What an amazing summer we have had! The fabulous weather has led to a bounty of tomatoes and for that reason, we are focusing on preserving tomatoes for this newsletter issue. However, as summer winds down, don’t be so taken with lovely weather that you forget to watch for rain and the first frosts. Your luscious tomatoes are begging to be picked and stored, making this the perfect moment to harvest them so you can enjoy them all winter long.
Now well into August, beans and zucchini are running wild in urban gardens and local farms. Both of these vegetables grow quickly, so knowing what to do with all this produce before it spoils is extremely helpful! Beans can be frozen or canned for enjoyment year round and are delicious when added to any meal. Dried zucchinis with seasoning make a delicious and healthy substitute for chips that get the “kid stamp of approval” at our house!
Preserving Low Acid Foods
While fruits and pickled vegetables preserve well using the hot water bath canning method, beans (and other vegetables) must be canned using a pressure cooker, in order to safely preserve them. This is due to the fact that vegetables are low acid foods, so they lack the acidic element of most fruits which creates an environment where bacteria and molds cannot grow. Therefore, beans require a heat of at least 116°C in order to properly eliminate the threat of botulism – a temperature which is not possible to reach in a hot water bath which only achieves boiling point temperatures for water (100°C). Learning to use a pressure canner properly is very important – be sure to consult your manual before using.