Good Tips for preserving pork in the freezer for a long time

Frozen Piggy

You may have just come from a buying binge, and guess what you bought? Pork and lots of pork. You definitely cannot eat all of it in one sitting. What do you do now? You preserve it. Here are ways you can keep the pork meat from spoiling over a long period of time.

REFRIGERATING raw pork may preserve it up to just 3 days. If it is already cured ham, it may stay up to 4 days. Hotdogs, bacon and smoked sausages may keep up to 7 days.

If you want to let it stay longer, FREEZING is one good solution. Your freezer has to be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Make sure you use plastic packaging that is food grade and for freezer use. This material is a bit thicker than the usual plastic bag. You can also use freezer paper which you wrap around your pork, with the waxed side close to the meat. Pork meat can last up to 6 months frozen.

If you are not in a hurry to consume your pork, you can BRINE it, which takes a bit longer than salting. Cut the pork into slabs and place in a jar. Make brine from 3 quarts of water, 1 lb of pickling salt and half a cup of brown sugar. Pour this over the pork that is inside the jar, making sure it is covered all the way. Store the jar in a cool area with 36 degrees Fahrenheit temperature. After one week, remove the pork slab and stir the brine to mix ingredients together, and then put the pork back in. Do this every week for a month. If at any time before that the brine becomes too thick, throw the brine. Wash your pork well, and make new brine, and do the process again until you finish the month.

SALTING pork requires cutting it into slabs then using pickling salt and brown sugar. For storage, you can use jars. For 12 lbs of pork, you mix half pound of the pickling salt and one-fourth cup of brown sugar. Spread this liberally over the pork. Cover it with cheesecloth and place inside the jars. Store the jars in an area with temperature of 36 – 38 degrees Fahrenheit, where it can stay for a month. Don’t freeze it; just put the jar in that cool area.

CANNING is not limited to fruits and vegetables. Cook the meat in high temperature to kill the bacteria. Then put it inside cans to store.

A pork jerky is done by DEHYDRATING the pork meat. Slice the pork no bigger than one-fourth inch. Discard the fatty portions as these spoil easily. Tenderize the meat, then marinate with salt, spices, oil, vinegar or lemon juice, or wine. Place the marinated meat inside the refrigerator overnight. Heat the meat by boiling it for 5 minutes. Drain it dry on paper towels. Then place the pork slices on dehydrator trays or if you are using the oven, place on cake racks on baking sheets. You may use the oven at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or the dehydrator. You would know it is done when the meat cracks, but only bends, and not breaks. It may take 10 – 24 hours, but start checking on your meat after 3 hours. When it is dried up, remove oil by patting it with paper towel. Cool the pork strips, then place in jars or food-grade plastic bags. You can also vacuum seal it for added longevity.

Before you perform any of the preservation methods, make sure you have quality pork, and your preparations use clean utensils and materials. Fresh pork is pinkish and has no smell. If it has a ‘best before’ date, follow it. Jars have to be washed thoroughly, or if you are re-using an old one, sterilize it. Plastic bags have to be food grade, and if you are using the freezer, it should be freezer-safe, too. Otherwise, the bag might break and contaminate everything else inside, and your pork meat will be contaminated by the others, too. Wash your hands and wash the pork itself. Use different tools when handling raw meat and cooked meat.

If you want to enjoy your meat with less hassle, freezing is the best option. Remember, once you defrost it, don’t refreeze.

Chicken Joys

Chicken Joys

Most fast foods sell fried chicken.  It’s probably the world favorite anywhere.  In a foreign country, you can never go wrong if you order fried chicken.

Why you Need to Eat Chicken

  • It helps in the protection of cells and strengthening of immune system since it is rich in selenium;
  • It is good source of protein;
  • Vitamin B6 is present in chicken meat, which is essential for the production of anti-bodies, insulin and hemoglobin;

Chicken Parts

Understandably, the most popular is the drumstick.  However, in some Asian countries, almost all the parts of the chicken are eaten.

  • Breast is good source of white meat, so it’s the healthier part, although relatively dry;
  • Leg is composed of the drumstick, which is the lower leg, and the thigh, or the upper leg;
  • Wings are another favorite, served as Buffalo wings.       It is actually composed of three parts, the drumette which is a miniature drumstick, the flat part with two bones, and the tip, which is most often not used;
  • Chicken feet has little meat, mostly just skin and cartilage, but is an exotic favorite in China and other Asian countries;
  • Organs like heart, liver and gizzards can also be grilled or cooked in a soup;
  • Head is another Chinese delicacy, with the brains and other tissues also eaten;
  • Neck, which barely has meat , but can be used for soup;
  • Buttocks is a fatty portion, and is a favorite when barbecued;
  • By-products of the chicken like blood and carcass are also used.       Blood drained immediately after slaughter can be used for soup, or eaten as it is after grilled. Carcass is practically bones after flesh is removed, and is still used for soup or to make chicken stock.

Choosing Good Chicken

Chicken can be bought anywhere, and there seems to be no scarcity for it.  But you have to know how to choose good quality:

  • Check the wrapping on the chicken that is clear and tight. If it looks like it has been opened, leave it. it may have already been contaminated by other foods inside the freezer;
  • Newly slaughtered chicken has pink flesh. If it is grayish or looks transparent, it means it has been in the freezer for a while;
  • Buy chicken with skin that has no tears or damage. if it has, the meat inside spoils faster;
  • If you see blood, it doesn’t mean it is fresh. It may have already been handled many times, or has been frozen and thawed over and over again;
  • A fresh chicken has skin and flesh that springs back when pressed.       If it is hard or tough, or sinks, it’s an old stock;
  • If a chicken looks bloated, it must have had a water injection to plump it up. You will not be getting your money’s worth if you buy it;
  • Smell the chicken. It should not have any smell;

Before Cooking the Chicken

When you get home from buying it, store it in the freezer.  Don’t leave it at room temperature.  To save time when you are ready to cook, it is also good to divide it into servings before putting inside containers.

When you are ready to cook it, remove from the freezer hours before, defrost in the refrigerator, not in the sink.  If you are such in a rush, you can microwave it.

Understanding Bird Flu

Chicken meat took a nosedive for a while, when Asia was hit with the Bird Flu, also known as Avian Influenza.  It affected poultry animals like chicken, ducks and turkeys. This virus killed so many birds, and eventually, also killed many people who consumed the affected birds, especially its blood, and those who came into contact with the sick bird’s excrements.

This viral disease, however, has been contained, and we can go back to eating our delicious chicken.

ALL BULL: What you Need to Know about Beef

ALL BULL: What you Need to Know about Beef

Beef comes from cattle.  It refers to meat from steers or bulls or heifers.

Beef is a good source of zinc, protein, phosphorus, iron and B-Complex Vitamins.  We need zinc for a strong immune system.  Protein gives us muscles and strength.  Phosphorus is the source of strong bones.  Iron prevents fatigue by making sure oxygen is carried throughout our body via our blood system.  B-Complex aids in releasing the energy from the food we eat.

While a good, thick steak gets us drooling, there are, however, some risks when eating beef.

  • It can clog up the artery because of its cholesterol and saturated fat, resulting to heart ailments.
  • You can be exposed to Mad Cow Disease, which is actually a disease affecting the nervous system of cattle, particularly the brain and spinal cord. Humans cannot get this disease; however, eating meat infected with Mad Cow Disease can get you the human form of it, known as the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Humans affected manifest behavioral changes, memory lapses, movement deficits and cognitive impairments.

What to Eat

Only the brain and spinal cord are off limits.  Otherwise, the other parts of the cattle can be thoroughly enjoyed.  Here are the more favorite parts and what you can do with them:

  • CHUCK: It refers to a group of muscles in the cow’s shoulders, which are heavily-worked. Since it is thick, the best way to soften it is by slow-cooking for several hours. This part makes a good pot roast, stew or barbecue.
  • BRISKET: It is a fatty part of the cow’s chest, under the front leg. It is a bit tough to cook, but with patience, it makes a good barbecue, pot roast or corned beef.
  • TOP SIRLOIN: This is found in the lower back, right on the upper portion of the butt. Specifically, it is the cross-section of a whole portion of the sirloin, and is most used for steak. This is a lean part so it is healthier than most.
  • SHORT RIB. This is a tough and fatty part, but excellent for burgers. This part of the cow is from a larger cut called ‘short plate’. From the name itself, this makes a great barbecue ribs.
  • FLANK STEAK. This is the underbelly of the cow, and is lean with a mild flavor. This marinates and sears fast – the makings of a great steak.

What to Buy

You have to trust a butcher who knows his beef.  Patronize a butcher who strictly abides by laws and regulations about meat purchase or slaughter of cattle.  Here are a few more tips to take note of:

  • Buy fresh. A bright pink look means it is not fresh;
  • Parts of the cattle that are heavily worked, like the shoulders should be red in color;
  • Buy a good mix of fat and lean. Fat gives the flavor; lean gives the good health;

After you labor over the fire to get the perfect steak or barbecue, sit back with your red wine or beer and enjoy.  Bon appétit!

The Trending Star: Vegetables

The Trending Star: Vegetables

Vegetables did not enjoy the publicity and fame before this.  Thanks to juicing as the new diet trends among big stars, the spotlight has now turned to vegetables.

Juicing the Vegetables

Juicing is removing the juice from fruits and vegetables, making it easier for the body to absorb the nutrients from these healthy foods.  Your energy is not wasted on chewing or digesting, so the nutrients are all absorbed and energizes you quickly.

Not all vegetables can be used for juicing.  The more common ones that are used are celery, beets, cucumber, carrots, cabbage, fennel, broccoli, sweet potato and wheatgrass.  You can also mix into it some herbs like mint, ginger or cilantro.

Juice from the vegetables is not so tasteful so it is best to mix it with juice from fruits like apples, oranges or berries.

The Goodness of Vegetables

Generally, all vegetables are good for the health.  It is packed with vitamins and nutrients which aid the body and its functions in so many ways.

There are so many kinds of vegetables, and each kind has its own nutritional values:

  • Leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage and spinach are rich in Vitamins B9, A and C;
  • Seed vegetables like lentils have fiber, magnesium and iron;
  • Root vegetables like carrots and turnips contain fiber and vitamin A;
  • Pod vegetables like green beans and peas are sources of vitamins B9, C and fiber;
  • Flower and bud vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are packed with fiber, vitamins A and C;
  • Fruit vegetables like zucchini, tomato and eggplant are full of fiber, vitamins B9 and C.

If you categorize the vegetables by color, green ones contain vitamin B9, vitamin C and vitamin A.  Red or orange vegetables contain Vitamin A.

Top Green Picks

Vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked.  Here are some easy ways to prepare your favorite vegetables:

  1. Sauté cooks vegetables fast and easy using very little oil. This is a healthier way of cooking because the vegetables have a short exposure to fire so their nutrients, taste and color are retained.  You can sauté onions, mushrooms and asparagus;
  2. Boiling or simmering the vegetables is pretty much the same with sauté, but this time, water is used instead of oil. Add a pinch of salt to the water to bring out the flavor.
  3. Steam the vegetables for a healthy yet flavorful meal. Because the vegetables are not submerged in water, like in boiling, they retain the minerals and nutrients.  You can steam carrots, spinach and other tender vegetables.
  4. Use the vegetables for sauces, like the Spanish favorite, Romesco sauce which is a combination of roasted red peppers with almonds, olive oil, vinegar and hazel nuts. Pesto sauce is basil with peanuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese.
  5. Preserve your seasonal vegetables for the long haul using methods like salting, fermenting with salt, drying, freezing and canning.

If you are now ready to enjoy a healthy dose of vegetables, we leave you with one last tip:  plant your own vegetables.  There is a different sense of accomplishment when you pick a red tomato from your own yard.  You don’t even need a big space for it; you can plant inside old cans and put it out in your patio for some sun and rain.

An Apple a Day: Fruits are Good for You

An Apple a Day: Fruits are Good for You

Why does the quote go, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’? Why can’t it be an orange a day?

Those who coined the phrase know that apples are one of the super fruits. It’s like superheroes of all fruit kingdom. It wears a red cape and the shirt front has the letter S.

Get a cup of apples, almost 138 grams. That is a cupful of super vitamins and minerals including carbohydrates and fiber. It also contains antioxidants which protect the heart, regulate blood pressure and lowers bad cholesterol.

The Stuff for Heroes

Why are fruits good for the body?

  1. Fruits come in different flavors, but are generally delicious. Some are sweet, others are sour. You get different nutrients from different fruits;
  2. Fruits contain very low calories and fat, which well, make you fat;
  3. Fruits are rich in soluble dietary fiber. It aids in smooth bowel movements;
  4. Fruits contain anti-oxidants which create a shield around the body, protecting it from diseases and cancer;
  5. Fruits boost immunity level, especially those in vitamin C;
  6. Blue or purple fruits, in particular, are also rich in anti-oxidants which fight the free radicals in the body. These harmful toxins affect aging, and how your body fights against infections;
  7. Fruits rejuvenate organs, cells and tissues, putting lesser risk for memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and most importantly, protects from wrinkles;

Buying Fruits and Storing

Fruits come in seasons, so when you have it in abundance, it is good to store up. Here are a few reminders when buying and storing fruits:

  • Choose fruits that are firm, without blemish or soft spots on them;
  • Colors have to be shiny or bright, not dull;
  • Skin has to be tight. Over-ripe ones have dry skin;
  • Wash fruits immediately after purchase. Prepare a soak of salt and water, rinse your fruits in there for a bit, before washing them under running cold water;
  • A right wash will remove the residual chemicals that may have been sprayed on them;
  • As much as possible, eat the fruits right away, unless you really intend to can them or make baby food out of them;
  • If you plan to store them, pat them dry with paper towel before putting inside a zip food bag. If you can vacuum seal it, then put inside refrigerator or freezer;
  • If you plan to save them for a short time, like a day or two, you can pat them dry and store in the crisper of your refrigerator.

Ways to cook a Fruit

  • Grilling or Broiling
  • Roasting
  • Sautéing
  • Baking

When you are cooking fruits, try to have the same sizes so they cook at the same time. You can poach the fruit before cooking to allow the flavors to seep in. It is best to use spices for flavor, like cinnamon or ginger.   Keep watch while you cook because overcooking the fruits will make it mushy.

Finally, you can use fruits as toppings, and they really make the best ones. It’s just another vanilla ice cream until you place roasted cherries on top. Or you can have salads and side dishes featuring your fruits.

But seriously, the best way to enjoy fruits is to just bite into it fresh from the tree.

Fish Tales

Fish Tales

Fish and chips. If you are British, you patriotically enjoy this. If you are not British, you may be curious what the hoopla is all about. Even outside the British Isles, fish and chips is one of the more famous fish recipes.

Fish refers to a golden deep-fried fish that is white and moist inside, and crispy outside.

Chips is the British term for what we more popularly know as French fries. The British like their chips hot and fluffy.

Some eat fish and chips with salt and vinegar, while some prefer pickled onion on the side.

The Fishy Goodness

The goodness of fish is their rich content of omega-3 fatty acids, which work on keeping our heart and brain healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids is abundant in sardines, black cod, salmon, mackerel and rainbow trout.

Omega-3 fatty acids that are present in fishes have these benefits:

  • lowers the blood pressure, and lowers the risks of heart attack and stroke;
  • Aids brain functions;
  • Decreases probabilities for ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and dementia;
  • Prevents arthritis.

Get the Best Fishy

The quality of the food you cook starts from the quality of the fish you buy. Here are a few tips to take note of:

  • Choose a clean market where fish is displayed in a clean area surrounded by crushed ice;
  • Choose different varieties of fish. The variety in abundance usually costs cheaper than usual because of over-supply;
  • Ask the vendor to pack your fish in a small bag with some crushed ice. It will keep a few hours if you are not going straight home;
  • You can ask your fish vendor to clean your fish, or if you’d rather do it, clean it as soon as you reach home, before refrigerating or freezing it;
  • To get the best bargain, buy whole fish, not fillet portions. You are able to get more for your money;
  • If you have more fish than you can consume, think about preserving them by canning, freezing or drying.

Storing Fishy

It is a bit of a challenge to store fish because it smells, and if you are not doing it right, it will stink your whole refrigerator or freezer. It also goes bad faster than meat products.

  • Refrigerating fish will make it last two days;
  • Storing it in the freezer can make it last up to a year;
  • Before you freeze or refrigerate, wash the fish in cold water, then pat try with a paper towel;
  • Wrap the fish in aluminum foil or wax paper, then put the whole thing inside freezer bags or zip bags before putting inside the refrigerator;
  • It is best to vacuum-seal the bag if you have a vacuum sealing system, or you can try a do-it-yourself trick using straw;

If you are ready to cook your fish, thaw it overnight inside the refrigerator, not outside like on a counter or sink. Don’t use a microwave to defrost it.

You don’t have to be British to enjoy fish. Be healthy, eat fish.

Hello, Miss Piggy

Hello, Miss Piggy

Pork refers to the meat from a pig. It is more consumed that other meat products like beef or fish or seafood. Pork can be preserved by curing and smoking. Examples of these are ham, bacon and smoked pork.

The Goodness from Pork

Pork is a good source of protein, fat and other essential amino acids.  You need protein for muscle growth. If you are trying to beef up your muscles, like those bodybuilders, you should eat pork.

Pork contains both saturated and unsaturated fats in almost equal amounts. Unsaturated fats are good for the health, and are thus called ‘good’ fats. You need fats in your body for energy, to build healthy cells and even healthier skin. Having fats in your body also provides cushion to other vital organs, like the heart and kidney, keeping them in place and avoiding injuries.

There are other vitamins and minerals that can be sourced from pork. These help the body in its various body functions, in maintaining healthy brain, strong immune system, aiding blood formation and for metabolism. These vitamins and minerals include zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus and iron.

Pork, the Villain

We all know that eating pork has been linked to heart diseases or cardiovascular diseases, which unfortunately, is the most popular cause of death worldwide. They blame pork for heart attacks, high blood pressure and strokes.

Pork, however, is not all to be blamed. Red meat is the culprit. Red meat is contained not only in pork, but more so in beef meat. It is the iron in the meat, that when consumed at high levels, may damage body cells.

Another contributor is the process of cooking the animal meat that can create compounds that can cause cancer.

When meat is processed to become ham or hotdog, it also contains excessive salt and preservatives which are harmful to the body.

Healthy Pork

But because we are carnivorous in nature, and because the smell and look of sizzling bacon or barbecued pork is just so hard to resist, we can choose to eat healthy pork instead.

Limit your red meat intake to at most, just twice a week. On most days, stay on the healthy side with vegetables and fish.

Buy lean meat. It means you are getting the parts with less fat in it;

Try to cook healthy. This requires using low-temperature cooking methods like stewing. Using the grill or broiling meat is also healthy, but marinate the meat first.

Finally, make sure you buy the best quality pork there is. The color of the meat should be pinkish-red. If it is too pale, pass up on it. If it has a few fatty parts, those parts should be white-colored, without dark spots. If it has bone attached to it, make sure the bone is not dark-colored.