Food Integrity

Heather, wife of one of the "Two Guys", taking a gardening break and eating the soup right out of the jar.

Our soups are safe to eat right from the jar.   One of our Two Guys in Vermont soup’s is a Curried Apple Butternut Squash that is bi-serveable, delicious heated or chilled!  Without sounding self-promoting, just put our glass jar in your fridge and it’s ready-to-eat when your mood strikes (I’m fond of eating right out of the jar!).  But why is this “blog worthy”?  It’s about the food.

I personally take great satisfaction knowing that the foods we put into our jars are of exceptional quality; they are authentic and fresh (we’re surrounded by rich New England fertile soil!).  We also use glass jars to package our soups.  The marriage of awesome food packaged in glass jars makes “right out of the jar” eating possible.

I often hear our soups taste “fresh” and “full of flavor” during soup samplings (music to my ears..).  We process our soups using a minimalist approach and rely on traditional food canning and preservation techniques.  We don’t practice the “soup industry” norm of package “retorting”.  Retorting is a modern commercial method that essentially “bakes” filled soup cans/containers at high temperatures for extended periods of time in order to make the canning and packaging process safe.  Although this method’s “carbon footprint” has improved over the years it is still quite energy and natural resource use intense.   The other issue the canning industry is grappling with is Bisphenol-A (BPA) leaching into metal can food contents (see Chemical and Engineering News, 6/2011).  It seems BPA, found in a great majority of metal cans inner linings (see Eden Foods:  Bisphenol-A (BPA) Free Can Lining) and high heat make the chemical unstable which results in leaching.  The issue of BPA in pre packaged foods continues to be a heated battle here in the U.S. between consumer advocacy folks and business and special interest groups.  The topic remains status quo with a “buyer beware” urgency.  Internationally, the substance continues to see its use prohibited by mandates (see EU Bans Sale of Baby Bottles Containing Bisphenol-A).  Retorting also acts to “pressure cook” canned contents which can also change food’s “crispness” or that experience of eating really fresh food.

The way we process our food is as important as the quality foods and spices we cook with.  We generally practice simple home canning methods, but upgraded for safety purposes.  Nicolas Appert is credited with inventing modern canning techniques in early 19th-century France.  Appert submitted his process for preserving food for a competition sponsored by Emperor Napoleon.   Napoleon was interested in finding a more functional way to pack food for foreign battlefields.  Appert declared that he “developed a reliable way for meats, vegetables, fruits, gravies, and soups, to last in the same excellent state for at least a year.”  Our cooking process is inspired by this method-

We prepare and cook fresh fruits & veggies, and we rely on real acidic foods such as apples, tomatoes, ciders and vinegars for their abilities to naturally regulate food acidity.  We cook at a safe lower temperature range threshold, as outlined by FDA Best Practices, then we transfer from kettle to glass jars and ensure another safety step, an air-tight seal.

I certainly don’t mean to imply that other canned soups don’t practice high standards of food integrity; I just can’t think of any that I’d eat right out of the jar.