Category Archives: Canning

Stop Apples from Turning Brown

How to Stop Fruit like Apples, Bananas from Turning Brown.

When making apple dishes or preserving apples, the first challenge is how do you stop them from turning brown and preserve their nice, white color. A very simple and easy technique will keep your apple preserves, salads and other desserts looking as fresh as when the apples were just sliced.

As you can see by our photo, apples will turn brown the minute air hits them. The apple core on the corer is already turning brown seconds after we sliced an apple. However, the slices in the bowl with the secret ingredient are nice and white and even after we put them on the dehydrator, the flesh is still nice and white. And it will stay that way indefinitely. The secret ingredient? Vitamin C powder.

Vitamin C powder and ascorbic acid are the same thing, and is used as a preservative in many commercial foods. When canning and making any kind of preserves, it is invaluable for preserving the color of foods that turn brown; not just apples, but bananas and any food that turns brown when exposed to air.

dehydrating applesHow to use Vitamin C as a preservative to prevent fruit from browning.

If you can buy Vitamin C in powder form, do what I do and keep it in a jar with a lid in your cupboard and use it just for such occasions as canning, dehydrating and making desserts. It doesn’t take much vitamin C powder to do the trick. If you can’t get it in powder form, you can crush up vitamin C supplements into a powder and use it that way. It’s not as convenient as the powder when you are making large batches of fruit for canning purposes, but it works just as well.

For Dehydrated Apple and Banana Chips:

Mix 1/2 tsp Vitamin C powder in about 2 cups of water in a bowl. Dip each piece of fruit into the C water for a second, coat both sides well, shake off lightly and use according to recipes or place on your dehydrator racks as is.

If your apples have already started to brown, sometimes just dunking them in this vitamin C wash will reverse it. No kidding.

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Dehydrating Foods

dehydrated_preservesDehydrated foods make great, healthy snacks, a convenient lunch or a vitamin-saving way to preserve foods.

Most commercially dried fruits and vegetables use sulfides and preservatives even on dried foods as a precaution. Many people have allergies to these preservatives and if you don’t want chemicals on your foods, you might consider dehydrating your own. Dehydrated fruits make excellent snacks as drying preserves almost all of the vitamins and nutrients of foods.

Dehydrating Basics: Clean and slice vegetables very thin. They will dehydrate better if cut into thin slices rather than chunks. Lay all the pieces out on racks in a dehydrator or use metal oven racks. Make sure none of the vegetable slices overlap or touch each other.

They must be completely dry before you store them or they will get moldy, so it’s better to over-dry them than not dry them enough.

If using an oven to dehydrate, you will have to get some very small-spaced metal racks or use cookie sheets and flip the produce on a regular basis until completely dry. Use a heat setting of 200 degrees or less. You want to dry it not cook it, or it will still rot and spoil. Dehydrators are not that expensive and well worth the investment. They will pay for themselves in no time.

dehydraterPeach or Apple Chips:

Rinse and clean fruit. Core or pit it but leave the peels on for flavor and nutrients. Slice thinly, about 1/8 inch thin or less. Arrange on dehydrator or oven racks and dry according to directions.

When fruit is dry enough to snap it in half and it is not rubbery or flexible, it’s dry enough for chips and to store for about 6 months in a glass jar with a lid.

Not only do these make tasty nonprocessed snacks, but you can add them to your homemade granola. Recipe is on page 122.

Banana Chips: Slice bananas 1/8 inch thick or less. Banana slices must be dipped in lemon juice to prevent them from browning while they dry. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice in a bowl and after slicing the bananas, drop them into the bowl to coat them. Then arrange them on racks for drying.

Dried Vegetables: Vegetables such as Okra, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions etc., can be preserved and used in soups, stews or other dishes. The best way to use them once dried is to either put them in a dish with enough liquid to re-hydrate them fully, or to soak what you need for a recipe for a couple hours to re-hydrate them before use.

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Spiced Apple Rings

These are a yummy, easy way to preserve apples that doesn’t take much work. If  you have an apple peeler/corer, it goes much faster and easier, but if you just make up a small batch, they are still worth the little bit of effort. This is one of the very few recipes where you don’t have to peel the apples.

apple-rings8-10 apples, cored and sliced into rings

1 tsp garam marsala

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup cranberry juice (for color) 4-5 whole cloves per jar

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan except the apples and heat to boiling. Let cool to room temperature. Using an apple peeler, corer, slicer is easiest, but you can core, peel and slice the apples by hand as well. Once they are sliced, peeled and cored, steam the apples for about 10 minutes just to soften them up a little but so they are not mushy and still hold their shape.

Then stack the apple rings in a wide mouth jar or put in a small bowl and pour the brine over them. Make sure the brine covers all the apples, cover and let sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of a week before eating. These will last in the frig for up to 3 months.

RAW DIET VERSION: Don’t steam the apples, use them raw. They will be a bit crunchier, but still tasty.

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Southern-Style Creamed Corn

creamed_cornTraditionally, this recipe is made with fattening lard, but our version is much healthier and doesn’t lose a bit of flavor.

1/2 cup organic half and half

1/2 cup water

1 tsp organic cornstarch (non-gmo)

6 ears of corn, shucked, stripped and scraped. Fresh is best but you can use 1 pound of frozen corn kernels as well.

2 Tbsp butter

sprinkle chipotle pepper seasoning to taste or use 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke.

salt and pepper to taste

Combine milk and water; whisk in cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Add corn and stir in Liquid Smoke or Chipotle and butter. Cook for about 15 minutes or until reduced and thickened. If you like creamy-style, take half of the corn mixture and put it in a blender. Pulse a couple times and return it to pan.

NOTE: If you will be canning this recipe, omit the half and half because it will make the sweet corn sour over time. When cutting the corn from the cob, get as close as possible to the cob, the juices from cutting it close with a knife will create it’s own cream.

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Refrigerator Pickles

Probably the easiest way to make pickles, but these pickles also have a unique taste that you cannot find in any store-bought pickles.

refrigerator pickles5 cups cucumbers (3 large) thinly sliced

1 medium onion (red onions are good)

1/4 cup salt

3-4 large sprigs fresh parsley

3/4 cup honey

1 cup red wine or apple cider vinegar

fresh ground pepper

Slice the cukes and onion and layer with the diced parsley in a large bowl or jar. Sprinkle with salt and add enough cold water to cover the cukes. Mix the salt around a bit and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

The next day, pour off about 1/2 of the salt brine and save the rest. In a medium saucepan, heat to boiling the honey and vinegar. Cool to room temp and sprinkle with about 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper. Pour over cukes and mix with the reserved salt brine. If  you do this in a large jar, it’s much easier because you can simply put a lid on the jar and shake it up to mix everything together and you don’t have to dirty an additional bowl. Cover and let sit in frig at least 1-2 weeks before enjoying. Stir or shake up occasionally. Will last in the frig for about 2-3 months.

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Super Bowl Best-Ever Salsa

This homemade salsa is not just flavorful, it’s full of vitamins.

salsa3-4 ripe tomatoes
14 oz tomato sauce
3-4 sprigs cilantro, basil or parsley 1/4 tsp chipotle
2 cloves garlic
3-4 green onions
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all above ingredients in a blender, making sure to put liquid foods in first, and just pulse until slightly chopped and well mixed together.

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Follow this online recipe book.

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Make Your Own Apple Butter

Apple Butter10 apples such as Granny Smith (cored and sliced – don’t peel, all the flavor and nutrients are in the peel.

1/2 cup honey or to taste (some people find apple butter is sweet enough without much sugar or honey, it depends on the type of apple you are using and your taste, but we find a minimum of 1/2 cup honey is a good place to start for any apple.

1/2 cup apple or cranberry juice

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Simmer everything in a pot until the apples are soft, most of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is thick and dark brown. Puree the mixture in a blender if necessary. Put in canning jars and process according to the directions for your canner or keep refrigerated and eat within one week.

Variations: Add your own special twist, such as adding cinnamon or ground cloves, another type of fruit such as peaches, or raisins.

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Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter and Apple Butter

How-to Make Crock Pot Pumpkin Butter and Apple Butter

Makes 6 cups.

Ingredients:

  • slow cooker pumpkin butter canned6-8 cups pumpkin puree (See our post on how to use fresh pumpkin in recipes)
  • 1 cup apple juice or apple cider or 2 cups fresh, diced apples, peeled is better tasting
  • 3/4 cup raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • a generous pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Add all of the ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir very well to combine. Cook for approximately 4-6 hours, or until thick (time may vary based on your slow cooker). You may have to stir it several times throughout the cooking process if it sticks. You don’t want it to burn. If it hasn’t thickened as much as you would like, take the lid off and let it cook a bit longer and it will reduce further.

Keep refrigerated for up to a month, or better yet, can it. If you are going to all the trouble to make it, it makes sense to make a big batch and preserve it by canning it.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter:

If you have an apple corer and slicer, you can make quick work of this delicious toast or bread spread.

  1. Place 10-12 large peeled, sliced or diced apples in a slow cooker. Add 1/2 cup honey if using sour apples.
  2. Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.
  3. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon if desired – or to taste
  4. Uncover and continue cooking if it still need to be thicker.
  5. Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate, freeze or can.

 

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