Pressure Canning Safety Tips

To most people these may look like simple jars of home-canned pinto beans, but to me these beans are much more.  These jars celebrate an anniversary of sorts.  More importantly they are a symbol of my own courage and strength; and a reminder of  important lessons learned.  Too much for a pint of pintos to carry?  You may feel differently when you hear the whole story.
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Forty-eight cobs of corn!

That’s a lot to eat at one sitting. Looking for ways to preserve this wonderful sweet corn for when it’s out of season? Freezing it, on and off the cob, is an easy way to save the harvest.

Corn, and most fruits and vegetables, has enzymes that destroy the nutritional value and change the flavor of the kernels in your freezer. If you plan on eating your frozen corn within two months this is not too much of a problem, but I find that unblanched corn tends to get mushy when cooked. Blanching, which is simply plunging your corn into boiling water for a bit, is an easy way to destroy the enzymes that may turn your sweet corn into starchy corn.
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Pantry Essentials

I have been participating in Bountiful Baskets for almost three years now. For my family it is not just a way to get our produce; it has become a lifestyle. We are more educated, healthier, and have more opportunities to serve because of this program. I have noticed that even my cabinets have made some changes. Processed, metal cans have been replaced by self-filled glass jars. A filled-to-the-brim fruit basket take the place of plastic-wrapped snacks. And the pantry now stays stocked with my arsenal of ingredients essential to successful BB cookery. That is probably one of the most valuable lessons I have learned. With a full spice cabinet and some fresh BB ingredients, I can whip up a quick meal the whole family can enjoy. Here are a few of my kitchen essentials:
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Produce Storage

Refrigerate whole for up to two weeks.
Store upright in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with either an inch of water or with a damp towel wrapped around the base, just like you would have flowers in a vase. They’ll last three to four days that way.
Ripen on the counter. Can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days once ripe.
Store on the counter.  To ripen place in a brown bag in a warm location (on top of fridge works!) with a couple apples.  To slow ripening separate the bunch and store away from other fruit.
Remove green tops an inch or two above the crown. Refrigerate beets in a plastic bag to prevent moisture loss, which leads to wilting. (They’ll last seven to 10 days.) Refrigerate greens separately, also in a plastic bag.
Grower Driscoll’s recommends refrigerating berries, unwashed and in their original container. Blueberries and strawberries should keep for five to seven days; more fragile raspberries and blackberries up to two days.
Refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag. It’ll keep for three to five days.
Refrigerate in a sealed plastic bag for up to three weeks.
Refrigerate, stem side down, in a sealed plastic bag. It’ll last three to five days.
Refrigerate one to two weeks in a sealed bag. Keep in the front of the refrigerator, where it’s less apt to freeze.
Citrus fruits
Store oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit on the counter. They can last up to two weeks.
Refrigerate ears still in the husk. They’ll last up to two days.
Refrigerate, either in the crisper or in a plastic bag elsewhere in the fridge. They’ll last four to five days.
Store in the pantry, or any similar location away from heat and light. It’ll last up to four months.
Green beans
Refrigerate in a plastic bag for three to four days.
Green onions
Refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Fresh herbs can last seven to 10 days in the refrigerator. “When I use fresh herbs and store them in my refrigerator at home, I keep them in air-tight containers with a damp paper towel on the top and bottom,” says Raymond Southern, the executive chef at The Back Bay Hotel in Boston. “This keeps them fresh.”
Leafy greens
Refrigerate unwashed. Full heads will last five to seven days that way, instead of three to four days for a thoroughly drained one. Avoid storing in the same drawer as apples, pears or bananas, which release ethylene gases that act as a natural ripening agent.
Take out of the package and store in a paper bag in the refrigerator, or place on a tray and cover with a wet paper towel. They’ll last two to three days.
Stored in the pantry, away from light and heat, they’ll last three to four weeks.
Ripen on the counter in a paper bag punched with holes, away from sunlight. Keep peaches (as well as plums and nectarines) on the counter until ripe, and then refrigerate. They’ll last another three to four days.
Store on the counter, ideally, in a bowl with bananas and apples, and then refrigerate after ripening. They’ll last another three to four days.
Refrigerated in a plastic bag perforated with holes, they’ll last three to five days.
Refrigerated, they’ll last four to five days.
Store them in the pantry away from sunlight and heat, and they’ll last two to three months.
Refrigerate. They’ll last 10 to 14 days.
Summer squash
Refrigerate in a perforated plastic bag. They’ll last four to five days.
Spread them out on the counter out of direct sunlight for even ripening. After ripening, store stem side down in the refrigerator and they’ll last two to three days.
Tropical fruit
Mangoes, papayas, pineapples and kiwifruit should be ripened on the counter. Kat Bretcher of Cottonwood, Ariz., ripens mangos in a paper bag in a cool place, and then refrigerates them for another two to five days.
Kept at room temperature on the counter, it’ll last up to two weeks.
Winter squashes
Store on the counter for up to two weeks

Canning and Bountiful Baskets

I am thrilled that Jeanne Gibbons, who participates with Bountiful Baskets in Arizona, is willing to share her experience with us when it comes to food, and especially, canning. Jeanne is a fount of knowledge when it comes to food preservation, which she often shares on our Facebook page. Without further ado:

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Where Do Abandoned Baskets Go?

One of the saddest phone calls I get as an area coordinator is from a VSC reporting that someone hasn’t picked up their produce within the pickup window.  Our awesome VSCs make every effort to call and try and reach participants to ensure they receive what they contributed for, but sometimes things happen.  Per the co-op policies unclaimed produce is donated to a local fire station to support the fire fighters there.
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Where does Bountiful Produce come from?

If you look out your window and there is snow covering the ground, or you note that your plants are withering in 115 degree heat we probably are not getting a lot of produce from where you are right now. Does that mean never? No… That means not right now. It’s not harvest season in your neck of the woods right now. So where does Bountiful food come from?
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