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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Preserving Summer's Bounty

I do not know if you have had the opportunity to read Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, but it is a good one.  It is a memoir about her family's experiment with eating only locally grown foods for an entire year.  Basically she talks about the benefits to the environment, local economy, and your health to eat locally produced food year round.  So how do you eat local vegetables year round in temperate climates such as Massachusetts for example?  Good question!  Barbara Kingsolver helps you discover some of the answers in her book. 

I read the book last summer and it has made a lasting impact on how I view the summer's bountiful harvest and decided that this year I will not squander it!!!  So this year I have preserved the following locally grown treats to last me into the fall/winter months: 

In my freezer: 
This year:  blueberries, green peppers, corn from the cob, tomato sauce, basil pesto, and green beans
Last year:  blueberries, cranberries, green peppers and basil pesto

In my pantry:
This year:  blueberry jam, tomato sauce, salsa, quartered tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and soon to be grape jelly, dried garlic
Last year:  Grape jelly and dried garlic

In my refrigerator:  I made pickles this year!  They only last 2 months, but it helped me utilize those cucumbers for a longer part of the summer!

Now, it is important to note that I do not have that much compared to the quantity that Barbara Kingsolver has in her book. I also do not have a lot compared to the amazing men/women who have been doing this for years. I also cannot live off of just this food for the whole winter (and it really isn't the point).  The point is that I am starting small and learning new things each year. Each year I intend to do a little bit more and learn something else that is new so I can build my winter stash.  This year, if you noticed, I did more than last year.  I did a little bit each month in the early summer, and in August I did some each week! 

Last winter with the little that I did do, it felt amazing when I pulled the veggies out of the freezer or opened a new jar of jelly that I had made out of the grapes from my yard.  I felt more connected to the food I was eating and the earth that I was protecting, if even in a very small way. 

So have you ever preserved anything to last from the summer and into the winter?  If not, then why not try it?  It only takes a little effort to grab a few extra peppers or ears of corn at the farmer's market or farm stand and cut them up and put them in your freezer.  Start small and see how it goes, you just may get hooked on local foods!

Resources for preserving foods:
Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
USDA guidelines for preserving foods
Tangerini's newsletter (my CSA farm) with preserving tips

In health and wellness,

Nicole Harter

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