Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Using the harvest, Part 2 (potatoes)

PLEASE KNOW THAT POTATOES ARE A LOW ACID FOOD AND CANNOT, I REPEAT CANNOT BE CANNED/ PROCESSED IN A WATER BATH CANNER. LOW ACID FOODS REQUIRE A HIGHER TEMPERATURE TO PROCESS SAFELY AND ONLY A PRESSURE CANNER CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS. PLEASE FOLLOW DIRECTIONS ON YOUR PRESSURE CANNER AND CONSULT WITH THE BALL BLUE BOOK CANNING GUIDE PRIOR TO ATTEMPTING TO CAN POTATOES.

I also added information about water level in the potatoes at the end of this post.

The potato mash seen here is made using 1 1/2 quart of canned potatoes a bit of plain soymilk (1/3 cup) and a tad of nutritional yeast (1/2 Tbsp). Straight from the jar, drained, and placed into a bowl, I mashed them by hand with a potato masher and then made VWAV punk rock chickpea gravy to top. I liked the gravy even though some of the spice mixture (like every spice in the cupboard) made me wonder what I was attempting to accomplish. I went to the ppk kitchen site to see if I could find a recipe similar, but no avail... this one must be a treasure for the book. Here is a link to ppk general gravy recipes posted on that site. My picture features the potatoes with a side of home canned corn and stuffed mushrooms made using whole grain bread crumbs from my freezer. I make bread crumbs with the last of a loaf OR when I have a loaf not turn out so well.... these breadcrumbs happened to come from a loaf that I forgot to add the salt to. The corn was cut off the cob and canned with some dried red bell peppers for flavor.

ABOUT CANNED POTATOES
Someone mentioned that my pictures are small. I usually turn them into thumbnails before uploading them or it takes 3 minutes or more to upload one picture, but as a thumbnail it uploads almost instantly and I do have DSL connection. On my full size home PC the pictures appear big on the screen, but on my laptop they appear small. I plan on taking a closeup of each of the canned goods I use and post it on this blog to show detail in the product when I begin to use it. Today's post will focus in on the potatoes. This is the first year I have canned potatoes because they are a low acid food and I didn't have the ability pre-pressure canner. (See below for information on cold storage.)

My canning friend told me awhile ago her family likes yukon gold potatoes the best as a canned good in comparison to other varieties of potatoes. The few yukon gold potatoes we had this year were eaten early so I had none to can, only a generic russet and pontiac red. I know these have a firmer texture and pleasant yellow color. I was a little concerned that the choices I made might end up mushy after the processing and maybe only good for mashed potatoes, especially the more tender and thin skinned red potatoes - not so. Now that I have used both varieties I can not that neither are mushy, the only big difference is in the skin. I left the skin on both, the russets skin is tougher but skips right off with a slight rub of the fingers, I did leave the skin in when I made mashed potatoes but I paid special attention to ensuring that they were well blended. Yukon skin is also thin and could be left on for canning purposes.

While comparing these jars visually (these were canned in July and it is now February) the jarred red potatoes look somewhat cloudy, but I can see the defined line of starch as well as the clear liquid separately. I believe this is just a little starch release and the red obviously has more but then potatoes also have various cooking properties. When I opened the jar and drained the liquid the starchy cloud disappeared, the potatoes felt normal, the liquid was not thick, it really was no problem .... just a visual difference between the two. After draining I dumped the potatoes into a bowl and began mashing with a hand held potato masher. They broke apart into what reminded me of a cubed hashbrown and I think could have easily been used for that. In canning I let the skins on these and the skin is thin enough that it causes no problem leaving it on while cooking.

ABOUT COLD STORAGE
Previously we kept potatoes in a cheap food cooler with a blanket wrapped around them at the bakehouse because we don't heat the bakehouse in the winter (except a special heat tape for the water pipes) so things might freeze there esp when we have temperatures like we have been having (-15 degrees F). The blanket and cooler did protect them through our winter months however this is the coldedt I have seen us since we started gardening and preserving five years ago. I have made it through March with fresh potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and even longer with squash. However by March the potatoes will be growing roots (which I will break off if I am going to cook them), so I use those to plant again. April is the time (Good Friday) to plant potatoes in my village along with some spring greens and a few onions.

In addition to the potato mash I also used 1/2 of the russets to make this simple creation for breakfast. I started by sauteing yellow onion slices and a little minced garlic. I had about 1/4 C chopped red pepper left in a baggie in the freezer so I threw that in. I sliced half a quart jar (after the liquid was drained) of the russet potatoes, saute'd a few minutes more and then added some thawed chopped spinach (a handful ran it under warm water in a small colander). Last I sprinkled with some organic bac-un bits. It was pretty good and I didn't need to kill it with ketchup to give it flavor. It didn't need salt because the water in the jar has a little salt in it and the bac'un bits were salty too.

Here's the label on the bac'un bits I bought. They are vegan and organic. I have tried very red colored vegan bac'un bits before and never cared for them because they reminded me of salt and grease, but these are not to bad.... a flavor of it's own. They are also a natural colored brown.

OTHER THINGS CANNED POTATOES ARE GOOD FOR...
1) open, drain and add them to any stew, Indian food recipe, soup, or other stir fry. They are already cooked and can be used for "fast food".

P.S. I recently had a conversation with someone who asked if I was from the "hippe" generation. Well, no patchouli smells or psychedelic flower symbols here BTW. I grew up in the eighties and although it was "small town no where" I was influenced by the punk movement. I was a heavy metal fan and owned a pair of parachute pants.

From the comments section I had a question asked that I answered there, but then decided I wanted to add it to this main post also.
  • Dori, I am curious about the air in the potato jars. I thought that all the food was supposed to be under water?
  • Good question erica. I called the Iowa State Extension experts and asked them the same thing when I first saw the water level (which was not this low when I started)... meaning I had the potatoes covered and 1/2 inch from the top before they went into the pressure canner. After canning at 10 lbs pressure for the required 45 minutes (time set by the ball canning guide) for a quart jar the water level lowered below the potatoes. The extension office said that this was normal, the vegetables soak them in when cooking and some of it comes out in steam during the pressure cooking process. The important thing is that the temperature is high enough to kill the botulism bacteria, ONLY a pressure canner that is working correctly and at the right pressure setting as well as the correct time can accomplish that task. Once this happens the water level below the potato is acceptable, however it may be a bit drier.... I didn't not find any difference between the tators at the top and the ones at the bottom. Pressure cookers can be checked at a county extension office.
  • I would definitely recommend getting the canning guide (see lnk on my sidebar) prior to attempting LOW ACID canning. It has great pictures of the process and explains everything is great detail.
I think this weekend I will be making up some pasta sauce in my slow cooker using frozen tomatoes from my freezer. I freeze my tomatoes whole in a can flat box, then stick them in a grocery sack until I am ready to use them. Using the harvest part 3 will tell you more - stay tuned. I loved the comments. I know that the site reader tells me what number of visits I get a day, but I never know who is really interested in what I am saying and one sided conversation can get boring.... so thanks.

24 comments:

laura jesser said...

Canning potatoes is a neat idea that I would never have thought of! Your stuffed mushrooms sound delicious. I've made homemade bread crumbs before but I find that when I need bread crumbs my bread isn't stale enough to make them, so half the time I just end up purchasing them anyway, or doing without them.

I am really enjoying your "using the harvest" series--I just think it's truly awesome to grow so much of your own food. I aspire to that one day.

Urban Vegan said...

Maybe it's the "grass is greener on the other side" syndrome, but I must confess that this urban vegan loves reading about your country vegan lifestyle. Maybe one day, I'll have to try being a country vegan, too.

bazu said...

That's so cool that there's a natural bac'un alternative... the other day, we bought the Betty Crocker stuff, but after reading the ingredients, just couldn't go through with it, so we returned it to the store! The potatoes are good-looking, can't wait to see the rest of the harvest!
Oh, and I'm that rare freak who likes both patchouli and punk rock- go figure!

Ruthie said...

I'm more of a patchouli and 80s music vegan. How weird is that? Anyway, I totally LOVE what you're doing. It's my goal to do the same sometime, even if I do it living on a 1/4 acre in the city. :) Keep posting!

By the way, does the Bakehouse have an online store?

aTxVegn said...

Your canning achievements are truly amazing, Dori! I am just in awe of what you have done. I wish I had canned some tomatoes awhile back - I miss them now!

Jody from VegChic said...

I'm also very impressed with all the canning you've done. When I was a child, I read books like "Little House in the Big Woods". They had to can their harvest to make it through the winter and I've always thought that it would be so satisfying to be able to eat fresh vegetable grown from your own garden throughout the winter.

Now that I own my own home, each year my garden gets a little bigger. I'm no where near canning stage though. We've got some interesting creatures that seem to consume many of the veggies I grow as well.

Anyway the meal looks great and I was just commenting on another blog about how I still need to try the PPK chick pea gravy.

Dori said...

urban vegan... just the same I enjoy reading about the restaurants and seeing the city sights from yours (one day when I visit I'll know exactly where I would like to go)

The bakehouse only sells locally and not via online. My sister manages the little bit of cooking that the bakehouse provides now. This blog is not to promote or try to sell, it is just because I enjoy connecting with others foodies and to share my flavor of being vegan and the gardening lifestyle. Just recently I decided to totally give up the bakehouse work to my sis, so I will no longer be a part of the bakehouse cooking and sales. I am working as high school teacher now and pursuing higher educational goals, so my foods promotion comes in a different way now.

A stevia series ... that I could could do, I'll think about that more as I complete the "using the harvest" posts.

My mom gardened a couple of years, but the only thing I remember about it is a HUGE sunflower plant (over 16 foot tall) that made the local newspaper. She did not get into canning, etc. My husband is the one who wants to garden the most (I just like the food), he grew up in it ... as in that is what his dad did and still does for a living (greenhouses and all things garden/ growing). The canning I learned initially from a friend and then I explored it further for education in the food science area.

Midwest Vegan said...

I love reading your posts on canning. I didn't know you could can potatoes. I'm also intrigued by your frozen tomatoes. Do you clean/treat them before freezing? Do you defrost before using? What's the texture like?

Gaia said...

You are very inspiring Dori !

It is also my goal to be organised enough, and have a big enough garden for me to can. I also need to find the space to store all the canning. It will be easier once the renovations are done.

erica said...

Dori, I am curious about the air in the potato jars. I thought that all the food was supposed to be under water?

Good thing you canned the potatos, otherwise it sounds like you might have lost them. I must admit the only thing I've canned was plum jam from my tree out back; my mom was so excited to teach me to can, we made a day of it and had a lot of fun, and a few burns. >P Last year I had no plum harvest to speak of, all the fruit rotted on the trees before it even ripened. I'm hoping this year will be better, plus I'll have much more of a garden this year besides my strawberries and raspberries. My rhubarb isn't here yet, though :(

Dori said...

Dori, I am curious about the air in the potato jars. I thought that all the food was supposed to be under water?


Good question erica. I called the Iowa State Extension experts and asked them the same thing when I first saw the water level (which was not this low when I started)... meaning I had the potatoes covered and 1/2 inch from the top before they went into the pressure canner. After canning at 10 lbs pressure for the required 45 minutes (time set by the ball canning guide) for a quart jar the water level lowered below the potatoes. The extension office said that this was normal, the vegetables soak them in when cooking and some of it comes out in steam during the pressure cooking process. The important thing is that the temperature is high enough to kill the botillism bacteria, ONLY a pressure canner that is working correctly and at the right pressure setting as well as the correct time can accomplish that task. Once this happens the water level below the potato is acceptable, however it may be a bit drier.... I didn't not find any difference between the tators at the top and the ones at the bottom.

I would definitely recommend getting the canning guide prior to attempting LOW ACID canning. It has great pictures of the process and explains everything is great detail.

Harmonia said...

I could sooooo go for a big bowl of mashed potatoes right now! lol

:)

Have a smashing weekend!

Kim said...

I Love potatoes and gravy. Is there a good place I could go to learn about what foods I would plant first, how to prepare the soil, products to by for gardening ect.... I am so interested in learning about growing and canning my own foods, I just dont know where to start.
Thanks, Kim

Froggiechon.blogspot.com

Nikki said...

I want to be just like you when I grow up Dori! :)

Well, I'll settle for learning how to garden for right now.

Jackie said...

It's amazing at all the bottling you do Dori. I haven't see home bottled fruits and veggies for many years. I suppose that is because I live in a city like Urban Vegan.

I also would never have thought of canning potatoes as I once tried a tin of potatoes and found them bitter, so the home made version must be nicer or you wouldn't do it.

The one thing I do want to try is bottled picalilli as the shop bought ones are far too acidic and the homemade ones I have bought at flea markets were not.

Vicki said...

I love, love, love potatoes! and even being an Idaho-girl, have never ever seen them canned -- not even by my grandma. You are revolutionary!

erica said...

Thanks Dori! That makes sense. I was thinking the pressure canning probably had something to do with it.

Melody said...

You absolutely amaze me... I really admire your gardening/canning skills.. I wish so much that I could garden like that.. and have food over the winter that I grew myself... your family is so lucky that you work so hard.

Vivacious Vegan said...

This is definitely not boring! Your posts are always very informative and interesting to me. I never would have thought to can potatoes. That might be a bit ambitious for me right now but your comments on storing them in a cooler is brilliant. I have some coolers in our attic just waiting for summer and in the meantime, I bet this would be a great job for them to do. Perfect!

Twisted Cinderella said...

My mother does a lot of canning. I love to see a pantry full of homemade canned goods. I have never seen canned potatoes though. cool

Kate said...

Oh wow, the picture you have with the mashed potatoes looks so fantastic. I had no idea canning potatoes was even a possibility, I have never seen canned potatoes in a store so I guess I just assumed that they did not exist. But leave it up to you to introduce me to new ways of saving food. While on the topic of potatoes, what are some of your favorite potato recipes? I would love for you to share them.

Fairly Odd Tofu Mom said...

Wow! Your potatoes look so good! You always inspire me to make more of my little garden than I did in previous years... My mom preserved absolutely everything - including potatoes... as kids we really didn't like them all that much, I have to admit, but I am not sure here method was all that great either.

I probably won't try canning potatoes as a result of this childhood trauma :) but I'm always interested in what you post...

Dori said...

Kate a post on potato uses sounds great... although I would be interested to see what other vegan bloggers are doing with them to get more ideas for myself.

Sorry to hear about your tater tragedy FOTM.... I remember my mom buying cans of them (like cans of green beans) from this store called Aldi's.

Anonymous said...

On Freezing your tomatoes, does this cause them to be soggy when thawed or can you slice them and eat them on a sandwich?

Lori Dayton, Shipshewana, IN

loridayton@hotmail.com