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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Northern Beaches’ War on Waste

It happens to the best of us - we pre-plan meals and faithfully stick to our shopping list but at the end of the week we have fruit and vegetables that we may not be able to use in time. Or maybe you’re a keen gardener and you’ve got an abundance of seasonal fruit and veggies that have sprung up all at once.

Don’t throw it out, compost or feed it to the chooks, there’s a better solution. It’s the old tradition of preserving!

Preserving is the perfect solution to excess fruit and vegetables, and you can enjoy the produce at a later time, even when it’s out of season. It’s good for you, tastes even better and saves time and money.

We spoke to Margaret Mossakowska from Moss House who grew up in rural Poland where her family preserved hundreds of jars of their summer harvest in autumn to see them through the harsh winters.

Here are some of her preserving tips, techniques and recipes:

Dehydrating

This is the oldest way of preserving.

  • The food needs to be a small size (like grapes) or cut into slices (large or juicy fruit such as strawberries or citrus) to allow for quick drying and to prevent mould forming.
  • There are a few ways you can dehydrate these fruits:
    • Use natural airflow on dry, windy days
    • Pop them in an oven with a temperature of 60 degrees. If you use a higher temperature you need to keep the oven door open to avoid cooking the food instead
    • Use an electric dehydrator
  • Store your dehydrated fruit and veggies in sterilised jars with the lids closed tight. Place them in a dry dark place like your pantry. If you open the jars and then close them again, make sure you screw the lid back on tight to prevent moisture from entering the jars. Dehydrated fruits like orange slices and strawberries can be dipped in chocolate and make great gifts.

Pickling

  • The main preserving agent in pickling is brine made up of vinegar, salt and sugar, and flavoured with herbs and spices. This brine is poured over fruit and veggies and left to steep for several weeks.
  • You can pickle small whole or slices of large cucumbers, carrots, garlic, radishes and many other vegetables.
  • Check out some of Margaret’s recipes including pickled gherkins and spicy lemon pickle.
  • Store your pickled fruit and veggies in sterilised jars in your fridge. For longer term storage (1-2 years), it is necessary to pasteurise your pickles. 

Fermenting

  • This is one of the oldest methods of preserving food like dehydrating, but this technique uses bacteria and fungi.
  • You can use fermentation to create salsas, kimchi and more. Check out Margaret’s recipes on tomato salsa, fermented wild mushrooms and polish style red kimchi.
  • Store your fermented goodies in sterilised jars in your fridge.

Preserving by boiling

  • Jams/marmalades: these involve cooking fruit with sugar and flavourings such as spices. Often a jellying agent such as pectin is added.
  • Chutneys/relishes: these can be prepared from vegetables in similar way as jams, but vinegar and sugar are used in the cooking process. Here’s a recipe from Margaret on spiced zucchini and cucumber relish
  • Store your jams, marmalades, chutneys and relishes in sterilised jars in your fridge. For longer term storage (1-2 years), it is necessary to pasteurise these.

Any jars you use to store your preserves must be sterilised. If you’re reusing old jars, they must have only stored food before- no nasty chemicals! Any metal lids need to be good seals with no corroding or rusting.

For more information on safely producing pickles, salsas and sauces, visit the Food Authority’s website.

If you would like to learn more about preserving and how you can feed your family healthy meals while reducing waste, register for one of our free webinars:

Keep an eye on our waste reduction events page for more webinars and find more tips here on how you can reduce your waste.

If you’re a food and beverage business owner and interested in swapping out single-use plastics, join our free webinar (also suitable for school canteens).

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