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It's that time of year when many of us in the Northern Hemisphere are scrambling to get our garden produce under control and preserved for the winter. Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere are just starting to dream of gardening.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to attend a talk given by one of our local Agricultural Extension agents and learned that I was probably not freezing and canning safely. If you are using recipes that are more than about 10 years old, then you too might be tempting fate. The varieties of fruits and vegetables that we buy today, even heirloom varieties, have different acidity levels than those used even thirty years ago. Thus older freezing and canning recipes have to be adjusted to meet current safety standards.
Because I was using canning cookbooks written in the late 1970s, and recipes from my grandmothers, I decided that it was time to update. One of the books the agent suggested was The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader, which I immediately went out and bought.
There is much to love about this cookbook, but the parts I turn to again and again are the charts. For example, there is chart that tells you how to prepare produce for freezing, one that tells you proper canning and freezing temperatures, and another that tells you which foods can be processed in a water bath.
The book covers canning, freezing, and drying and includes a description of each method, equipment, safety issues, and step-by-step directions. There are two levels of recipes: those for preserving and those that use the preserved produce. All the recipes I've tried, from soups to pickles to jams, have been successful both in taste and in preservation. We tend to like our food a bit spicier than the recipes in the book, but it's no problem to adjust the seasoning to our taste.
Here is a soup that I have made and frozen successfully. See my notes at the end.
Yield: 20 cups
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 6 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Pinch of sugar
- 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- Zest of 2 small orange
Add the tomatoes, stock, lime juice, and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Add the basil and orange zest.
Transfer the soup to a food processor and puree.
Cool. Ladle into two 10-cup freezer containers, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Chill in the refrigerator, label, and freeze for up to 3 months.
To use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and serve hot or cold.
Beth Fish's notes: I saute the onions in olive oil instead of butter and use less fat. I sometimes use vegetable broth to make it vegetarian. I've added hot chile peppers to boost the flavor. I always add black pepper. I freeze this in 5-cup batches because there are only two of us. I use an immersion blender instead of my food processor. When I serve the soup later, I often add leftover cooked vegetables, rice, or noodles.
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Published by Storey Publishing, 2002
Source: bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)