Tuesday, January 17, 2012

tyranny ... meet urgency!

we are loving living in the Northern Rivers of NSW.  loving the way it is so easy to walk the path of fresh produce, community relationships and a sustainable lifestyle.  each saturday i head out to kyogle for their small, but amazingly wonderful farmers market.  heaps of fresh produce.  lots of choice.

therein lies my problem .... because everything is so fresh.  i find it impossible not to indulge my family in the fresh bounty that is available to us.  BUT .... but ... we are plagued with something in the air that makes fresh food go off .... FAST.  i understand why people keep so much stuff in their fridge!  it's the only way to make it last.

enter stage left my tyrannical urgency of learning to preserve.

i reckon it is the best way for me to continue to buy these great foods and not have them going to waste.  given that we live in a rental right now, it breaks my heart to watch the scrapes go out in the bin rather than feeding some hungry animal that will process the food back into the soil.

so one of my eventual resolutions for 2012 gets bumped to the top of the ladder ...

preserving food

i reckon this will take some real attention on my part.  i've never tackled this before and have been scared of it. hence my putting it up on my blog.  i want to be held accountable.  i want to buy all that yummy food at the markets and know that i can store and enjoy them another day .... not throwing them into a container and freezing them .... but storing them to preserve their goodness for another day, week or month.

i have no real idea of where to start.... except to begin with some google searches.  i know a few of the good blogs i follow do some preserving .... so i'll see what insights they have to offer.  but hold me accountable.  ask why you haven't seem a blog post.  school goes back on the 30th and i'll have no excuse not to give it some serious attention.

  • i need to get my hands on cheap jars.
  • is it all about jams or what about these stories i read about preserving veggies as well?
  • do i need new fangled equipment?

this is one blog post where i crave your feedback (well, i always do .... but this time especially!).  what is your favorite web site on the issue?  what about electronic pod cast resources that i can listen to?  anything to help me out!  <g>  please!!!!!!!



  1. The type of preserving that seems popular in Australia is water bath canning. This is the Fowlers Vacola style, suitable for high sugar and high acid foods like fruit preserves, pickles and some tomato products.

    This type of canning is not suitable for meat or vegetables, but with our climate we can grow a lot of things year-round, so there is no real need.
    In the USA, the popular methods is pressure canning. This uses essentially the same type of jars, but they are run through a pressure canner (a really big capacity pressure cooker), which kills the nasties that can cause serious illness like botulism. For this reason pressure canning is suitable for vegetables, meat and other low-acid foods. Some foods that are water bathed here are actually marginal foods. Tomatoes for example can be risky if the acidity isn't quite high enough, so it is recommended that citric acid is added to tomatoes if you are water bath canning.

    If you want an all-application solution, then pressure canning is the way to go. It is a ginormous pain in the neck though to have to pressure cook everything. In America, where in some places it snows for significant parts of the year, I can understand why preserving as many vegetables as possible is necessary, but I've decided as a beginner that water bath canning is fine to start with.

    You can pick up Fowlers jars second-hand on ebay at a reasonable price, and the preserving units themselves are commonly sold cheaply second-hand also. A pressure canner is going to cost you at least $200, possibly up to $300+ with postage (they are HEAVY).

    I would recommend buying jars and getting started on water bath canning - you actually can use a really large pot, you don't even need a special canning one. Later on you can decide if you want to move onto pressure canning.

    I hope that helps - I'm sure other people will have differing opinions, but that's where I've come to after doing my research. Now I just need to salvage my woeful tomato season and get on with the passata-making :)


  2. Hi Maggie,
    I am so envious of all the beautiful markets you have access to!! I have preserved tomatoes in things like relish and sauce and that is quite easy(and so much nicer than anything bought). If you mean things like fruit, I do know that Christine at Slow Living Essentials blog just loves her Fowler's vacola preserving unit and has done posts on it . I think if I had lots of fruit to preserve then I would use that.
    Let me know though if you want me to do a post on relish and tomato sauce.

  3. I have a BRILLIANT book - published by DK soil association. called: The Preserving Book by Lynda Brown. Brilliant - methods and loads of recipes, easy to follow. you could try the library or ebay.


  4. Also: I have just accessed free jars through 'freecycle.org' there should be a branch in your area as it is Australia wide. It's a recycline network where you can offer, request and take - stipulation is it must all be free. I put a request out for jars and containers and almost instantly I had people offering them to me. Any jar can be used to preserve as long as they are steralized (can be done in the oven on a low heat 120 degrees for 20min) and have a steralized and sealable lid. Second hand stores - lifeline, salvos etc are great resources for cheap jars.
    re-think, re-use, re-cycle.


  5. you guys r wonderful! thanks for ur info! yes kim...i would love a post on relish n tomato sauce! cool!

  6. did freecycle in the blue mtns. seemed to never b quick enuf to get what i wan4ed. there is a lismore branch.