It struck me today that it has been a while since I wrote a Top 5 post. Clearly the only way to remedy that situation was to write one - And here it is – Top 5 Things I don’t know about preserving.
1. Can you reuse the rings for Fowlers jars? I bought a Fowlers Vacola unit last summer and preserved heaps of tomatoes and peaches, which we are working our way through (actually we have just finished the peaches and there are only a few jars of tomatoes left). After we use each jar I wash the lids and rings for later use. But I was looking at the ring packaging the other day though and it suggests they are only suitable for single usage. Is this really the case? On one hand the rings are quite expensive so I would prefer to reuse but by the same token I only want to do it safe in the knowledge that they will actually work the second time round.
2. How long can you keep chutney? I have been known to find the odd 5 year old jar of chutney in the back of the cupboard. Generally I will happily eat the contents which sometimes taste better than in the preceding 4 years. My most recent back of the cupboard find did get me thinking though – exactly how long does chutney last for. Will it eventually go off or is the vinegar, sugar and salt combination so inhospitable that nothing will ever grow in it?
3. How do you know if olives might kill you? My 3 year old son is going through a particularly particular eating phase. He likes to know exactly what he is eating. As a result I prepare a lot of ‘plates of food’. ‘Plates of food’ consist of a plate with a number of separate things on it – ie carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, cubes of cheese etc. Today his luncheon plate also included olives. The olives I am using at the moment were given to me by a friend of mine who has a tree. Her neighbours come and harvest all the olives on her tree each year and then use them to produce oil. They also preserve a few jars full for her. Anyway as I was ladling out his olives today I did pause to wonder how I would know if they had been preserved properly.
4. Can you use oil to preserve wet ingredients? I get very confused about using oil to preserve things. My understanding is that if you pour oil over wet ingredients to preserve them the ingredients can still go off underneath the oil. Is this the case? Because I also read suggestions to ‘seal’ jars of pesto etc by pouring on a slick of oil. Which is right? Does oil stop food from spoiling?
5. How do you get the bits arranged nicely in jar of marmalade? As I mentioned yesterday in my Monday Harvest post I went to the Royal Melbourne Agricultural Show on Monday. In the Arts and Craft pavilion they had the most beautiful looking preserves. To me the most beautiful was a jar of marmalade which looked to have fine strands of peel set in a marmalade jelly. The intriguing thing was the strands of peel where evenly distributed throughout the jar. How did the maker manage it? Mine always seems to bunch together either on the top or the bottom of the jar.
Those are my Top 5 things I don’t know about preserving, I am really looking forward to your thoughts on any or all of the above issues.