I KNOW, ALL I TALK ABOUT IS VEGETABLES AND OTHER HOMEGROWN FOOD LATELY. It’s that time of the garden year. To sweeten the pot (and pay you back for your patience with my vegetable-garden monotone of late): two more copies of “Stocking Up,” Carol Hupping and the Rodale Food Center’s classic guide to preserving whatever you’ve got a taste for–or a glut of–are up for grabs. Want to win one?
Just jump in (down below in the comments) and tell me a tip, trick or insight you have to share about saving some kind of food for later use (or simply say hello; I’ll count your entry anyhow). Here’s mine:
I’m using Mason or Ball jars for freezing this year, gradually phasing out most of my plastic food-storage containers. That’s a frozen test jar up top of my first 2010-vintage tomato sauce (popped out of the freezer for a moment for its portrait).
Why this change?
I keep reading more all the time about food and their reactions to contact with various plastics. Apparently “plastics” is not exactly as exciting as it sounded at the graduation party for the character Dustin Hoffman played in “The Graduate” in 1967. Remember? A refresher:
Though none of my food containers bears a number 3 or 7 on the bottom, inside that familiar triangle of recycling arrows (3 being PVC, and 7 being the grab-bag category that often includes polycarbonate–both known problems), I figure glass feels better to me right now, anyhow.
We’ll see how I feel after trying to find room to store all the (um, non-stackable or nestable) glass jars when they’re empty, or whether I can really maximize my freezer space using them, the way I could with the box-like plastic bins. The glass jars’ rim shape also prevents that last-minute, “I forgot to defrost dinner” panic mode routine, when you can pop the frozen brick out of the plastic container with perhaps just a quick dunk in warm water.
Interested in the topic of safe food storage? There’s so much on the internet, but here’s a start: A thorough primer on kitchen plastics from Care2. Side note: The subject of canned food (as in, storebought in metal cans) and the presence of Bisphenol A (BPA) in those foods was raised in a flurry of perhaps not-so-new “news” about it this spring. Side note 2: I will still be using my recycled quart yogurt containers for soups and other volume items, at least for now.
The best news: I get to recycle, or at least reuse. My favorite brand of jarred organic salsa comes in Mason jars, so I’ve been saving them for this, and I have quite a lot of jars from years of pickling and jam-making, too. When you freeze in jars, just leave ample headroom for expansion of the liquid, and also so the food doesn’t touch the lid lining, which is coated with–yes–plastic. (I put a little–I know, here comes that word yet again–plastic wrap on top and closed the jar only loosely with this test run to see how much my sauce expanded when frozen, but out that will now come.) Wide-mouth jars (and especially straight-sided ones) are less apt to break than the ones with “shoulders” and narrow mouths; I’m experimenting.
How to Enter to Win ‘Stocking Up’
I’ll announce the two winners on Monday the 23d, drawn at random from among all your comments using the lovely free application at random dot org, the way I always do on book giveaways. Good luck–and now get out and pick those green beans and tomatoes and cucumbers and all the rest of it! Out I go myself…