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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Preserving

Last year we had a few spare Capsicum and tried a preserving recipe. During Winter wanting some filling material for a pizza we tried the preserved Capsicums. To our pleasure they were surprisingly flavoursome. It was a simple preservation recipe which did not use excessive salt, vinegar or sugar leaving the preserve tasty straight from the jar.


Capsicum
One of the issues with many preserving recipes is the excessive use of sugars and salts or vinegars. We have tried to eliminate the use of sugar in our diet and now limit ourselves to a little honey in homemade chocolate. Salt is a bit easier to handle as a period of soaking prior to use can reduce the salt content. We do this with Haloumi. Vinegar can be pleasant in small quantities but not so when excessive and is harder to remove.


Eggplant
We could freeze produce but there is a limit to the number of freezers that we want to operate at any one time. We already run two chest freezers and have a backup but not in use upright freezer (which is inefficient despite being reasonably new). As well as our kitchen refrigerator we have a cheese fridge in the Cave and a backup freezer/fridge which is used for garlic, butter vulnerable seeds, chilling bulk milk and various other functions including drinks. It came from a relatives estate and is highly efficient. More than enough electricity usage for one household.

Apart from energy usage freezers demand dependence on the grid. Not an attractive feature for preparedness minded people.

Anyway back to the main topic. Some time ago we came across this book via a friend and found it very good. Excellent, simple preserving recipes that produce a good result. Highly recommended.

Pietro Demaio's Preserving the Italian Way


Part of the recipe we used calls for cooking the vegetable in vinegar of which we have loads. A by-product of wine making is occasionally you have a bottle or two that doesn't work out. We keep a few flagons in the laundry with cotton wool stoppers and tip the wine into those. Every now and then when we remember some of the flagon material is decanted into bottles and stored in the cave. Mostly it's red wine vinegar but apart from imparting a little colour it works just as well as white vinegar.

Red Wine Vinegar

7 comments:

  1. On preserving without vinegar, have you tried fermenting - a process something like sauerkraut? Basically you preserve in water, maybe with a little salt, and allow natural lactic acid bacteria to form lactic acid instead of you adding acetic acid. It is similar bacteria that are in cheese and yogourt. I'm no expert myself but have tried it once and eaten such vegetables at friends place who do nothing else. I could find more details if you like. The Korean speciality Kimchee is made this way I believe.
    David

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    1. Hi David, Some things work well with fermentation. When there is an excess of Cabbage we make both Kim Chi and traditional Sauerkraut. With our climate we keep these refrigerated and they last for many months. Haven't tried sealing them and not refrigerating though but that is something you have just made us think about. Neither of us thought about doing Capsicum that way either but worthy of some investigation. Thanks.

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  2. It sounds really interesting. Would you be able to post the recipe you used.

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    1. Hi Fiona, It is a simple formula. 50/50 vinegar and water brought to the boil. The Capsicums were in strips no bigger than 3 cm and the eggplant in cubes or strips again no bigger than 3 cm. The vegetable is dropped into the boiling liquid. Allow the liquid return to the boil and then hold like that for 2 minutes. Any longer and it may become too soggy. Drain and pack the vegetable into jars and fill the jars with Olive oil. We added Bay leaves to the Capsicum and Bay leaves and Garlic Cloves to the Eggplant. The recipe doesn't specify that the Garlic or Bay gets boiled with the vegetable but we did that rather than risk it going off. We used the same liquid for both vegetables as the batches were quite small.

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    2. Thanks for that I will give it a try.

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  3. When I do carrots I use 2 or 3 parts water 1 part vinegar and a little sugar. Then I pack the jars with raw carrots cutting the bigger ones lengthwise and a bit of garlic. Then I boil my vinegar/water and pour it into the jars. Then I give a minute or two in the microwave and seal the jars immediately. Never had a problem and the carrots come out nice and crisp.

    David

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  4. Hi David,

    That sounds easy, I'll give it a go.

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