These days we don’t have to worry about preserving our food, as much of it is done for us already, like dried pasta or tinned tomatoes.
However, it is great to know how to do it in your own kitchen if you have an excess of something, such as feijoas. Stewing, bottling or turning them into jam is a great way to enjoy them long after feijoa season is over.
In order to preserve food you need to remove one or more of the factors that bacteria and fungi need to survive.
- Bottling: A sealed jar is heated to kill bacteria. When it cools, no more bacteria can enter. This is often used for vegetables and fruit.
- Cooling or refrigeration: The food is kept at a low temperature (below 5 degrees) so bacteria cannot reproduce. Foods such as milk or cream are often preserved in this way.
- Freezing: Bacteria cannot reproduce at low temperatures and the water in the food is frozen. Freezing acts like a pause button on food.
- Drying: Removing water prevents microorganisms from growing. This works well for foods like pasta and mushrooms. Some people use dehydrators to do this.
- Adding salt or sugar: This removes water by osmosis and is how jam works.
- Adding vinegar: This changes the acidity level to prevent the enzymes in microorganisms from working. Pickles and chutneys are a great example.
Making jams and chutneys
Many people think making jam is difficult but it is actually very simple if you know what to do.
Basic Jam Recipe
1 kg fruit (remove bruised or damaged bits and peel, core or stone as necessary. Weigh after prepping)
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Prepare the fruit and chop reasonably small. Put into a large preserving pan with water and lemon juice. Cook on a low heat until the fruit is soft. If necessary, blend the fruit to remove large pieces.
2. Add the sugar, stir to dissolve it and then increase the heat and bring to the boil. Stir frequently and boil until a small amount of jam gels when put on a cold plate for about 5 minutes.
3. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and seal with sterilized lids.