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Monday, October 4, 2010

Please don't can like Grandma

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

Canning and home preserving in general is making a huge comeback. And many times we turn to the past for guidance. Or better yet, Grandma is still alive and happy to gift you with her canning supplies that were so important to her in the day. Here is where it gets touchy.

1940's - 1950's era aluminum food mill.

Grandma wants to pass the torch, which many times can be wonderful. And while you can heed the warnings about old canning time tables and methods, you can use newer guidelines for longer processing times and safer methods without hurting her feelings, not using her favorite food mill may spark a little resentment. Many times Grandma wants to know that you are using her tools that meant to so much to her in a earlier era. Some relics are best delegated to display only. For instance anything made from aluminum that will come in contact with your foods, such as pots and pans, food mills, and funnels. Especially high acid foods like applesauce, fruits and fruit butters, and tomato products, which just so happen to be the most popular foods that people can.

High acid foods will react with the aluminum and impart a metallic taste to your food, and maybe some discoloration. You have to figure since you can taste it in your food, you're ingesting it and since aluminum has been linked to many diseases from Alzheimer's to cancer it best not to use it. Look for non-reactive tools for your canning efforts.

You can still honor Grandma by accepting her advice, and displaying her antiques, and buying yourself some new preserving gear that will last your lifetime. Stainless steel is a wonderful substitute, and will last a long time and become the new heirloom for you to pass on to your family. Happy canning!

17 comments:

Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen said...

Thanks, Nita...I have an old aluminum mill like the one pictured, from my husband's grandma (who died many years ago and won't be asking us if we use it), that I think we'll finally stop storing now. I use an attachment to my KitchenAid for making sauce. My dad bought it for me years ago when I first started canning and it is WONDERFUL. I can press seeds and pulp through it multiple times, really reducing the waste to almost nothing. I pressed 25 pounds of roasted tomatoes recently and in the end, only had a cup of very dry seeds and skin left for the chickens.

Hayden said...

Solid advice. I've gotten almost all of the aluminum and plastic out of my kitchen, but there are still traces. And now that I think of it, I think the discs of my food mill are - aluminum. Yeech.

Bureinato said...

What I've wondered about is the old zinc covered steel. I've got an old (now called vintage) foley food mill. I haven't found anything for or against it.

Jan Hatchett said...

Agreed. Those of us who do preserve foods want the very best quality for our families, so it's not worth it to scrimp here.

Our grannies used the very best available to them and we should as well. You don't have to spend lots of money to do well and your family will benefit from the quality.

Gardenatrix said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately, and a theme I've been exploring in my own writing.

I think we should certainly honor the past, and let the tales of our grandparents deepen and enrich what we do. But modern homesteading is also about creating a future -- a call to mindfully create the world we want, not to mindlessly replicate what our foremothers and forefathers did.

LindaG said...

I remember helping my granny do the apples in just such a mill. Don't remember the sauce tasting funny, but perhaps it was just too old to notice. Thanks for the tip though. Now if we could just get that unsafe stuff off the shelves of the stores...

Chile said...

Any suggestions for a replacement for the chinois food mill? I can't stand the Foley mills, don't have a KitchenAid/attachments, and really prefer to do this stuff by hand. The Italian mill I used for tomatoes (pictured in this post worked okay but was messy and I still got more liquid when I put the remaining pulp through the Chinois.

I've seen stainless steel strainers shaped like the Chinois. Has anyone tried one of those with the wood pestle?

The Younger Rachael said...

I got one of these when I got all my canning supplies (via freecycle) didn't realize it was aluminum. I also don't remember the pizza sauce tasting funny. But I'll see about switching it out for something better for us. Any recommendations?

Anonymous said...

I'd be more concerned with cooking acidic foods in an aluminum utensil than running cool foods through an aluminum food mill. Food doesn't sit for long periods of time in a food mill and leach out as much as it would in a pot. I prefer stainless steel food mill, but if aluminum was what I had to work with I'd still use it.

Rosa said...

Chile, I mostly don't use a mill because I peel things for sauce (apples & tomatos) - I have a fancy schmancy corer-peeler that has made every part of apple season easier.

there are tomato seeds in my sauce & ketchup, but nobody's complained.

Pink Feather Paradise said...

Thank you... I have been given an alluminium preserving pan and I was not sure if I should use it... I shall now purchase a stainless steel one!
x Alex

eatclosetohome said...

At one of my canning workshops recently, one of the participants (who is a researcher in medical materials) told me that about five years ago, they definitively disproved the "aluminum is dangerous" assertion. She said it's actually one of the safest metals to use in your kitchen - leaches far less into your food than, say, cast iron or anything non-stick.

I still can't bring myself to stew tomatoes in an aluminum pot, though...

Sense of Home said...

Excellent advice! Just because it was used or done in the past does not make it a good idea.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Thanks all, for wonderful comments, as with anything there are always differing opinions, and studies to disprove anything. It's always a choice and usually by the time anyone changes something in their lifestyle, another study is done to disprove the first disproving study. Many things have been studied to death, and proved "safe" - pesticides, chemical fertilizers, nuclear power plants, fluoride, chlorine, feeding chicken manure to cattle, etc.

This reminds me of a blog post on another cooperative blog a few years ago. The poster wanted to know if she should take the conventionally grown apples her mother was gifting her, or risk the angst of trying to explain the organic vs. conventional to her mom who had after all eaten these apples her whole life and lived in an area known for orchards. Several said, dont' eat the apples, or cook them and explain, most said, don't hurt mom's feelings, and take the apples. I never followed up on that particular post, but I do know that now that mom has cancer. So was it the apples? No probably not those apples, but actually many, many things over time over time that all add up.

So it is everyone's choice everyday to do what feels the most right to them. To many the convenience and low-fat cooking aspect of a non-stick pan is more important than ingesting a little bit of low fat non-stick each time they use the pan.

I make chunky applesauce anyway, so that's not a problem, but guess what? My Villaware foodmill has an aluminum body, plastic hopper and auger and stainless steel screens, and I love it and haven't to able to find a suitable substitute.

Sandy L said...

The reason many people's aluminum milled foods probably didn't taste tinny is chemical reactions are affected by time and temperature.

So, if you're milling something acidy and it's cold, it won't react as much as if it was hot.

Similarly to what anonymous says, time is the other factor. Chemical reactions may be slow moving but if the items are in contact long enough you'll also get the effect.

So, if you're milling something quickly and it's cold, you'll minimize the opportunity for a reaction.

lepidilla said...

That aluminum fruit press is still available for sale in local hardware stores near where I live. I bought mine in the '70's; have used it to remove seeds from fruit for jam making and for straining applesauce every year ever since I bought it. I have never detected an off taste or had any complaints about my products. I am more concerned about getting plastics out of my life than aluminum. Aluminum may turn out to be unhealthy but I would not agree that it affects taste.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Lepidilla, interestingly enough, when I wrote about getting plastic out of my food supply here, I got negative comments about that also. The percentage was about same, most were in favor of using less plastic if possible and several were kinda nasty...demanding proof that plastic was harmful or that my personal health problems possibly due to plastic were too insignificant to speak about.
http://simple-green-frugal-co-op.blogspot.com/2010/02/plastic-in-my-food.html