Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Preserving food

When you first started preserving food for winter, what did you choose to put up? How do you know what you will eat come winter? I have been asking myself this a lot lately. Sometimes it is difficult to get in the mindset of what we eat in winter around here. But, I tend to go back to previous meal plans and hope for the best.

Right now it is tomato season. We are getting several pounds of tomatoes in our CSA share each week, and the tomatoes in the garden are ripening quite well. Not an overwhelming amount, but just enough. I am straddling the fine line between gorging myself on fresh tomatoes (probably my most favorite food on the planet) and taking those fresh tomatoes and turning them into something for the dead of winter. We eat salsa pretty much every week, so obviously I am trying to can as much salsa as possible, but I also like to have crushed tomatoes on hand for soup, pasta sauce, and chili. Now the question is, should I put up anything else that has tomatoes as a base?

I don't eat ketchup, but my husband does, so should I make a batch of ketchup? I only use BBQ sauce in the summer, should I make homemade BBQ sauce? Looking through the canning book, there are so many amazing recipes! Chutneys, and relishes, and jams, the possibilities are endless. I fully expect that come March I would eat just about anything that I canned, even if it is ketchup straight from the jar, but I really want to put up what we will eat, and most importantly, what we will miss when it runs out. Do you have a go to tomato product? I am considering making pasta sauce because we use that quite a bit as well, but I don't know if I want to be bothered with the whole process of making the pasta sauce and letting it simmer all day to thicken up etc. etc. You may have noticed that I am not a patient person :-) Surprising considering all the extra hoops I go through to eat whole foods...

Apple season will be here soon enough, and I am looking forward to putting up apple jelly and apple butter (which is a regular condiment for the muffins I seem to make most of the winter). And canning isn't the only option, I am trying my hand at drying (in the oven) and also freezing veggies, which I always try to do anyways. It is hard though, to get all of those fresh veggies from the garden, CSA, or Farmers' Market and then can the majority of them for winter...when all I want is to eat them raw and fresh. Fine line, fine line :-)

5 comments:

  1. Yes, we've been eating all our fresh goodies lately and not doing a great job preserving. The fact that our freezer STILL stinks...while, that helps with my justification.

    (Catching up on your blog tonight!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never canned anything before. I thought this year would be my first year, but we didn't get our garden up and running until a few weeks ago so we could have a few fall vegetables. We've got big plans for next year, though, so I'll hopefully be canning like a madwoman.

    I probably use whole peeled tomatoes the most at our house, so that will probably be my first tomato-related item to can next year. Fingers crossed!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Lauren! All of my canning definitely does not only come from my garden :-) Actually, my garden was pretty much a disaster this year. But, we have an amazing summer CSA which gives me a little extra to put away. And as far as tomatoes...I actually order a couple bushels from the local fish and produce guy :-) Some day I hope to have a big garden that produces really well for preservation...it hasn't happened yet though :-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I used to try to make all sorts of tomato products and different flavored sauces. My favorite was salsa, but at some point, it got too overwhelming with all of the produce coming into season one on top of the other - just when I'd get cleaned up from strawberries, it's time for raspberries, and then, pickles and tomatoes and apples ... and then, there's pumpkin ... but the tomatoes aren't done ...!!

    So, now, I just do it as simple as I can get it, with just a base ingredient I could modify to a bunch of different dishes. For tomatoes, I stew them until they are soft, and then puree it and put it in jars with a Tbls each of lemon and salt. It's plain tomato sauce I can spice up later, and I'm not overwhelmed with too much stuff to can all at the same time.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree, the salsa is kind of difficult to do, especially when I typically only have enough for one recipe...and then I have to make sure I have the correct amount of onions and peppers...I have taken to canning salsa on Wednesdays, which is our Farmers' Market in town...so I don't end up with half a cup of peppers when I need a cup :-) I think you are right though, I just ordered a couple bushels of tomatoes and plan to put them up as crushed tomatoes...easy peasy :-)

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from my readers and try to respond to all comments either here or through e-mail. Thank you for taking the time to comment!