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    « I forget how busy September can be! | Main | Know your Farmer »
    Friday
    Aug302013

    Vacuum-sealing Freezer Pickles with my FoodSaver

    Yes, you heard that right: FREEZER pickles. 

    In this case, Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles.


    I've made a lot of pickles in my lifetime. In fact, some people refer to me as the "Pickle Princess", though I prefer Pickle QUEEN, thank you very much. Relax...I'm joking!

    But let's get serious. A few months ago I heard someone mention freezer pickles and I had to do some investigating. From everything I read, freezer pickles are crispy, crunchy and packed full of flavor, just like you'd expect from a perfect pickle.

    The benefit of freezing them?

    For starters, you won't need glass jars or a Boiling Water Bath Canner, like one would use when making traditional pickles. Or if you usually make refrigerator-type quick pickles, you know they can take up valuable refrigerator space. Bonus: freezer pickles can be stored much longer than refrigerator pickles. (Months as opposed to weeks.) 

     I started with beautiful fresh green beans, grown right down the road 

    I washed, drained, trimmed their ends and cut them on the diagonal, then generously salted them...

    ....and let them sit for 2 hours in a strainer, to draw out some of their moisture and crisp them.

    While they were sitting I made a sweet, sour, deliciously tangy brine of soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, shallots, sugar and allspice. After the green beans had been rinsed and drained a bit, I tossed them with the brine, and added a handful of raisins to the mix.
    I let them sit overnight, so the flavors could blend.

    Not the best photo quality - bad lighting - I took it at 6:05 a.m.
    I was just so eager to try them! 

    The original recipe said to pack them into containers, but I had a better plan. I would vacuum-seal them with my new FoodSaver*I had just learned that the FoodSaver system "keeps food fresh 5x longer". 

    I set up everything I would need. Because I am a Virgo I decided to weigh out the batches in 1 pound increments, then wrote "1 pt" ("A pint's a pound the world around.") on each heat-seal pre-cut BPA-free quart-size bag, along with the date and contents. I noticed later that I was so excited I wrote the name of the recipe wrong on the first bag. Oh well. Pickle royalty is allowed a few mistakes!

    There's a nifty setting on the vacuum-sealing unit for "moist" foods, and since I was packing the Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles with some of the brine, I chose this setting. The handy drip tray on the unit catches any of the brine liquid that sneaks through, eliminating any messy clean-up. The clever people at FoodSaver have even developed special "Liquid Block" moisture barrier bags for times like this, but since I didn't have any of them, I used my regular FoodSaver bags and they worked like a charm.
     

     

    For this next part, you might want to have a chair nearby. No one is really prepared for the first time they witness the vacuum-sealer in action. Let's just say, the first time I fed the filled bag into the unit and it started doing its thing, I went a little weak in the knees. The sight and sound of the vacuum-sealing process only lasts a few seconds...but they are magical moments, for sure.

    About ten minutes, start to finish, is all it took to go from a bowl of Sweet & Sour Green Bean Freezer Pickles, to five (5) perfectly-sealed one-pound bags, ready for the freezer. I fanned them out like a hand of poker cards, so I could stop and enjoy the results. #winning

    Once finished I tucked them into my freezer. I had to take a picture - they looked so neat & tidy. That's the Virgo in me talking. Again. 

    As a loud proponent of food preserving, I do a lot of it, including canning, dehydrating and fermenting. I realized that day that vacuum-sealing these freezer pickles was probably the quickest and easiest preserving I'd ever done! 

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    Note: Vacuum-sealing food is not a replacement for canning, but it is a wonderful way to extend the freshness of foods. When food is vacuum-sealed it will last longer in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry, depending on where you would normally store the particular food item. (Examples: When vacuum-sealed, avocados last longer in the fridge, meats last longer in the freezer, dried pasta lasts longer in the pantry, etc.) 

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

    *Full disclosure time: the wonderful people at FoodSaver (they know who they are) gave me a Foodsaver Vacuum Sealer in exchange for writing about their products. Let's just say the day the UPS man brought it, it was like my birthday, Mother's Day and Christmas all rolled into one! I had never used a vacuum sealer before, although being a certified Master Food Preserver I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it. After using it, I don't know how I lived so long without one. Besides being a smart and economical system for preserving freshness it is....dare I say it? FUN! 

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