We grow sufficient leafy vegetables, tomatoes, herbs to supplement our purchases from markets and greengrocers. Space restrictions limit the amount of fruit we grow to some lemons, the occasional strawberry although we do have some new plants in.
Subsequently I tend not to be aware of when some crops are at their most bountiful so it may only be when a friend kindly hands me a bucket of fruit or I pass a box of discounted tomatoes in a shop that I become aware it’s a good time to preserve. Having a job outside the home also limits my time so I’ve decided to be more proactive about preserving.
This year I am reading the delightful Sally Wise‘s A Year on the Farm. I like that the book is linear in its exposition — month by month and, within that, week by week we learn what is ready to eat on the Tasmanian farm accompanied by many great do-able recipes from Sally.
I decided that the best thing to do was bring all of these together so I’m now in the process of combining all of these into a Seasonal Preserving Calendar that will be tailor-made for our needs and food preferences. By combining Sally’s recipes and harvests with Rhonda’s recipes, with what is happening locally and considering what we like best to eat and give as gifts I hope to end up with a custom-made Calendar. I’ll share it with you when it’s done.
It would be interesting to know if you have a solid system for managing your preserving?
Rhonda mentions the freezer in the June chapter of The Simple Home as an ideal place to preserve abundance, maybe even stockpile and manage your food resources throughout the year.
I think that in the past, many of us thought of the freezer only in terms of sides of meat or loaves of bread that may or may not have proved to be a saving. The important thing with the freezer is to have it serve you well, to ensure that it makes your cooking from scratch easier, that it offer you a means to manage fresh produce well.
In June of The Simple HomeRhonda discusses food preserving and food storage. Preserving can be a big deal, I think many of us who live simply have a mental image of a lovely huge pantry filled with colourful jars of preserved food but we may not have the time and the resources to produce this. Similarly, food storage can suggest a massive prepper-style stockpile which isn’t my personal goal although it is for some, as always, Rhonda encourages us to preserve and store what is right for us.
Currently my time is limited by my outside job so I preserve less than I’d like, all the same I do make small batches of jams/marmalades, pickles etc. As we don’t produce large amounts of fruit and vegetables my preserving produce comes from buying cheap end-of-season produce at the greengrocer’s or markets, or the bounty of kind friends.
With small batches we can enjoy eating or giving away superb food items, there is simply no comparison between home preserved and bought items.
I also use the freezer as a preserving tool. For us it’s not worth investing in sides of meat but it is worth occasionally doubling a purchase if the price is good (particularly at the fishmonger’s), double cooking also means that I have a meal for another night (no prep!) or multiple single portions for lunches.
A couple of months ago a friend generously gave me a few kilos of black cherries which are still languishing on a freezer shelf as I didn’t have time to make jam then but they are waiting to become a winter treat. Over at the Forum I learned that I could simply pack them tightly in a sturdy plastic bag and flash freeze for future cooking. No blanching!
I have a good dehydrator but am yet to exploit it thoroughly, I’d be interested to know if you have tips in that area.
My stockpile consists of pasta, grain, flours, tinned items that help me to cook well and easily from scratch. I rarely shop for supermarket items more often than fortnightly, sometimes less often, which saves my time, sanity and money.