Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Season

frozen peaches
This time last year was a flurry of activity in preparation for the winter C.S.A. We'd been working hard since March, but the first touch of cold kicked us in the pants and made us very aware that we had limited time to prepare and store food for all our member families. This winter, the C.S.A. won't be operating, but all that means is that people who've had a taste of what it's like to eat local food through the winter need to take a few steps to make that happen. Saving food for a bunch of families is a challenge, but it's really not that hard to do it for just one.

I recently led a fermentation workshop with the Putnam County Holistic Moms, which was great fun, and we also had a discussion about easy things to do to extend the harvest. Cold mornings may make you think the growing season's all over, aside from a winter squash or two, but that's far from the truth. Here are some quick (and incomplete) lists I shared with the mothers:
Top 10 Tips to eat local year-round
  1. Befriend your freezer.
  2. Rig up your own root cellar.
  3. Cover your crops.
  4. Dehydrate.
  5. Learn about wild food.
  6. Plant edible perennials.
  7. Ferment.
  8. Can like granny.
  9. Sprout.
  10. Plant in sunny windows.
There's nothing complicated in that list, and detailed information online about all of it. Type "solar dehydrate onions" (for example) into search and you've got everything you need.

If you're thinking you're done in the garden and that its time to sit by the fire with soup, you're wrong! (Save that for January.) For now, there's work to be done.

September has passed, but I'm including some Sept. chores because there are some that still apply:
  • Freeze & can peaches
  • Freeze raspberries
  • Freeze red peppers
  • Freeze zucchini
  • Freeze greens
  • Dehydrate tomatoes
  • Dehydrate beans
  • Make hot pepper sauce (I'm doing this today!)
  • Ferment everything
  • Can pears and apples
  • Freeze cooked squash & pumpkin
  • Dehydrate herbs
  • Freeze pesto
  • Freeze greens
  • Peel & dry black walnuts
  • Eat pawpaws & kiwis (they'll make you feel like you're in the tropics)
  • Pickle wild grape leaves
  • Ferment everything
  • Cover garden
  • Make sauerkraut
  • Root cellar apples
  • Root cellar potatoes
  • Freeze greens
  • Root cellar turnips, radishes, etc.
  • Move mushroom logs to basement
  • Ferment everything
  • Root cellar carrots
  • Eat last covered garden vegetables
  • Prune perennials
  • Can fancy, time-consuming recipes with frozen produce
  • Visit winter farm markets
  • Ferment everything
If, like me, you find yourself with a gazillion berries or apples or tomatoes all at one time, preserving makes great sense. Nothing goes to waste, and with a little effort now, winter is far, far tastier.

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