Thursday, July 25, 2013

Food Preservation - Choosing a Method - Cabbage

Our ancestors devised many methods of preserving their harvest out of necessity.  They did not have the luxury of having fresh food shipped, sometimes thousands of miles, to the grocery nearest them.  Nor did they have freezers that would hold the food cold for months at a time (except in the coldest climates where it was kept in attics or outside).

Food Preservation includes many different methods:  Canning, Freezing, Dehydrating, Cooked and Frozen as meals, Smoking, and Fermenting to name a few.  When choosing a method or methods to use for a particular fruit or vegetable coming out of your garden or bought bulk at your local farmers market you have to decide how you are going to use this product and primarily how you prefer to eat it.  There is no sense dehydrating everything if you don't like reconstituted dried foods or canning if you hate, well canned peas for example.  Sometimes the way you use that particular food will dictate how you preserve it.

Today we are going to talk about cabbages, because cabbages happen to be something that I recently took out of my garden and need to preserve.  So, first I have to decide, how am I going to use this product?  

  • We love Sauerkraut.  Fresh is best and the best for you.  I know I can keep fresh Kraut in the frig for up to 5-6 months before it gets mushy and looses it's flavor.  I have to have lots of refrigerator space to have several jars in there.  You could can it, but it will loose the enzyme activity that you have in the fresh.  Canned it still tastes fine and preserves some of it's nutrients.
  • I like to use the cabbage in soups so dehydrating is a possibility here.  Freezing uses electricity and cost money to keep in storage and frozen cabbage tends to be soggy.
  • Runza's (my grandmother was a German from Russia and we eat many ethnic foods from there) are a favorite here but I haven't yet figured out a way to make it in Gluten-free Bread.  I can make some filling up and freeze it for later use.  I have to remember where it is in the freezer and have a way to keep inventory of the kitchen freezer so things don't get lost in there....and they do.
  • I found a couple of recipes using cabbage that I can make up and freeze in appropriate portions for our family.  Again, this will keep for up to 6 weeks in the freezer and must go on my inventory list.
This time I have only four cabbages and many more to follow.  Today my decision is to Dehydrate three of the cabbages and make meals with the last one.  We still have some fresh Kraut in the frig and there are more cabbages still growing in the garden that I can make Kraut with.

Dehydrated cabbage is easy to store and use. 
When dehydrating cabbage prepare it the same as for fermenting and freezing. Cut the cabbages in quarters and remove the core.

You can either shred or grate the cabbage, then you’ll want to steam it for a couple of minutes just before spreading it out to dry. 

Dehydrate on low — 100-110°F — until crisp. Store in a cool, dark place in airtight containers.  

I like to store dehydrated veggies on the shelves in my pantry in half gallon glass jars.  You can store long term in jars with an oxygen absorber or in food grade plastic buckets with absorbers in them.  I prefer the glass and since there are just three of us (and one is a baby) we don't eat that much.  You can store a lot of dried cabbage in a half gallon glass jar.  This jar contains three cabbages.

Originally posted in my Heritage Harvest Home BLOG

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