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.
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.
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!