Friday, August 30, 2013
To Put By - An old deep-country way of saying to save something you don't use now, against the time when you'll need it.
Putting food by is simply food preservation. There is no hocus pocus about it, no touchstone, no luck, no mystery. Food preservation is the protection of food from spoilage - period.
By controlling and preventing spoilage - foods can be harvested in a time of plenty and treated to be wholesome and available in a time of need.
FIRST: Clean the food ridding it of external spoilers like dirt, blemishes or infestations.
NEXT: Treat the unseen causes of deterioration, chief among them being the enzymes - those remarkable substances programmed to make the food fulfill its ordained life cycle.
FINALLY: Deal with the bigger trouble-makers - the microorganisms that exist in the atmosphere and can cause spoilage.
For its effectiveness, canning relies on applied heat and the exclusion of air. Between them, these functions destroy the dangerous targeted things that cause spoilage or poisoning by driving out air from the contents - creating a vacuum that seals the containers against outside contamination during storage.
Beware of artificial sweeteners - sugar substitutes of an entirely different chemical nature. They should be considered sweeteners only because they will not perform the many other crucial functions that sugar does in many recipes.
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Above are excerpts lifted verbatim from the book, PUTTING FOOD BY: The classic work on the best ways to can, freeze, pickle, dry, cure and preserve.
This has become an invaluable reference during my recent canning/preserving practice. I'm also finding it to be an interesting tome on the alchemy of life.
But for now, it's back to the steamy kitchen. There's much to think about while tending to my boiling-water bath.