better if you cooked in in recipes first and then froze it that way you would not have to think on how to use limp leaves. I hope this helps you.
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Old 10-30-2003, 11:46 AM
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Blanch Vegetables Before Freezing
Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist
Nodaway County Extension Center, University Outreach and Extension

Every fresh sweet corn season I hear people telling others how to freeze their corn by just putting in the freezer-and it tastes fresh. Well…here’s the rest of the story!

Unless you are freezing onions or green peppers, blanching is a must before freezing vegetables.

What is blanching and why is it a must?

Blanching is the scalding of vegetables in boiling water or steam. Blanching slows or stops the action of enzymes. Up until harvest time, enzymes cause vegetables to grow and mature. If vegetables are not blanched, or blanching is not long enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage causing off-colors, off-flavors and toughening.

If you spend the time growing the vegetables, pulling weeds, picking and preparing for the freezer, the blanching time may be regarded as a pain-but it’s necessary if you want fresh garden flavor later.

Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size of the pieces to be frozen. Under blanching speeds up the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Over blanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals.

The most convenient way to blanch vegetables is in a large kettle of boiling water. Allow one gallon of water per pound of vegetables. Bring the water to boil and lower vegetables into the water, allowing the water to continue boiling. Cover and start counting the blanching time. I like to use the side burner on my outdoor gas grill for this task. It keeps the heat and steam outside and my kitchen cool.

As soon as blanching is complete, cool the vegetables quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking process. To cool, drain the vegetables in a strainer, then plunge the vegetables into a container of ice water. Cool vegetables for the same amount of time as they are blanched.

Drain thoroughly and freeze.

How long do I blanch my vegetables?

The University Extension Guide Freezing Vegetables, GH 1503 gives more specific directions, along with approximate yields of frozen vegetables from the fresh quantity, a timetable for cooking frozen vegetables, and blanching instructions for vegetables from asparagus to zucchini (Summer Squash). Copies are available at your local extension center or you can view on-line at: <>

Here are a few blanching times for vegetables you may need over the next few weeks. The times listed are for blanching in boiling water. I keep a similar list slipped inside my cupboard for a handy reference.

Green Beans, 3 minutes
Broccoli, chopped or stalks, 3 minutes
Beets, small, 25-30 minutes; medium, 45-50 minutes
Brussels Sprouts, small, 3 minutes; medium, 4 minutes; large, 5 minutes
Carrots, tiny, whole, 5 minutes; diced or strips, 2 minutes
Cauliflower, 3 minutes
Corn on the cob to freeze on the ear, small ears, 7 minutes; medium ears 9 minutes; large ears 11 minutes
Corn on the cob to cut for whole kernel corn, 4 minutes-cool and cut from ear.
Corn on the cob to cut for cream style corn, 4 minutes-cool and cut from ear, scraping the cobs.
Greens like spinach, 2 minutes
Shelled Peas, 1˝ minutes
Snow or Sugar Snap Peas, 2-3 minutes
Summer Squash like zucchini, slices or chunks, 3 minutes; grated, 1-2 minutes.
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Old 10-30-2003, 05:01 PM
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Thanks I didn't know about the enzyme thing. I guess I'll make some coleslaw then cause I shredded the cabbage. Thanks again.
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Old 11-12-2003, 02:01 AM
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LoriMae, I just noticed you live in Portland. I am just across the river in Vancover. Hello, neighbor ! Hi everyone else,too !
I somehow had lost the address of this site. Sorry I missed your post about the cabbage.
I am a Master Food Preserver. I really enjoy canning. Fall is finally here, though and it gives more time to relax. Seems all the veggies come into season at once and take so much time. I am very thankful to have nice full cupboards of canned goods, and also lots of things in the freezer. I also dehydrated a lot of apples.
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Old 11-12-2003, 04:48 AM
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I love canning too. There is something very satisfying about putting up food.

I made applesauce, kiwi jam, mixed berry jam, peach jam, blackberry jam, canned tomatoes from the garden and made some pumpkin puree.

We only had tomatoes this year and they didn't seem to produce a well as last, need to amend soil I think.

2002, I made Dill pickles and Hot Dilly Beans. Also made salsa that year.

I didn't dry any apples but I wish I had cause they turned brown in the freezer. Oh, I also canned some apples too. I have an American Harvester Dehydrator that I don't use enough.

What is a Master Food Preserver? Is that with the site here or Wash. State?
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 11-12-2003, 10:36 AM
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Hi LoriMae,
Sounds as though you kept yourself busy with the canning. I also have the American Harvest dehydrators, the 500 watt ones. We dried about 70 lb. of apples this year. I put them in the freezer just because I think they stay fresher tasting even though dried. I am glad to have one of those mechanical apple peelers or I don't think I could have dried that many.
I have not tried any kiwi jam. I am sure it is wonderful ! Mango is one of my new favorites.
As for the Master Food Preserver, every county has an Extension Office as part of some government regulation. Some County Extension offices offer training to teach people about food preservatiion and food safety. In exchange for the classes, we are required to pay back the cost of it by volunteering so many hours. Not all states and counties offer this program, though. If you have a question about food preserving, there is a phone number listed in the phone book under Government agencies for the County Extension. Either one of the paid staff, or a trained volunteer, such as myself, will help answer your questions. There are lots of publications you can purchase from them for a small fee. The info is all USDA approved methods, and are the most up to date, safe recipes and methods for preserving. Canning recipes and methods are always being updated . The USDA does extensive testing as to the safety of home preserving methods.
Botulism can be a serious danger if low acid foods are not properly canned.
I am wondering about the pumpkin puree you mentioned. Is it canned or frozen? If it is canned, it would be considered one of those foods that is a danger for botulism. It is too dense of a product to be safely canned at home. Only chunks are recommended for canning in water. Also, tomato products are borderline acidic and must have enough added acid, in the form of bottled lemon juice or citric acid to keep them free from botulism.
The science of food preservation is fascinating to me. So many women love the malls , but give me a produce market, and I am so happy ! Do you go to the Barn on Sandy? They have such a nice produce market .
Also, the current copy of the Ball Blue Book has so many great new recipes. My husband loves the roasted red pepper spread. The Pecan Praline sauce is really wonderful,too.
Oh, I don't mean to bore you, as I said, I really love canning !
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Old 11-12-2003, 04:54 PM
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Well, the pumpkin puree started out as Pumpkin butter. I cooked it a long time in the oven but it never came to the consistancy that I wanted. So I put it in some canning jars and processed it for about 15 minutes.

I have the new Ball canning book. I like it a lot.

Yes, I go to the Barn, that's where I got most of my produce this year. I figured out that it was farther to drive out to Sauvie Isl. than the Barn and the Pumpkin Patch just hasn't had the produce they used to in the past.

I had thought of taking the training but then it came to the volunteering part and I'm not a people person. I'm a one on one type of person. I get like stage fright.
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Old 11-12-2003, 09:38 PM
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Laurie, I actually do not like crowds, and tend to be the same way as you. But, it is funny, I love doing the MFP volunteering. It has actually been very good for me. It is something I enjoy and feel comfortable with. I really enjoy helping people and like to see others gain confidence. It is a way to help people in so many ways, I feel. It is so rewarding to hear of peoples canning experiences, especially when they had never canned anything before. I have met a lot of nice folks,too.
Well, Laurie, perhaps you would like to check out the information on pumpkin butter. I am sorry to tell you this, but it can also put you at a risk for botulism. I would rather tell you than not warn you of the dangers and have you or someone you love become ill from it. Botulism is very serious. I will post the info and let you decide for yourself if you wish to consume your pumpkin butter.
The bad thing is , you can't see, taste or smell botulism. You can always boil the food for 10 minutes before tasting it to destroy any toxins.
This is from the MSUE website on botulism:


Growth of the bacterium CLOSTRIDIUM BOTULINUM in canned
food may cause botulism--a deadly form of food poisoning.
These bacteria exist either as spores or as vegetative
cells. The spores, which are comparable to plant seeds, can
survive harmlessly in soil and water for many years. When
ideal conditions exist for growth, the spores produce
vegetative cells which multiply rapidly and may produce a
deadly toxin within 3 to 4 days of growth in an environment
consisting of:

* a moist, low-acid food.
* a temperature between 40 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
* less than 2 percent oxygen.

Canning Pumpkin Butter and Mashed or Pureed Squashes
Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Extension Food Safety Specialist,
Department of Food and Nutrition

Document Use:

Home canning is not recommended for pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash. In 1989, the USDA's Extension Service published the Complete Guide to Home Canning that remains the basis of Extension recommendations today, found in the September 1994 revision. The only directions for canning pumpkin and winter squash are for cubed pulp. In fact, the directions for preparing the product include the statement, "Caution: Do not mash or puree."
In accordance with the USDA recommendations, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service does not have a recommendation for canning these products either. There are not sufficient data available to allow establishing safe processing times for any of these types of products. It is true that previous USDA recommendations had directions for canning mashed winter squash, but USDA withdrew those recommendations and any publications preceding the Complete Guide to Home Canning (September 1994) are considered out of date.

Some of the factors that are critical to the safety of canned pumpkin products are the viscosity (thickness), the acidity and the water activity. Studies conducted at the University of Minnesota in the 1970's indicated that there was too much variation in viscosity among different batches of prepared pumpkin purees to permit calculation of a single processing recommendation that would cover the potential variation among products (Zottola et. al, 1978). Pumpkin and winter squash are also low-acid foods (pH > 4.6) capable of supporting the growth of Clostridium botulinum bacteria which can cause the very serious illness, botulism, under the right storage conditions. If the bacteria are present and survive processing, and the product has a high enough water activity, they can thrive and produce toxin in the product.

More recent research with pumpkin butter has been done at the University of Missouri. Pumpkin butter is mashed or pureed pumpkin that has had large quantities of sugar added to it, but not always enough to inhibit pathogens. Sometimes an ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice is added to the formulation to increase the acidity (decrease the pH). However, pumpkin butters produced by home canners and small commercial processors in Missouri have had pH values as high as 5.4. In fact, the pH values seemed to be extremely variable between batches made by the same formulation (Holt, 1995).

It is not possible at this point to evaluate a recipe for pumpkin or mashed squash for canning potential by looking at it. At this point, research seems to indicate variability of the products is great, and in several ways that raise safety concerns. It is best to freeze pumpkin butters or mashed squash.
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