Saturday, September 8, 2007

Frozen Pears + Freezer Preserving

In addition to all of the just-picked vegetables we brought home from Maine last weekend, we were given a large box of gorgeous crabapples, plums, and pears from the orchard.

Because the bounty from our CSA can sometimes be too much for two people to finish in a week (a double-edged sword), I've been learning to preserve produce. This is a very good thing, because there is no way we could finish all of this fruit while it's still ripe!

Canning is definitely fun. I love fruit preserved in any form, and there is a certain proud satisfaction to be had in the delicious results of a day spent with family or friends (or both, if you're lucky), settling on interesting recipes (I've got my eye on a particular Ginger Pear Jam), prepping and cooking, and packing finished preserves into sparkling-clean Mason jars. And if I'm being honest, I'll admit that I have a limited amount of energy for busy days spent over a hot stove and making a sticky, cluttered mess of the kitchen.

Luckily, the smart folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation understand this dilemma. They have compiled an extensive set of instructions for freezing all kinds of foods, from avocados, loquats, oysters and pomegranates to applesauce and pumpkin puree.

In addition, Ball (the company that used to make those familiarly-shaped glass canning jars) has a new website where you can find a growing collection of recipes for freezer preserves, which don't require sterilized jars or a final boiling-water-canning or pressure-canning step. How easy is that?!

Not only is freezing easier and safer, but some studies suggest that the process of freezing produce destroys fewer vitamins and minerals than traditional hot-canning methods.

I've had limited experience freezing produce, so I'm hoping that it really does turn out to be a good alternative to canning. I'm certainly putting our half-sized, newly acquired upright freezer* (craigslist, how I love thee!) to good use! If the four pounds of pears frozen in syrup- my first experiment beyond freezing pesto- turn out well, I think a celebratory winter pear clafoutis will be in order.

* An extra special thank you L, S and A for retrieving it and carrying it up all those stairs!

No comments: