Tag Archives: food preservation

Preserving Herbs: Basil Pesto and Garlic Scapes

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This is going to be a quick post because we’ve just been so busy this summer, I haven’t had time to post, but I thought it was worth sharing.  Sorry, I don’t have step by step pics but it was pretty easy so hopefully you’ll get the gist.

Herb Preservation – Part 1 – Garlic scapes:  I planted a ton of garlic last fall, and got a Walmart shopping bag full of scapes once I cut those off.

To preserve them, I stuffed the whole lot into my food processor with a little extra virgin olive oil (highly technical, I know).  I don’t have an exact amount of either, nor do I think you need one.  I added olive oil as I needed to, as they were processed in the machine.  I ended up with a thick garlic scape paste.  I put into ice cube trays, and froze.  Once they were frozen, I popped them out of the trays and stored in a large plastic bag.  This way, I can add them to soups or other dishes.  I think I’ll also try to thaw them and see if I can use in salad dressings.  Maybe they’ll be too wilty, but it’s worth a try.

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Herb preservation Part 2 – Basil Pesto:

I gave my basil a haircut last weekend and got all of this:

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And this is how I made my pesto:

4 c. packed basil

2-3 cloves garlic

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (I added a little more as needed)

1/4-1/2 c. cheese (I used Organic Valley raw sharp cheddar, I did not grate but cut in smaller pieces)

1/2 c. walnuts

Process in blender.  It takes a little while to get it all blended, and you will have to stop your blender often to pack it down again and/or mix it up.  I did a batch at a time, and I had enough for 6 pints.  Store in freezer.  I made sure to leave about an inch or so head room to allow for expansion when frozen.   I took a picture of the end results and it was lopsided and I had a big mess in the background, so I decided to skip it. 🙂  The pesto was beautiful, anyhow.   You’ll just have to take my word for it. 🙂

 

 

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Home Canned Red Hot Sauce (GAPS, GF)

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This was a project from last weekend and it turned out good.  The motivation was to make this Buffalo Chicken Pasta dinner….YUM!

This recipe is adapted slightly from the Ball Blue Book canning guide.  I swapped out honey for sugar.  I was looking around online for a guide to canning with honey and found this.  Take a look at this if you would prefer to can with honey – sometimes you need to decrease liquid in some circumstances and it isn’t a “cup for cup” thing.

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Red Hot Sauce (GAPS, GF)

2 quarts chopped, peeled, cored tomatoes (about 12 large)

1 1/2 cups chopped and seeded hot red peppers (about 24)

1 quart vinegar, divided (I used apple cider vinegar.  I will note that you should label read because on my first trip to the store, I ended up with apple cider flavored vinegar with lots of extra unwanted stuff in it.  Hence, the second trip back to the store.)

7/8 c. honey

1 T. salt

2 T. mixed pickling spices

Combine tomatoes, peppers and 2 cups vinegar in a large sauce pan.  Cook until tomatoes are soft.  Press through a sieve or food mill.  Add honey and salt, Tie spices in a spice bag and add to tomato mixture.  Cook about 30 minutes or until thick.  As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.  Add remaining 2 cups vinegar.  Cook until as thick as desired, about 30 minutes. Remove spice bag.  Ladel hot sauce into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.  Adjust two-piece caps.  Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Yield:  4 half pints.

If you’ve never canned before, I’d recommend that you get the Ball Blue Book.  It has a lot of good tips.  Just a couple of notes if you don’t have it on hand would be to boil your lids before use.  I have a magnet stick that I got with a canning kit to fish them out of the boiling water, and I wipe them dry.  Make sure you wipe the rim of the jars clean before putting the lids on.  I don’t have a fancy pan for canning, or even a canning rack.  I have a cheapy $5 Kmart enameled stock pot that works great.  Another tip – if you don’t have enough jars in it to safely pack it so stuff isn’t banging around – add pint jars filled with water to take up that room.  And make sure you hear the little “ding” from your jars sealing.  A sealed jar will have an indentation in the top.  If you don’t hear the “ding” or see the indentation, either put it in the fridge for more immediate use, or reprocess it for the recommended time.

I will add that I neither peeled nor seeded the tomatoes (I did seed the peppers), nor pressed it all through a sieve.  I had a lot of different projects going on at the same time, so I just cooked it down some (for awhile, like 30-45 minutes), took out the spice bag and used my immersion blender on it, and cooked it down some more.  Seeds do not bother us but if they bother you, take them out.  It also seemed like it took longer to cook than their directions say, but perhaps it’s because I made the recipe slightly bigger.   Just watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, and stir often.

*****Just a reminder that it is always a good idea to wear rubber gloves when dealing with hot peppers, to avoid burning your hands (or eyes, lips, or whatever else you happen to touch!)*****

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday;

Food Dehydrating

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Before we started the GAPS Diet, we got an Excalibur dehydrator – mainly for making yogurt at that point.  Best big ticket kitchen item purchased yet, and I’d do it again except I’d get the 9 tray instead of the 5 tray.  I make jerky, yogurt, dried fruit and veggies, and I also use it to dry nuts after they have been soaked/sprouted.

The booklet that comes with it is very helpful, and when in doubt, I Google.

Anyhow, the garden has been producing well, and I like to buy bulk at the local farmer’s market too for this purpose.  (If you get to know your farmers there, they may be willing to save things for you in bulk at your request!)  I’m not doing a “how to” – you can get all that from the info book that comes with your dehydrator.  More like an “inspirational” to show the positives of this type of food preservation.

I should add that we have recently been on a pineapple and kiwi dehydrating kick (peel/slice each thinly to dry and follow manufacturer’s guide for times/temp).  My kids each picked one for the county fair/4H exhibit, and they were not only unique, they were YUMMY.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve done in the past week.  I also did a bunch of leeks (which dry beautifully), and have green bell peppers drying right now.  These are great for tossing in soups and stews throughout the winter.

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I also do a “greens powder” that is great for smoothies and spaghetti sauce.  I filled my trays with kale (or dandelion greens, turnip greens, whatever you’ve got), dried it thoroughly, stripped the leaves off the tough stems and ran through my coffee grinder until it’s a fine powder.  I am not that creative on my own, but I sincerely cannot remember what blog I saw it on.  Anyhow, it’s not my own creation but I love it.  I just did this one last week.  It doesn’t make alot per batch but a little goes a long way.

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As shown, I store my dried goods in mason jars.  I do put in one or two oxygen absorber packets (available on Amazon).  Because I’ve been drying a little more this summer, I have been thinking of getting some smaller Mylar bags (also available on Amazon) but have not gotten that far yet.  From what I have read, items generally keep a year.  Follow good common sense – if it looks bad or smells, throw it.  Last summer I had some onion that didn’t dry right and it was visibly not ok.  Otherwise, I tend to use these veggies, including the leeks and peppers in soups, chili, etc.   I just throw them in and they rehydrate right in the soup.  Nice to have a little summer in your food year round. 🙂

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays;