03/19/13 Storing Food for the Long Winter
When the snow and cold just keep coming past the middle of March, it can really feel like a long winter. The sun is shining from that optimistic place in the sky that tells our bodies spring is coming. The robins are fluffing up their feathers in the tree outside our window. Yet we exit the house into bitter cold. It is on days like these, when farmers are just starting seeds indoors, that I really long for fresh food from the Janesville Farmers Market.
Fortunately, I do have stored food. I’ve read and observed that squirrels spend most of their time finding and storing food. Sometimes I think that I must be part squirrel. Throughout the summer, I spend my market days admiring the fresh produce and wondering how much of it I will realistically have time to can or freeze. I then purchase what I believe to be a reasonable amount to eat or store that week. Throughout the week, I cook and eat and store as much as time permits. Hopefully when I do purchase extra, I can find the time to “put it up” for the winter. For me, this usually means a combination of freezing, fermentation (as in sauerkraut), and drying. I especially like peppers, which don’t have to be blanched in boiling water before freezing.
Now that we are in the middle of our fifth month of winter weather, of course I’m wishing that I had spent more time on the storage of local food. I’m looking at my lovely collection of empty canning jars and planning for a summer of bounty that will help me fill them. In the meantime I have some lovely dried peppers (as well as some frozen ones), some home-made pickles that miraculously stayed crunchy, and some fresh-baked bread that represents the last of my locally grown flour.
My resolution, as I enjoy a spiced pickle sandwich, is to not just preserve and store more food this coming season, but also to write about it here. Please feel free to share your own ideas and recipes as well. Happy spring!