Friday, July 20, 2012

How to spend time and energy wasting food

Every week, Kristen over at The Frugal Girl hosts "Food Waste Friday", showing photos of the food she's had to throw out, and inviting  other people to do the same.

This week, I'll win big.  This much bad food took a bunch of planning and time, and I'd like to tell you how I managed it.

We started with some zucchini that I knew we couldn't eat soon.  So I decided to try an experiment:  zucchini pickles.  I'd never made them before, but I googled recipes, followed one of them (sort of), and put up three jars of zucchini pickles.  All the instructions say that pickles need to sit a week before you eat them.  The jar you see front-and-slightly-left-of-center above is the one that didn't seal, so we stuck it in the fridge, waited a week, and then tried it at dinner time.

No good.  That's all I want to say.  There are two other jars down in the cellar; they'll join their big brother in the trip to the compost pile.

And then there's the bean/potato soup.  I love soups, and I've had a great time lately making soup from bean stock.  When I cook up beans, I soak the dry beans over night, toss that water, rinse the beans, and then boil the beans in fresh water.  The juice from that boiling becomes the base for some great soups: think beans, sauteed onions, a few other veggies, and maybe potatoes.  Good stuff.

But this time around, when I made the huge pot of soup, I wasn't ready to can it right away, so I let it sit out overnight, and then canned it the next day.  I've heard cooling down and the reboiling isn't good for food.  Guess what?  It wasn't -- it started to turn a bit rancid.  Lots of good soup, from a good recipe.  But I waited too long.  Processing right away is vital.

The soup -- that was just stupid.  But the pickles?  Actually, I'm sort of proud of them.  I mean, they were awful, but that's not really the point, is it?  Learning new skills means not only learning what to do, but also what not to do.  I'm not ever going to wait before canning soup again, and I'm going to hunt around for good pickle recipes before I try again.  At least I know what to avoid.  Maybe.

I can't show you pictures of the other food I was "putting up" when I did the pickled zucchini and soup, because we ate it all already.  That was the dehydrated cabbage, surprisingly tangy and crunchy.  My neighbor has even asked me to dry her latest CSA cabbage.  I told her she has to wait a day or two, though, because we have another giant pile of summer squash, and this is where it is now.

Another experiment.  For which I have high (and dry) hopes.  With any luck, you won't see these summer squash strutting their stuff on a future Friday post.

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