Saturday, October 9, 2010

Preserving for the Winter

I haven't posted in a while because the change in the weather recently served to remind me that I lost a good deal of my garden harvest last year due to my denial that frost was really setting in. This year I will not be caught with my plants out. While weather reports indicate that I am safe for at least another week, I am taking heed of the fact that food preservation, unlike frost, does not happen overnight. Every day or two I set myself to a new task--drying peaches, canning peaches, canning peach salsa, drying pears, drying tomatoes, making pesto. I still hope to can tomatoes, can tomato sauce, dry herbs, make more pesto for freezing, make and can pickles, can salsa, and freeze green beans. (Oh dear, that's a big list!)

I certainly did not used to preserve so much. In fact, if I had been shown the above list a few years ago, I think I would have had heart palpitations. About 11 years ago I started with dehydrating. We had received a plug-in dehydrator as a wedding gift (awesome!) with the intention of drying foods for backpacking--thus saving tons of money over purchasing those ready-made dehydrated meals. We used it faithfully for that purpose. Years later, as I started to garden, I learned that I could save the harvest in this very, very simple way. Since then we built our own dehydrator that works with the sun's energy and warm summer days to create fossil-fuel-free dried treats. Since that time I have added freezing and canning to my repertoire. The website for the National Center for Home Food Preservation has been a great guide for me as I increase my preservation prowess.

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