Preserving the seasons: expert food-preservation tips and recipes

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Preserving the seasons: expert food-preservation tips and recipes

Food preservation is a magical way to keep the flavours of your favourite foods alive. But what exactly is it? This week the folk at Jarden Home Brands delve into the concept and share expert tips and two tantalising recipes to get you started.

For those of you who are foreign to the concept, food preservation is the art of preventing food from decaying through various techniques including pickling, canning and fermentation. It usually involves adding ingredients that are likely in your pantry – such as vinegar. And contrary to what you might think, preserving food is not rocket science. Sure, there’s a science behind food preservation, but with the right recipes and resources you’ll be well on your way to preserving your favourite foods in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Lauren Devine-Hager, product researcher and test kitchen scientist on the Ball brand says the best place to start is with a tried-and-tested recipe. “Also ensure you have the right accessories,” she adds. “Think of preservation as a means of cooking. It ultimately affects the flavour and texture of the food.”

The best part of food preservation, for me personally, is its ability to prevent food from decaying for up to a year. But whatever your reason and whatever the season, every food enthusiast should add the technique of food preservation to their cooking repertoire.

Here are some guidelines:

·      Time and temperature are fundamental to food preservation. There is, however, no optimal time as they are recipe dependent (refer to The Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving)

·      While there are a myriad foods that are suitable for preserving, fruit and vegetables such as bananas and broccoli are a no-no as they tend to become too mushy.

·      In the same vein, anything high in fat is not safe as it normally encapsulates bacteria, Lauren warns.

·      When exposed to light, discoloration can occur but it won’t harm your pickles or preserves.

·      If you’re worried about a sugar spike, you can control the sugar levels by adding less sugar or replacing it with artificial sweeteners in preserves such as strawberry jam.

For the waterbath method to food preservation, follow these easy steps:

1 Wash your jars, bands and lids in hot soapy water.

2 Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use, but do not boil.

3 Set the lids and bands aside.

4 Now prepare your waterbath preserver (a large, deep stock pot consisting of a lid and rack). Fill halfway with water, keeping water at a simmer and cover with a lid until the jars are filled and placed in preserver.

5 Prepare your recipe.

6 Remove jars using a lifter and be sure to empty water inside the jar. Fill with prepared food one at a time using a jar funnel. Remove air bubbles if necessary.

7 Clean rim and threads of any residue and seal jar fingertip tight.

8 Place filled jars in the prepared waterbath preserver, covering with a lid and bring to a boil as per time indicated on recipe, then turn off heat, remove lid from the pot and allow to cool for 5 minutes to acclimatise to the outside temperature.

9 Remove jars from waterbath and set upright on a towel to prevent breakage.

10 Leave undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.

Sound simple enough? Get cracking with one of these easy recipes:


Makes about 8 (135 ml) jars

crushed strawberries 4 cups

sugar 3 cups

Ball glass preserving jars with lids and bands 8

1 Prepare a water bath preserving pot (see above).

2 Combine the strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and gels. Remove from the heat. Skim off the foam.

3 Ladle hot jam into hot jars, one at a time, leaving 0.5 cm headspace. Wipe the rims. Centre the lids on the jars. Apply the bands and adjust to fingertip tight.

4 Process filled jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the pot lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove the jars, cool and store for up to a year in the pantry.


sliced, trimmed pickling cucumbers 10 cups

medium onions 4, thinly sliced

pickling or preserving salt 125 ml

white vinegar  3 cups

sugar 400 g

mustard seeds 2 T

celery seeds 1 t

ground turmeric 1 t

1 In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine the cucumbers, onions and salt. Mix well, cover with cold water and allow to stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

2 Transfer to a colander placed over a sink, rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly.

3 Prepare a water bath preserving pot.

4 In a large, stainless steel saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the vegetables and return to a boil.

5 Pack vegetables into hot jars to within a generous 1 cm at the top of the jar. Ladle the hot pickling liquid into jar to cover vegetables, leaving 1 cm headspace.

6 Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe the rims, then centre the lids on the jars. Screw the band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

7 Process for 10 minutes in boiling water canner, ensuring the jars are covered with water. Remove the pot lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

For more, visit

Discover more pickling and preserve recipes here.

Ashraf Booley Article by: Ashraf Booley

Woolworths TASTE’s digital content producer loves nothing more than trying out inventive recipes and using close friends and family as his guinea pigs. When he’s not crafting content or posting images to TASTE’s Instagram account, he sits in a quiet corner sipping on pretentious tea and penning poetry.

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