Magic Tree Clock

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Food Preservation for Home Economy

Today was an important day in the economy of my home in relation to my food options as Autumn takes hold and Winter looms only a few months away. I've decided to preserve some of this late summer, early autumn produce from my local farmers. One problem I had to deal with was 'how'. Knowing that I don't have time to learn yet another skill, canning foods was out of the question. The next best thing I could do was freeze food. I used to have one of those plastic bag food sealers, but it fell into disuse in the early 2000s and I gave it away. So, I helped the national economy today by purchasing a new vacuum food sealer! Let the freezing begin!

I set about this last week to buy as many vegetables and fruits from my neighborhood farmer's market (see previous post), and from the organic farm I frequent. I did a great job getting tomatoes and peppers, and apples and pears, but I plan to buy more of these and other things as I learn the art of freezing food. One place online that I've found to help me in this endeavor is through the National Center for Home Food Preservation's page on freezing. Unfortunately, this whole idea came late, so things like cucumbers and zucchini are not going to make it in this round.

This afternoon my partner and I sliced a huge variety of the tomatoes and peppers, and put them into sealed bags using the new unit. One thing we did along the way was to make up packets of these things in serving sizes we knew we would use in a typical meal. Although this required us to make many packages, in the long run we will be better able to extend the food by not overusing it. Since it is apple season, and I love apples, I'm going to freeze them too. I've decided that I like the unsweetened freezing options and thus will reduce any browning with lemon juice or the mild salt bath. I like the idea of freezing the sliced fruit on a tray first before putting into vacuum-sealed bags. This is the technique I've used for blueberries - they turn into marbles, yet thaw easily. Since I have a typical fridge, I won't be able to fit much in the freezer, but I'll squish in whatever I can.

Besides economics, I also want to keep a huge supply of our personal kitchen basics on-hand during the tomato/pepper/apple off-season because I deplore fruits and veggies that have a protective edible wax on them, especially the petroleum-based ones. I guess you could say that not only do I want home economics liberated, I want my food liberated too.

One other thing I did this week was take advantage of the canning skill of the vendors at the farmer's market. I bought up what I could of jellies, jams, relishes, mustards, and even honey. Knowing that their skills are valuable, and that they make their products with the season, it made sense to stock up on these things. On a thrifty note, all of the jellies, etc. came in 1-cup Ball brand canning jars, so I'll have a pretty good set for next year if I decide that canning is something I'll be prepared to learn. If not, the jars will continue to function in the manner of the ones I already have, where I use them for taking milk and butter and other small amounts of food to work for lunches, and they can be used to store many things like seeds, paper clips, or become drinking glasses.

Home economics, liberation, and food - these three things are intimate friends, co-dependent, necessary. Philosophically, this linkage seems to be a practice of resistance to wastefulness, restriction, and bane.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Local Food and Your Home Economy

Today I visited my farmer's market, and like always, I enjoyed it. But today it really just hit me how such a small market has SO MUCH! I know that I just invested in my community via our farmer's market! In this practice I found joy and liberation. The liberating part stems from my act as resistance to force-fed corporate processed foods. Look - I got all of this: apples, pears, plums, wheat, rye, & baguette breads, jams, tomatoes, peppers, acorn squash, cookies, cabbage, radishes, beans, broccoli, cookies, oatmeal pie, paw paws, relish, honey! Whew - who says you can't eat locally? The corporations won't feed me like this.

I don't want corporations to feed me anyway. I spent $127.00. That was split between 6 farmers and bakers and home canners. I mentioned that I bought bread; only part of it is in the picture here. I put lots of it in the freezer already. I got 3 baguettes, a loaf of whole wheat, a loaf of rye, and 6 white farmer's loaves for $24.00, and because I bought so much, they through in a personal sized bacon and cheese quiche! What also isn't pictured is ALL of the jams, jellies, and relishes I bought. Most of those I put up already, but the variety I was able to get included, pineapple, peach, white peach, jalapeno, strawberry, lavender blackberry, and honey peach. I think I bought 13 jars of jellies and jams, plus two big jars of zucchini relish.

I'm going to freeze some of the veggies for the winter. My goal between now and the end of September is to get all the food I can and freeze it. I'm prepared to can food this year. This weekend I'm volunteering at a local farm, and this labor will get me $5.00 worth of their organic produce and eggs for each hour I work there. Not only does this impact my economy of home, but I get to play in the dirt under the big Earthly sky and listen to the bells clinking on the necks of the roaming sheep. Maybe I'll run with the roosters too :-)