Thursday, September 26, 2013

To Squirrel Away

It is a running joke in my family that some of us are part squirrel.  We spend a lot of time and energy putting food by for the coming winter.  It is not uncommon to find jars upon jars of canned goods in pantries and stuffed to the brim chest freezers at my relatives' houses.  I like to think I am carrying on the (somewhat frantic and tiring) tradition.  I have definitely done my part this year!

Tomatoes and peppers from my dad and grapes from my grandma.

Collards and kale from my dad.

A major source of my preserving produce came from my dad, but we have our garden, too!  We planted lots and lots of tomatoes, not having any idea how many of my dad's we would get.

Before that load on the table in the earlier photo arrived, I had whittled the tomatoes down to this one platter full.  And, then the next delivery showed up!

Since then, we have thankfully returned to the point of just eating what we are growing and I am DONE preserving tomatoes.  In order to be excused from further tomato canning, I shared most of those flats of tomatoes with my knitting group friends. Win-win!  In case you missed it, I have preserved a lot of tomatoes this year.

Our gleanings included a mixture of peppers, chilies and jalapenos that had Paul's name all over them (I am a wuss when it comes to hot peppers).

And now, let me share some of the things I did this year to squirrel these veggies away for later...

Sofrito sauce with thyme from Put 'Em Up, frozen into ice cube trays to flavor rice and other dishes later on.

Multiple trays of slow roasted tomatoes with herbs that were later frozen.

Lots of salsa!  I tried 3 recipes this year: Corn Salsa and Heirloom Salsa both from Put 'Em Up and Basic Tomato Salsa from Food in Jars.  I foresee a lot of beans/rice/salsa, burritos and nachos in my future!

Paul has been really excited about fermenting lately.  He made a batch of fermented greens and 3 kinds of fermented hot sauces.  Here I captured our little fermentation station with his goods and a batch of my kombucha.

Speaking of kombucha, it has been determined that grape is Paul's favorite flavor of kombucha, so I made more juice with those grapes from my grandma.  A quart jar of this juice is enough to flavor a gallon batch of kombucha.  It gets darker and more flavorful as it sits.  I followed the same process as last year as it worked really well and is on the lesser side of the the labor scale.  Although, of course, that is not taking into account the cleaning and sorting of the grapes.  Still, this is a treasured item in my pantry and I am very grateful to have had free sources for grapes last year and this year.

I also received dill flowers and cucumbers from my dad, so I made 2 batches of fermented sour pickles.  We LOVE them.  I can't see any reason to make pickles with vinegar ever again.  Fermented pickles are where its at.  And, garlic.  Garlic is where its at, as well.

Glutton for punishment that I am, I also went to the farmers' market and stocked up on a few things that we didn't get from my family or grow ourselves.  My purchases included 2 watermelons for dehydrating (yellow and red, yummy!) as well as a ton of red bell peppers which we fire-roasted, skinned, seeded and then froze.  In case you are keeping track, I have dehydrated 4 watermelons and yet we are almost out of dehydrated watermelon!  That could have something to do with the fact that I adore this treat and Paul is pretty taken with the salted batch I made most recently.

I also tried 2 batches of kale chips with some of those greens.  I flavored one with soy sauce and one with nutritional yeast.  I like the texture, but I over-seasoned them.  I will know better next time.  These batches will be consumed more like a seasoning than an end product.  So far I have crushed them and spread them over popcorn.  I liked it that way!  I think it would also be good sprinkled over a stir fry or pasta.  The greens that I didn't give away or turn into chips were blanched and frozen.

A batch of Carrot Tomato Soup went into the freezer as well.  Can you guess how full my freezer is?

I am not done with my squirreling efforts quite yet as the raspberries are still going strong, we have a small box of apples to process, a ton of dried beans to shell and cure and 4 heads of cabbage that are headed for the kraut cutter sometime really soon.  That said, it has been really wonderful to have most of the preserving behind me and to spend some time and energy enjoying the fall bounty by preparing food to eat right now. Like that cranberry zucchini bread I made last weekend (modified this recipe by subbing in applesauce for half of the oil, whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all purpose flour and sliced almonds instead of walnuts) with the giant zucchini that snuck into our produce delivery.

Cheers to a productive September!


  1. This is amazing. Do you have a freezer besides the one attached to your fridge? If not, I don't know how you do it! Congrats on a happy (not yet finished) canning season!

    1. Oh, yes! We have a chest freezer in the basement. Having space for one has been a wonderful perk of home ownership. The chest freezer (if you get the kind that is NOT frost free) stores food for longer without harming it. I learned that frost free freezers go through warm and cold cycles to keep the frost from building up, which ends up drying out your food and/or giving it freezer burn. Most refrigerator/freezers are frost free.

  2. Wow! You have been busy! It all looks rather tasty.

    1. Thanks, Elise. These helps explain why I have been knitting the same sweater the entire summer. Not much time left for knitting when I am tackling the food preserving tasks. I am looking forward to the shift in seasons and the shift in activities that comes along with it.

  3. Tell your dad I say thanks for the tomatoes! They wait, frozen, for the first day I feel like I can't stand the cold weather any more. Then I shall self-medicate with tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...