book giveaway, and my new old love: glass

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’

POST A COMMENT (preferably a tip or an “aha” about the subject of putting food up–or container and plastics for that matter, but a plain old hello will do, too) by midnight Sunday, August 22.

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…

Categoriesedible plants
  1. Whew! I just made it! HELLLLLLOOOO! I’m living in Sydney Australia at the moment (husband is in the navy) but in about a year and a half we will be retiring and coming back to the States to start our new life in the civilian world. We are looking forward to buying some land and gardening on the larger scale vs what I have been doing in back yards across the world. I have never canned as of yet but it’s on the list of things to learn. My grand parents fed a family of 5 all by themselves and I see no reason why we can’t either. Especially with today’s technologies. It would be nice though to also know the old ways, to know where I come from. :-)

  2. Toni says:

    I’ve just discovered your website, via a Google search for Brian Capon’s Botany for Gardeners. (What a fabulous book! – it will be recommended reading for the Landscape Horticulture curriculum I am updating.)

    Anywho — I’d love to win your Stocking Up book. My husband has built a rather substantial root cellar this summer and is almost done. Now, it’s my job to fill it! I’m not new to canning, having helped my Mom some 3-4 decades ago, but I could REALLY use a refresher!

    I’m adding your site to my Favourites — thanks and keep it up!


    1. Margaret says:

      ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED. Before I pick a winner at random, using the random dot org tool, some additional welcomes for people whom my dashboard tells me are first-time commenters:

      Hello to Jessica, Momchelle, HeatherS, Kristina, Cindy, Catchy, Dawn, Leslie, Emily, Margo, Bet, Jenny C, Vanessa, Tanya, Teresa, Toni, Joyce, Megan, Connie, Barbara and Cassandra. Hope you all will chime in regularly; nice to “meet” you.

  3. Marguerite says:

    Just got around to reading this and I wanted to share my own experience with freezing in mason jars. I froze some split pea soup in some leftover jars from other food and in a couple of quart sized mason jars. When I took some of the mason jars out of the freezer and set them on the counter in preparation for moving them to the big freezer in the basement, one shattered. I was shocked and rather annoyed at the loss of the jar and the loss of the made-from-scratch pea soup.

    I contacted the company and was informed that they do NOT recommend freezing anything in their quart jars, but that the pint jars were fine for freezing. All my jars are wide mouth jars, so now I do not freeze in their quart jars. I do use Pyrex glass storage containers to freeze in. Those come in squared off shapes as well as round ones. I use wax paper on top of the contents if I don’t want any contact between them and the lid and to reduce the chances of freezer burn.

  4. Carole Clarin says:

    Although I missed the deadline, I am thinking about your idea of freezing in glass. I too, have many concerns about using plastic even though I do sometimes. Square containers are so much easier to stack, especially when freezing that I’m wondering how glass jars can be piled up safely. I have thought about the square glass storage containers that I often use but of course the purchase of those can be costly if you want to preserve a lot of food. This certainly can be a dilemma!

  5. Deborah says:

    Margaret, did you announce the winner? I can’t figure out where. DIdn’t see it in the comments or in your regular blog entries.

  6. Rory says:

    Howdy, new to the world of canning, but I do have tupperware containers…okay they are cheap plastic versions of said product, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them any less and I would love and cherish this book. I would honestly save this for my oldest child to inherit one day…I love books and food about books.

  7. lucy says:

    Well I just was telling a friend, a good cook, that I don’t eat organ meats at all and related a story that as a child growing up in little Italy in nyc my dad ( also a good cook) cook and ate whole sheep heads which were sold locally and at that time in the 50′ and 60s were not all that strange. I of course as a child hated the sight and smell as well as the very idea of what was happening in our kitchen.
    As an aside
    I usually just read Melissa Clark’s column in the NY Times. Last week I made her chicken with fennel and I can’t say enough about how good it was and how easy it is to make. Also it was better the third day then when first prepared.

  8. Bernadette B. says:

    I love to “stock up” everything for future – winter use. I can, freeze, dehydrate, hang herbs in attic space. I don’t like to freeze too much because if the electric goes out I would hate to see anything wasted. I do, however, love to use a wide mouth canning pint size jar and put in whole cherry or grape tomatoes and freeze. Also I like to use my melon baller and put cantaloupe and watermelon into wide mouth pint size jars. Then in the winter I take a jar out of the freezer and open. I wait about 1/2 hour and then I enjoy icy cold fruits and tomatoes that taste sun kissed on a cold snowy winter day. We eat it all at one sitting, but if some of it does defrost just make a smoothie. Oh so good.

  9. patricia says:

    I agree with your argument for glass and against plastic, I really do. I tried glass years ago and it did not turn out well. Perhaps I am just a klutz but broken glass in the freezer is really awful.
    I split the difference and use cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, et all, containers for the freezer.

  10. Marcy C says:

    I just found your site and it’s great to get people excited to can again. I used to do over 1,000 plus jars of canning until we moved..no stove to do it on. Last year we put in a gas line for our old gas stove and I finally canned in Decemeber. I have 2 pressure canners and was able to do 25 pints of deer meat and also some jars of chicken breasts. I put the chicken in jelly jar size and it’s great for making chicken salad, add to broth or when ever you need a small amount of chicken. There is no fat and you can add your seasoning AFTER you open it…(may end up with green chicken breasts if you add certain seasonings.)

    I am a master food preserver, so it’s important to keep updated on the safety and the NEW times and processes from Grandma’s time…even from the 90s the times have changed…

  11. Bev C. says:

    Never knowing what to serve when hungry men come home I was so glad that hubby went away for a few (Month)days, so I could get my hands on some pans and cook. And Boy did I makeing to much and stuffing the freezer. First time in years my Son was Heard “Let’s have that thing you made Last week”. Gleefullly I pulled it out of the freezer. And now that I’ve found you I hope to make my Kitchen into a recycleing dream. If only in my mind!

  12. Lorie says:

    I have boxes of my husband’s Grandmother’s jars. I love them. I have been eliminating plastic for over a year and a half. I drink only out of glass, no plastic water bottles. I store, freeze and can in glass.

  13. Patti M says:

    I have been using canning jars for freezing for a while now. I wanted to remind everyone to leave plenty of room for expansion! I learned the hard way and have had several “broken” jars in the freezer.

    I love to freeze soup in small jars to take to work for my lunch. It’s defrosted by lunchtime!

    Good luck.

  14. Kay Jordan says:

    Count me in! I love to can everything that is on hand. Been canning forever! Its just part of my life and know what is ready….you got to can it. Thanks

  15. i use quart jars to freeze our goat milk. sometimes i can’t get to the cheesemaking every 4 days, so i put some up, being careful to fill only to within about 2″ of the top, to avoid breakage. I set my adjustable shelves just at the jar heighth, and love how easy, and organized, it is to store cases of milk.

  16. Deidre Betancourt says:

    I have been putting up small sweet peppers stuffed with provolone cheese and prosciutto and then pickled….also a pepper butter.If you can’t tell sweet peppers are my favorite veggie.

    1. Margaret says:

      Sounds like a pepper fest, Deidre. I like them roasted with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top and then served on crackers or better yet baguette!

  17. Ursula says:

    Years ago I tried freezing foods in glass jars and they shattered on me.
    Do these jars make a difference? Looks like they tape downwards, giving the frozen content to expand upwards. Is that the answer to the Weck jars, versus Ball jars?

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