Preserving Vegetables for Winter Use
The beans maybe either french or runner beans. Leave whole or slice, according to size. The salt must be good-quality block salt and ground down before use. Weigh beans and salt in order to get the right proportion of each. Failure to do this may mean that the beans will not keep. Use large earthenware or glass jars, or small crocks with lids.
To use the beans, wash 5 or 6 times in cold water. Then pour on scalding hot water and leave to soak for about 1-1/2 hours, not longer. Rinse again, put into boiling unsalted water and cook until tender, for about 30 minutes. Drain and add a good lump of butter.
If you wish you may add a good pinch of bicarbonate of soda to the cooking water.
To 3 lb. of prepared beans take 1 lb. ground block salt. Wash beans thoroughly, dry, top and tail, and string if necessary. If tender, snapin two or three pieces; if they are small, leave whole. Slice runner beans.
Have ready the jars or crock, put a layer of salt in the bottom, about 1/2 in. Cover with the prepared beans, scatter over a layer of salt and continue until all the beans are used. Finish with a layer of salt. Cover with a plate and leave for 48 hours, pressing down occasionally as the beans shrink and become wet. Then fill up with more beans and salt in proportion, always leaving with a layer of salt on top.
When the jars are full (and this is important), tie down securely with three layers of greaseproof paper.
The beans should keep sweet and good for several months.
Sauerkraut is cabbage preserved partly by salting and partly by fermentation. The hard white cabbage is the most satisfactory.
Trim the cabbage, cut into four, remove most of the hard stalk, then cut down into very fine shreds. Pack into a large stone crock or wooden tub in layers with salt, in proportion, not more than about 2 to 3 oz. per 5 lb. Cabbage. Cover the top with cabbage leaves, press down well. Cover with a piece of muslin and put a wooden board on the top with a heavy weight on it. Leave in a warm place between 70 and 78° F. (21 and 25° C), for 2 to 3 weeks to allow fermentation to take place. Drain off the liquid. If the sauerkraut is not for immediate use, pack into bottling jars when all fermentation has ceased, and sterilize for 40 minutes with the lid on the pan and the bottles well screwed or clipped down. Keep in a cool place till required.
To every 4 lb.add 1 chopped onion, 1 clove of garlic, 3 large sprigs of parsley, a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf, salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Wash, cut in half and put into a preserving pan with the onion, garlic and tied together. Heat on a slow fire, bruising well with a wooden spoon. When a pulp forms add seasoning to taste, but do not season too highly as the reduction will concentrate the flavour. Continue to simmer for a further 45 minutes or until the whole mixture is very soft, then rub through a nylon sieve, first removing the herbs.
Put the pulp back into the cleaned pan and boil, stirring frequently until well reduced. Pour this into hot small jars with screw-top lids (honey jars are suitable for this), then sterilize them for 45 minutes.
The jars must be stood on the stand in the bottom of the sterilizer or on a piece of wood or wire at the bottom of a pan. Fill with water two-thirds of the way up the jar, cover the pan, bring slowly to the boil and boil gently for the time prescribed.
When there is a glut of apples, plums or pears, it is of great advantage to dry them, as they take little room to store and are cheap to prepare. The equipment required is simple, the most essential being wooden frames over which butter muslin can be stretched, and an even source of heat such as an oven, airing cupboard, etc. An oven thermometer also ensures success.
The trays are made simply by nailing four pieces of wood together to form a square which will fit into the oven, and stretching pieces of butter muslin or cheese cloth over and tacking them down. For apple rings, bamboo canes, which will also fit into the oven, are needed. Sliced apples can be dried on the muslin.
Apples, pears, plums are the most suitable for drying. The fruit should be perfectly sound and quite ripe.
To prepare: For apples—peel, core and cut into rings about 1/4 in. thick, or quarter and cut into thick slices. Drop them at once into slightly salted water—1 tablespoon to 1 qt. water—to prevent discoloration.
Treat pears in the same way but leave in quarters.
For plums—either leave whole or cut in half and remove stones. Remember that fruit shrinks very much in drying, so choose the large, firm, fleshy type of plum. If left whole and dried a little more slowly, they will resemble prunes and are delicious. After blanching, dry thoroughly in clean cloths, thread apple rings on to the canes and arrange the sliced apple and pears on the muslin trays close together, but not touching one another.
Arrange plums in the same way. Place trays or canes in the oven, having first got it to the required temperature.
To dry: The most important part of this process is that the heat should be very gradual, otherwise a skin will form on the outside and so harden the fruit. In the case of plums, too much heat would cause the skins to burst. The temperature for drying varies from about 120° F. (49° C), to about 145° F. (63° C). Always start at the lowest temperature and keep at that for the first hour, then increase to 140° F. (60° C.). Keep at that temperature until the fruits are dried; this will take from between 3 to 6 hours, according to the size of the fruit. Oven temperatures are more easily controlled than those of an airing cupboard etc.
The fruit when properly dried should be soft, pliable and springy in texture. No excess moisture should be present when the fruit is pressed, though the fruit must not be dry and brittle in any way.
To condition: After drying, the fruit must be conditioned by being spread out on clean paper to cool. Cover with muslin or paper and leave in a dark, cool place for 12 hours. Turn the fruit over two or three times during this period.
To store: Pack carefully into glass jars, clean biscuit tins, etc. Ensure that these are completely air-tight by using a screw-type lid on the jar, or sealing round the tin lid with adhesive tape.
Store in a very dry room or cupboard.
Foods for deep freezing may be divided into two categories:
(a) Foods already cooked, either specially prepared for freezing and use at a later date or any left-overs.
(b) Raw foods, and garden produce.
All foods for deep freezing should be prepared and packaged in polythene bags, cartons or containers made specially for the purpose, with liquids and sauces in cartons.
Garden produce should be frozen as soon as possible after gathering. Broad, french and runner beans, peas and leaf spinach freeze well. All vegetables should be blanched before putting down bythe washed and prepared vegetables into fast boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then draining and holding them under running cold water for 2 minutes.
Drain again before packing into boxes or bags.
Spinach is especially good if cooked and pureed before freezing and is economical of space.
Fruits, such as raspberries,and peaches, should first be moistened with a cold heavy syrup—10 to 12 oz. sugar to 1 pint water, according to the acidity of the fruit.
If space is short, stone fruits, gooseberries, plums and damsons are best made into a well-sweetened puree before freezing in cartons. Otherwise they may be moistened with the syrup or just prepared and packed dry into boxes and then stored in the deep freeze.
PACKING INTO THE FREEZER
Remember to put heavy foods at the bottom of the freezer and to be as economical of space as possible.
Special racks are available to fit into the freezing compartment and instructions as to de-frosting are usually given with the freezer.
VARIETIES OF VEGETABLES FOR DEEP FREEZING
Broad Beans: Green Longpod; Masterpiece
French Beans: Masterpiece; Granda
Runner Beans: Streamline; Cookham Dean Improved
Broccoli: Green Sprouting Calabrese
Brussels Sprouts: Cambridge Special; Irish Glacier
Carrots: Early Horn; Amsterdam Forcing; Chantenay Red Core
Peas: Kelvedon Wonder; Early Onward; Onward; Raynes Park
Spinach: Goliath; Perpetual
Sweet Corn: Early Golden Market
CRYSTALLIZATION AND PRESERVATION OF FLOWERS AND FRUIT
True crystallization ofand the candying of fruit is a skilled and long process involving the use of specialized equipment. A quick, attractive method can, however, be used at home for certain flowers and fruit. These can be used for cake decoration, but they will not keep as long as the bought varieties.
CRYSTALLIZED VIOLETS, PRIMROSES OR LILAC BLOSSOMS
Choose perfect flowers that are quite dry and clip the stalks neatly near the back of the flowers. Take a little slightly beaten white of egg and brush the petals front and back using a very fine paint brush. Dust and roll gently in fine caster sugar. Place on tissue paper. Spread on a wire cake rack. Leave to dry in a warm kitchen for about 12 to 24 hours. Pack carefully between layers of tissue paper in an airtight tin.
Red currants and strawberries can be crystallized in the same way, but these must be eaten within 1 or 2 days.
Fresh, tinned or frozen pineapple can be candied quite successfully at home and is useful to store for cake decoration.
Place the sliced pineapple in a large frying pan and just cover with a sugar syrup made with equal quantities of sugar and water. Place over gentle heat and cook very slowly for about 2 hours. When the pineapple is ready it should look almost transparent and this will only happen if the fruit is cooked the whole time well under boiling point.
If the syrup boils the pineapple will caramelize and become hard.