Gauteng Smallholder Gauteng Smallholder November 2011 - Page 41

From page 33 simply replace a pint with half a litre and a quart with a litre and a splash. For weight, replace a pound with half a kilogram and you won't be far out. If you are bottling whole fruit or making jams, marmalades and chutneys, it is vital that you do not compromise on the sterility of your bottles or on the effectiveness of the seals. It is heartbreaking to go to all the trouble of picking, peeling, chopping and cooking your produce, only to have it go bad because you did not have a scrupulously clean and dry bottle or neglected to make an airtight seal. Freezing It is possible to freeze most vegetables. When it comes to freezing fruit, it is often better to puree it first or to cook it in syrup and freeze in a rigid container to prevent bruising. Many herbs can also be frozen. You will need a large quantity of ice, which you can make the day before; a large bucket/bowl/sink of iced water; a large pot of boiling water; absorbent paper; freezer bags, wire ties and labels. ~ Pick as early in the morning as possible; ~ Prepare the vegetables the way you would for cooking; ~ Bring water to boil in your large pot – 5 litres for 500 g vegetables; ~ Blanch vegetables in the boiling water for no more than a minute; ~ Plunge them into the iced water for the same amount of time and shake to cool; ~ Drain well and when completely drained and cool, package, seal, label and freeze immediately. If using freezer bags purge as much air from the bag as possible before sealing. IN THE KITCHEN Make the best use of space in your freezer by forming the bags into squares. Do this by fitting the bags into an empty five litre ice cream container, emptying the container once the bags have frozen. Sterilising Bottles Proper preserving jars (aka Consol jars or Mason jars if you're American) with single- use metal lids and screw rings are best if you are bottling fruit or vegetables, but clean mayonnaise or pickle jars can also be used. Use only glass jars. If you intend giving away your jams, chutneys and pickles, smaller bottles are better: that makes your produce go further. Also, not everyone will enjoy your wares and a small quantity might be all they are going to consume. Wash the bottles and lids thoroughly to ensure there is absolutely no residual smell of their contents. Then sterilize them. If you have a micro- 39 wave this is done by pouring about 3cm of water into each jar and microwaving on full power for five minutes. Slosh the boiling water about the jar and discard, and dry the jar by placing it upside down in a warm oven. Don't dry it with a cloth - this will merely re-contaminate it. The lids, even the new single- use ones, should be boiled to ensure sterility. Bottling Fruit Many smallholdings have at least one peach tree, and there is nothing like a row of bottled go lden cling peaches on your kitchen shelf to fill Continued on page 41