The more you get into different kinds of preserving the more different extra bits you need to achieve a certain standard and to make sure the food is kept safe from unsafe bacteria. This is more than relevant when it comes down to processing meat. Before I started on this project I started to buy in those items such as curing or Prague powders sausage skins herb flavourings sea salt dried onion powder and dried rusk to name but a few all gathered together ready to use. I am waiting to start using the dehydrator by making some jerky. I have the wine coolers one of which is to be utilised as a meat cave I just have a couple of more components to go into that and the cave should be ready for use. Then I will start with salami. We have previously made Gravlax and home cured bacon. I want to have a go at Pastrami, Braesola, sausages, a ham for Christmas, chorizo. I really want to play.
Recently I have started drying stuff I am still a beginner and I still have a lot of things to put up for the winter months and I need to gather together lots of storage jars to be able to store my stuff safely. I have read a lot of what the ladies do in the States to store their dried goods safely and a lot of them use little sachets called Oxygen Absorbers. I have just purchased some from Ebay. 300 for £5.95. I will see how I get on with them.
I have also been collecting preserving jars where I can different sorts of jars, as well as seals and rings. If I see any on offer I always put a few in my basket. I predominantly use Kilner jars. However I also have Quattro Stagioni jars (they have a solid sealable lid rather than the two piece lids like the Kilner jars). I have however found that the Kilner jar lids and seals will fit these jars. I am always concerned that I will not be able to get replacement seals etc. so to find this out was useful. I bought about a dozen Quattro Stagioni jars and then could not get the replacement lids and I tried the Kilner jar lids by chance and they fitted and they do seal well. I have also found that I can get the jars every so often from TK Maxx a heck of a lot cheaper often in gift sets of three or four jars for around £5 although I have found that Lakeland, Wilkinsons, John Lewis and Beales as well as Dunhelm sell the preserving/canning/bottling jars. I have also bought them of Amazon and also off of Ebay and have invested quite heavily in the canning/bottling jars. I add a few more each year and each year I do more than the last year.
Each year I learn something the following year I go on to expand on that putting what I have learned into good use.
I also need to stock up on greaseproof paper and brown paper. You used to be able to buy some round plastic discs with spikes on which you inserted into the top of a canning jar to hold the contents down in the syrup or vinegar but I have not seen any for ages and what few I did have are long since gone. To keep the contents submerged before processing fruit (which often rises and spoils the appearance of the preserve) I crumple up some greaseproof and pop it into the top of the filled jar between the headspace and the seal and I have found this keeps the contents submerged. I also use brown paper to go around the outside of jars with red fruits in as it helps keep the colour true and stops the preserve fading.
My small pantry is very full. It really is not big enough for what I do or what I want to do but I have a pantry and it is a lot better with the addition of the shelves and recycling the Roses glass sweet jars as storage containers for staples like, rice, porridge oats, flour, sugar etc. However any future home must have a pantry and if it hasn't I will have to look into it further I really could not do without a pantry these days, To think that when I was married there was an even smaller pantry in the home I owned with my ex husband and it was sacrificed to make the kitchen bigger and more useable.
I think the Americans have the right idea when it comes to Pantry storage and also Root Cellars now they do intrigue me. I do not know whether they would be viable in this country. I know in the Fens that the waterline is not far down and therefore I do not think it would be practical. It may be elsewhere in the country. Does anyone have a Root Cellar in the UK or have any experience of them. I would be pleased to hear from you.
When I was a little girl the Council House we lived in had a back place. In effect this was like a large outhouse attached to the house built of solid brick but it was unheated. The back door led into it off the kitchen but it stored the coal house and things like potatoes and root vegetables and apples were stored in there. In the kitchen mum had a small pantry a bit bigger than mine now and I remember all of mum's bottled fruit being on top shelf out of the way of curious hands. Especially the goosegogs. It used to fascinate me.
So even when I am not really looking and I come across a bargain on the consumables for the preserving lids of any sort, jam jar lids, I even recycle jars. I have found that the square curry mixes jars and a well known pasta sauce jar can be recycled and with Lakeland standard jar lids. I recycle jars where I can. However I do not use the cellophane jam jar seals as I found the preserves used to dry out rapidly using these and I prefer to have a proper jam jar lid.
I still have a load more bits and bobs to gather together but I am getting there very slowly,
Catch you soon.