Thursday, October 22, 2009

Putting things up

I did not grow up with the concept of preserving food, although my mother canned jams and applesauce with her grandmother. The idea of preserving food while it's in season appeals to me not just because of tradition but because of health and stewardship.

First, fruits and vegetables at the height of their season in your area will be freshest and the vitamins and nutrients in them will be most available to your body. If you buy a food out of season, you can bet it didn't come from close by and that it lost quite a lot along the way getting to you. Preserving foods when they are at their nutritional height is the smart way to be able to enjoy those foods longer than their brief season.

Second, I find that when a food is in season, it is also at it's lowest price. This is the time of year for apples and squashes and pumpkins. You can get quite a lot of food for not much money, especially if you're willing to buy in bulk, as you would certainly want to do to preserve it. Of course apples and pumpkins can be found in one form or another year round, but you'll pay a premium for them six months from now and they won't be promoting sustainable farming in your area.

I may have mentioned before that I don't can (I have very little pantry space and an extreme fear of botulism!), but I do have a stand alone chest freezer that I've been filling up with applesauce (there would be more if we didn't eat it almost as fast as I can make it!), and this week I'm aiming to roast and puree an enormous pumpkin and a huge assortment of squashes of various types. I plan to freeze the puree in one and two cup amounts as that is what most recipes call for. We will love eating the pumpkin and squash in savory soups, baked goods and desserts throughout the winter.

Lots of produce can be frozen or canned or stored in one way or another. It's another way to live by the seasons while also extending them somewhat!

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