tea time

Grab a cup of tea and join us for our Saturday discussion, “tea time”. We would love to hear from you, too. If you have something to contribute to this conversation, please leave a comment below. Enjoy.

Robin ponders

we’re knee deep in it now, food preservation goes on throughout the year, but it reaches epic proportions here at the peak of summer. my question to you friends, tell me about your most used, tried and true, foods preserved for winter’s eating. there are so many choices out there: canning, freezing, drying, fermenting. there are so many tastes of summer that we want to hold onto and dip into during the cold months. so, what do you do? what are the must haves? this is an interesting question for me to ponder in the midst of our worst tomato year ever, for canned whole tomatoes are the top shelf around here. friends, why not share some recipes, new ideas, old stand bys. oops, gotta run, my timer is going off which means  it’s time to pull my batch of sriracha from the canner!

cher replies… well, robin, you know I’m so sorry that you’re having a challenging year with the tomatoes. But I know you won’t go hungry, with so much other goodness to be had from your gardens and high-tunnel(s!)… Without the tomatoes, your winter diet will just have a minor shift this year, that’s all. So, aside from the tomatoes, which I can in all ways possible just like you, there are so many other preserving possibilities for winter fare.

Freezing tops my list. It’s just so easy to freeze food, and more of the nutrients are retained compared to canning (and pressure canning in particular). A few years ago we purchased a chest freezer, which a neighbor so kindly allows us to plug in to his power (we can’t power a freezer with our tiny solar system) as long as we bring him some eggs or lettuce from time to time. Now the pressure canner has found it’s place among our lesser used items stored in the barn. Pretty much any non-acidic food that I used to can under pressure is now frozen instead: corn, beans, roasted red peppers, etc. Fruit is particularly easy to freeze, and particularly easy to enjoy in the dark days of winter.

And then there’s fermentation. I’m a little obsessed with fermentation, but I only scratch the surface as far as the possibilities go. I know I could do so much more, but haven’t experimented that much yet. We basically stick with our tried and true kimchi, of which we make gallons and gallons, and it lasts all the way through the winter and well into spring. And once the fresh lettuce comes in, we are usually ready for the change.

Coree adds…  

ditto that.  All of it.  As sad as it is to not have tomatoes, you can always just make more pesto.  That’s one of our favorites, hands down.  It freezes in manageable portions and goes good on almost everything.

I put up enough tomatoes, pickles, and jams to get us through.  The fruit is so good this year we’re canning and freezing all we get our hands on.  As a special aside, we like a raisin apple chutney to go on our rice and dahl in the winter. If it’s a good year for apples, we make a big load of applesauce, too.

When hunting season rolls around, we’ve taken to pressure canning some of our meat, so that we don’t have to run to town for meat from the freezer.  I also pressure can some venison and poultry stock at some point for easy access.  That’s about the extent of our pressure canning.

Fermentation is great.  We like the basics – sauerkraut and kimchi.  Funny, I have no taste for them now, but in the mid-winter they sure are yummy.  We also enjoy a very simple fermented radish relish.  It’s simply grated daikon with salt.  Some batches I add ginger and garlic and onion.  It’s all delicious.  We ferment our hot sauces, then freeze them in small batches, holding one out in the fridge for everyday use.

We also freeze green beans, corn, peppers, roasted eggplant and fruits.  On a year when the greens don’t thrive, we really get into them.  Some years they hardly get touched.  Better safe than sorry.

It boggles my mind to think about it all – it is the work at hand!


6 thoughts on “tea time

  1. I froze gallon after gallon of potatoes this year. Peel ’em, chop them into 1″ cubs, blanch ’em for just 1-2 minutes and then freeze in big gallon ziplocks. Lay them flat and they freeze stackable. It’s just like grocery frozen veggies, too. I just grab a handful here and there and toss ’em in a soup or a curry.

  2. I’m a big fan of canning. Freezing is great, but I don’t have a chest freezer and worry about losing my bounty should we lose power for an extended period of time. Canned peaches are a winter staple for me. Nothing brightens a cold January morning like a bowl of peaches and cream oatmeal.

    • Sounds lovely. And, yes, a power outage would be devastating. I’ve concluded that if that were to ever happen here, I would then can all of my frozen goods just as fast as I could!!!

  3. I want to say to Cher that she might look at the Sundanzer freezer by Electrolux. We have a twelve volt one on our small solar system and it only uses the per day equivalent of a 60 watt lightbulb being left on for eight hours. Even when we get our batteries too low to do much at the house the freezer keeps going.

    But for the question at hand . . . I am blessed with an abundance of tomatoes this year and am canning them as fast as I can. I have a pretty strong focus on pasta sauce to satisfy my Italian men, but put away plenty of stewed tomatoes as well. I think I will do whole peeled tomatoes this year for the first time (normally I peel nothing, call me lazy) but what I love most to make is ketchup. We don’t even use that much of it, but I make it any chance I get. This year I am using the recipe from Preserving Food (by The Gardeners of Terre Vivante) for ketchup with a little added sugar, and it is knock your teeth out good! I want to make one batch with only yellow tomatoes with a little different spicing!

    • Hey Barb, thanks for the freezer info. I didn’t realize the sundanzer’s energy usage was that low. Maybe, just maybe, we could pull that off. Funny, though, that even after having doubled our battery bank last year, and adding 100 more watts of panel, we still seem to use all that we produce. Isn’t that just the American way? Ha!
      I like to make a ketchup with nothing but sun gold cherry tomatoes. It’s awesome.

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