Slicing Strawberries

You picked up a couple of flats of strawberries that you need to prepare.  Only problem is that if you use the egg slicer you are going to be sitting in the kitchen forever!

If you have a food processor with a slicing blade you can cut that time to minutes!

Clean and hull your strawberries as normal, and place them in a colander or on a towel to dry.

Set up your food processor with the slicing blade.  Drop 3-5 strawberries into the chamber and gently press the plunger to activate.

All of your berries come out sliced the same thickness and ready for use in your recipe or for freezing.

In A Pickle

You are making pickles and after you open the jar you notice that the pickles don’t look quite right.  Here are a few results that you might find and the cause of them:

The Pickles are Hollow
Your cucumbers may not have been fresh or they were poorly developed when you started.

The Pickles Look Shriveled
When this happens, your solution may have been too strong. (salt, sugar or vinegar)

The Pickles are Soft or Slippery
Your solution may have had too little salt or vinegar. It is also possible that you got an imperfect seal or you did not process them long enough. In this case discard the pickles and try again.

Freezing Food 2

When freezing food in plastic containers, always leave some headspace between the food that you are storing and the lid of the container, especially with liquids.

The headspace will allow your stored items to expand as it freezes with out breaking the container.

If you are freezing your items in freezer bags you will want to make sure that you remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.

Easy Canning Tips

When canning, the recipe will always tell you to leave headspace at the top of the jar. Not all recipes will tell you how much headspace is needed. When canning the headspace must be there in order to get the ideal seal on your stored items.

If you leave too little or too much headspace you will not get an adequate seal.  Here is a quick list of different jars, and approximately how much headspace should be left.

Sugar or Liquid Pack: Wide top Jars ½ inch for Pint, and 1inch for Quart.

Sugar or Liquid Pack: Narrow top Jars ¾ inch for Pint, and 1 ½ inches for Quart.

No Liquid Pack: Unless otherwise noted, leave ½ inch.

Freezer Burned

You had put some meat in the freezer a few months ago and you are now pulling it out to cook it up for dinner. As you look at it, and it has some really weird looking gray spots on it and it looks kinda dried up.

What happened to it? Welcome to the world of freezer burn. Freezer burn occurs when the surface of frozen food becomes exposed to air. Once the food that has been burned is thawed, you can cut away the portions that have been burned and still use it, but the taste and/or texture will not quite be the same.

If you cook the burned portions you may not experience the results from your recipe that you are accustomed to. If the item smells off or odd, toss it and use a new package. Better not to take the chance to ruin the whole dinner.

To prevent food from becoming freezer burned, make sure that it is tightly sealed in plastic wrap or a freezer bag with all of the air removed.

If you are going to be storing for more than a month, wrap it once more in freezer paper with the name of the item written on the packaging along with the date that it was frozen.

Home Made Ice Cream Hints

Ice Cream is one of the best frozen desserts. You can actually make it and eat it year round, although it is most popular in the summer. Here are some hints to help you make the best ice cream possible!

When you are making ice cream at home, be sure to read and be familiar with the directions for your ice cream freezer.

The faster that you freeze the ice cream mixture the smoother the texture of the finished ice cream.

Make up mix in’s for churn-frozen ice creams the day before you freeze. Freeze the mix in’s to increase yield and produce a smoother texture in your finished product.

Remember that your ice cream will expand as it freezes in your ice cream maker. As a rule. Do not fill your ice cream container no more than two-thirds full to permit room for expansion as it is mixed and frozen in your machine.

Grab a couple of bags of crushed ice for your crank machines. You will also want to have on hand about 1 cup of coarse rock salt for each bag of ice. Make sure that ice is crushed well and place around your canister first, then attach the top of the machine. Add your salt and allow to stand for about 3 minutes before you start your ice cream freezer. (this is only for machines that require ice, self contained ice cream machines do not need ice, salt or a waiting period)

If you have a hand-crank machines, try to start your timing at 40 turns per minute until you feel the mixture begin to resist as it thickens. Once it becomes fairly difficult to turn, speed up your turning for about 5 or 6 minutes. Once the ice cream is fairly firm, but before you add more ice and salt, add any chopped fruit. Repack the salt ice and finish with about 80 turns per minute.

If you are making an ice, try not to use more than 1 part sugar to 4 parts liquid. If you use too much sugar your ice will not freeze properly.

Soup Stock Storage

If you decided to make up your own stock, you probably aren’t going to use it right away.

I will usually make up stock after I have prepared a beef or chicken dinner that left me with some decent bones.

Just pour the finished stock into plastic containers and refrigerate immediately. It will keep fresh for a few days.

If you don’t plan of using the stock for at least 6 days, place in the freezer after you have marked the container well.

You should be able to freeze it for 6 months.

If you find that you need smaller quantities of stock you can also freeze it in ice cube trays.

Once it is frozen, dump the trays into tightly sealed plastic containers or zip lock bags.

Each cube will be the equivelant of about a tablespoon of stock.

You can also freeze any left over stock from a can in this manner if you don’t need all of it for your recipe.

Canning Hints

When canning, the recipe will always tell you to leave headspace at the top of the jar. Not all recipes will tell you how much headspace is needed. When canning the headspace must be there in order to get the ideal seal on your stored items.

If you leave too little or too much headspace you will not get an adequate seal. Here is a quick list of different jars, and approximately how much headspace should be left.

Sugar or Liquid Pack: Wide top Jars ½ inch for Pint, and 1 inch for Quart.

Sugar or Liquid Pack: Narrow top Jars ¾ inch for Pint, and 1 ½ inches for Quart.

No Liquid Pack: Unless otherwise noted, leave ½ inch.

Freezing Food

When freezing food, always leave some headspace between the food that you are storing and the lid of the container, especially with liquids.

The headspace will allow your stored items to expand as it freezes with out breaking the container.

If you are freezing your items in freezer bags you will want to make sure that you remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing.

Freezing Tips III

When you are preparing your meat for freezing, you want to make sure that you get the best kind of freezer paper as possible.

The kind that you can get in the grocery store is adequate for short term freezing.  If you want better quality paper check your local warehouse stores and see if they have any large rolls available. These rolls will be quite large and cost between $20-$50.

If you do not have access to any, just wander down to your local butcher and ask if you could purchase a roll or section of their paper.