What is Flat Sour? Flat sour is a condition in canned foods characterized by a loss of flavor and the development of an unpleasant taste and odor. This phenomenon is particularly associated with canned vegetables, fruits, and acidic products like tomato-based sauces. The name "flat sour" aptly describes the dull, lifeless taste that results from this spoilage.
Causes of Flat Sour:
Microbial Activity: Flat sour is primarily caused by the activity of heat-resistant bacteria, particularly strains of thermophilic bacteria such as Bacillus coagulans and Geobacillus stearothermophilus. These bacteria survive the canning process and, under favorable conditions, proliferate, leading to the degradation of the canned product.
Inadequate Processing: Flat sour can occur when the canning process is not executed correctly. Incomplete heating or cooling processes may allow heat-resistant bacteria to survive, contributing to the development of flat sour flavors.
Low Acidity Levels: Certain canned goods, like vegetables and fruits with low acidity, are more susceptible to flat sour spoilage. The lack of acidity provides a conducive environment for the growth of heat-resistant bacteria.
Preventing Flat Sour:
Proper Canning Techniques: To prevent flat sour, it is crucial to follow proper canning techniques. This includes ensuring that the canned product is heated adequately during processing, reaching temperatures that effectively eliminate harmful bacteria.
Acidification: For low-acid foods, adding acidifying agents such as lemon juice or vinegar can help create an environment hostile to heat-resistant bacteria.
Using High-Quality Ingredients: Start with fresh, high-quality produce to minimize the risk of flat sour development. Inspect fruits and vegetables for signs of spoilage before canning.
Maintain Cleanliness: Maintain a clean and sanitized environment throughout the canning process. Sterilize jars, lids, and utensils to reduce the likelihood of introducing harmful microorganisms.
Follow Recommended Processing Times: Adhere strictly to recommended processing times for each type of food. Over-processing can lead to degradation of quality, while under-processing may allow bacteria to survive.
Flat sour is a potential pitfall in the art of canning, but with careful attention to detail and adherence to proper techniques, it can be effectively prevented. Canners should prioritize cleanliness, choose high-quality ingredients, and follow established guidelines to ensure the safety and flavor of their canned products. By understanding the causes of flat sour and implementing preventive measures, individuals can enjoy the benefits of home-canned goods with confidence in their quality and taste.
However, my journey into preserving the essence of mandarins has led me to a crucial revelation: the necessity of supreming the citrus (eliminating the pith and tough membranes) for unparalleled enjoyment. Delving into extensive research, I've discovered a pre-canning technique that transforms the mandarin preparation process – treating the peeled mandarin sections with pectinase.
Pectinase, an enzyme with remarkable capabilities, has found its way into the hearts of citrus enthusiasts by simplifying the process of removing the pith and tough membranes from citrus fruits. Derived from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi, this enzyme plays a pivotal role in breaking down pectin, a complex polysaccharide that gives structure to plant cell walls. In
this article, we delve into what pectinase is and how it can be effectively used to enhance the citrus eating experience.
How Pectinase Works: Pectin, a complex carbohydrate found in the cell walls of plants, creates a mesh-like structure that provides rigidity. In citrus fruits, pectin is concentrated in the pith and membranes, making them challenging to remove. Pectinase acts as a catalyst in the hydrolysis of pectin, breaking it down into smaller molecules. This enzymatic action weakens the structural integrity of the pith and membranes, making them more susceptible to mechanical separation.
Using Pectinase for Citrus Fruit:
1. Selecting the Right Pectinase Product: Start by choosing a high-quality pectinase product suitable for food applications. Ensure that it is derived from safe and approved sources and follow the recommended dosage instructions provided by the manufacturer.
2. Preparing the Citrus Fruit: Wash the citrus fruit thoroughly to remove any dirt or contaminants. Peel the citrus and break it up into the sections of the fruit, exposing the pith and membranes that need to be removed. Place fruit in a container.
3. Application of Pectinase: Following the manufacturer's recommendation, add pectinase and water to cover the fruit. Allow the enzyme to work for a recommended duration, which may vary depending on the product.
4. Mechanical Separation: Once the pectinase has had time to act, use gentle mechanical pressure or utensils to separate the softened pith and membranes from the fruit. The enzymatic action should make this process more effortless compared to traditional methods.
5. Rinsing and Enjoying: Rinse the fruit segments thoroughly to remove any residual enzyme solution. You are now left with citrus segments that are free from the undesirable pith and tough membranes. Enjoy your citrus fruit without the hassle. The fruit is now read to eat or preserve.
Benefits of Using Pectinase:
Improved Efficiency: Pectinase significantly accelerates the removal of pith and membranes, streamlining the preparation process and saving time in the kitchen.
Enhanced Quality: The enzymatic action of pectinase results in a cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing presentation of citrus segments, contributing to an enhanced dining experience.
Consistent Results: Using pectinase ensures a more consistent outcome, as the enzymatic activity is predictable and reproducible when following recommended guidelines.
Pectinase stands as a game-changer for citrus lovers seeking an efficient and hassle-free method to remove the pith and tough membranes from their favorite fruits. By harnessing the power of this remarkable enzyme, individuals can enjoy the pure, unadulterated goodness of citrus without the unwanted textures that often accompany the traditional peeling process. As the popularity of pectinase grows, it is poised to become an indispensable tool in the kitchen, bringing joy to citrus enthusiasts and culinary enthusiasts alike.
Images courtesy of Sherida Phibbs
Recipe and Image Resource Ball https://www.ballmasonjars.com/blog?cid=honey-orange-slices-canning-oranges-recipes-ballr-fresh-preserving
Makes about 3 have pint jars (8 oz)
Prep: 1.5 hours Processing Time: 10 Minutes
3 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
1-1/2 tsp whole cloves
1-1/2 tsp whole allspice
2-1/2 lbs oranges, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, ends and seeds discarded (about 8 medium)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1-1/4 cups liquid honey
3 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice
1. Tie cinnamon stick pieces, cloves and allspice in a square of cheesecloth, creating a spice bag. Set aside.
2. Combine oranges with water to cover in a large stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until peel is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3. Combine sugar, honey and lemon juice in a clean large stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Add reserved spice bag and oranges. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently until orange slices are well glazed, about 40 minutes. Discard spice bag.
4. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set bands aside.
5. Pack hot oranges into hot jars, using a slotted spoon, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle hot syrup into hot jar to cover oranges leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
6. Process jars as indicated in chart below. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
Boiling Water or Atmospheric Steam Canning Chart
|Style of Pack
|1,001 -6,000 ft
|Above 6,000 ft
- Author: Sherida Phibbs (vol)
Unlock the Secrets of Sauerkraut and Yogurt-Making with UCCE San Joaquin Master Food Preservers Colleen and Barbara on Saturday February 17th! Virtual Zoom Class 10am-Noon. Sign up for our Newsletter for registration link or Follow us on Facebook.
Serving Ideas Galore Unlock the potential of your creations with a variety of serving ideas that will elevate your fermented delights. Get ready to impress your taste buds and those of your loved ones!
When purchasing or using beeswax food wraps, it's essential to check with the manufacturer to ensure that the materials and ingredients used comply with safety standards for food contact. Some manufacturers may provide information on their product packaging or websites regarding the safety and composition of their beeswax wraps.
Environmentally Friendly: Beeswax cloth is a sustainable and biodegradable option. Unlike plastic wraps, which contribute to pollution and take years to decompose, beeswax wraps break down naturally, reducing the environmental impact. Plastic wrap is generally not biodegradable, and it can persist in the environment for a long time. Many plastic products take hundreds of years to break down, leading to environmental concerns.
Reusable: One of the significant advantages of beeswax cloth is its reusability. With proper care, these wraps can be used for up to a year. This reduces the need for single-use plastics, contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Breathable and Flexible: Beeswax wraps are breathable, allowing food to stay fresh for longer periods without the risk of condensation. They are also flexible and can easily conform to the shape of various containers, providing a versatile alternative to plastic wrap.
Natural Preservation: The antimicrobial properties of beeswax and jojoba oil help preserve food naturally. This can extend the shelf life of certain products and reduce food waste.
Customizable: Beeswax wraps are available in various sizes and patterns, allowing users to choose wraps that suit their needs and preferences. This adds a touch of personalization to sustainable living.
Limited Lifespan: While beeswax wraps are reusable, they do have a limited lifespan. After extended use, the wraps can lose their effectiveness, and the beeswax coating may wear off, requiring replacement.
Not Suitable for All Foods: Beeswax wraps are not recommended for use with raw meat or hot items, as the heat can melt the wax coating. This limitation may affect their practicality in certain cooking and food storage scenarios.
Initial Cost: The upfront cost of purchasing beeswax wraps may be higher compared to traditional plastic wrap. However, the long-term savings from reusability can offset this initial investment.
Care and Maintenance: Beeswax wraps require proper care to maintain their functionality. Cleaning them with cold water and mild soap is necessary, and they should be stored away from heat sources to prevent the wax from melting.
Limited Availability: While the popularity of beeswax wraps is increasing, they may not be as readily available as traditional plastic wrap in all locations. This could pose a challenge for those looking to make an immediate switch.
DIY: Making your own beeswax cloths is a rewarding and sustainable DIY project that allows you to reduce waste and customize the wraps according to your needs. Here's a simple step-by-step guide on how to make your own beeswax cloths:
The recipe ration for making beeswax cloths can vary based on personal preference and the desired characteristics of the wraps. However, a commonly used ration is: Beeswax 1 part, Jojoba Oil 1 part, Tree Resin typically around ¼ to ½ part. This is the general guideline, and you can adjust the ratio based on factors such as the fabric type, the level of stickiness you desire, and the climate in your area. Keep in mind that adding more tree resin can increase the tackiness of the wraps.
When melting these ingredients together, it's essential to achieve a smooth mixture and to start with a small batch to test the results. It's a bit of trial and error until you end up with the results you desire.
Cotton Fabric: Choose a lightweight, 100% cotton fabric. Cut it into the desired sizes for your wraps. Popular choices include squares or rectangles ranging from small to large.
Beeswax: The primary ingredient. It provides the wraps with a water-resistant and protective coating. Purchase natural and pure beeswax. You can find beeswax in blocks, pellets, or grated form. Ensure it is free from additives and other substances.
Jojoba Oil: Adds Flexibility to the wraps, preventing them from becoming too stiff. It also helps in distributing the wax evenly on fabric. It's an important ingredient in the wax mixture. Get a high-quality, organic jojoba oil.
Tree Resin (Optional): Improves the adhesiveness of the wraps. If you prefer wraps that stick firmly to surfaces, you can add a small amount of food grade tree resin. While optional, it can be added for improved adhesion. Look for food-grade resin.
Parchment Paper: Protect your work surface by using parchment paper during the waxing process.
Grater and Double Boiler: A grater for grating bulk beeswax and a double boiler for melting beeswax works well.
Brush or Cloth: A brush or old cloth is needed to evenly distribute the wax mixture onto the fabric.
Cut Fabric: Cut your cotton fabric into the desired sizes. Make sure the fabric is clean and free from any residues.
Prepare Work Area: Cover your work surface with parchment paper to protect it from the beeswax. Ensure good ventilation.
Melt Beeswax: If using a grater, grate the beeswax. If using a double boiler, melt the beeswax. Add jojoba oil (and tree resin if desired) to the melted beeswax and stir well to create a smooth mixture.
Apply Wax Mixture: Place a fabric piece on the parchment paper. Using a brush or cloth, evenly distribute the wax mixture over the fabric. Make sure to cover the entire surface, reaching the edges.
Remove Excess Wax: Lift the fabric and allow excess wax to drip off. You want a thin, even coating. Be careful not to oversaturate the fabric.
Set and Cool: Allow the wraps to cool and the wax to solidify. This usually takes a few minutes. You can hang them or lay them flat during this process.
Test and Adjust: Once cooled, test the wraps by folding and shaping them around various items. If needed, you can add more wax to areas that may seem thin.
Store and Use: Your homemade beeswax cloths are now ready to use. Store them in a cool place and use them for wrapping food, covering containers, or any other use you would typically use plastic wrap for.
Care and Maintenance:
- Wash the wraps with mild soap and cold water. Avoid hot water, as it can melt the wax.
- Air-dry the wraps after washing.
- Refresh the wraps by reapplying the wax mixture if they lose their stickiness over time.
In conclusion, beeswax cloth offers a promising eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap, with its reusable and biodegradable nature. However, users should be aware of its limitations, such as a finite lifespan and specific usage restrictions. Ultimately, incorporating beeswax wraps into daily life can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally conscious lifestyle, provided users are willing to embrace the learning curve associated with their used.