Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Harvest Time

Seems like harvest is all summer long here! We started with cherries and apricots. Now corn and beans and tomatoes are coming in. Peaches, nectarines and plums too. Well, almost everything is out at the Farmers' Markets now.

I love preserving food, knowing we'll have locally grown, organic produce all winter long. We do huge days of canning, freezing and drying. But we also work on a smaller scale when we only have a little. We had excess kale so we put aside a few bags to freeze. And I was gifted a giant zucchini so I baked with some, froze the rest. It got me thinking that many people don't have time or the knowledge to put food by. Of course, getting 50 lbs of tomatoes and spending a weekend preserving it would be great, but if you can't, the effort is still worth it. Here are some tips:

1. For a family of 4- but a dozen cobs of corn instead of 6 for each week they're at the market. Cook it all (3 minutes in boiling water is all you need.) Eat what you normally would, then cut the kernels off the other cobs and put aside a few bags for winter.

2. Buy an extra bunch of kale or spinach at the market. Cut off the stems, chop it to desired size, and put in bags to use in smoothies and other recipes calling for frozen spinach (go ahead and use kale instead).

3. Get a few extra tomatoes, chop them and freeze in bags. Thaw them when you want a tomato sauce. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, then add pureed tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. Simmer until reduced to desired consistency. It takes a while. Do this on a winter weekend day. It will keep in the fridge for a week after cooking, so you can use it on any week day following.

4. For any fruit, buy an extra pint, bag, basket....whatever. You can rinse and dry on paper towels, pit, chop, peel as needed, then bag and freeze for smoothies, chia jam (thaw, mix with chia, let sit overnight, enjoy on pancakes, oatmeal...), whatever .

Just buying a few extra things each week will add up over the course of the summer, and won't dominate your weekends.

What tips do you have to preserve the harvest?

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