Thursday, August 27, 2009

Food preservation

In this season we, at Joybilee Farm, are working furiously to preserve the bountiful food harvest before rot or winter come. In Southern B.C., Canada, where we live, we are blessed with abundant fruits and vegetables close by -- within a two hour drive in any direction. The fruit orchards of the Okanagan are just over 1 hour away. The tomatoes, peppers and other veggies are just a half hour away in Grand Forks. Friends and family visiting the Fraser Valley -- a 6 hour drive away -- bring back blueberries, too. So during August and the first half of September, we work together as a family to put by veggies and fruit.

I don't do as much canning as I used to. We hate pickles. We hardly use relishes or chutneys. So my canning is minimal -- limited to food that we actually eat like jams, tomatoe sauce, whole tomatoes, salsa, borcht (a vegetable soup), and apple sauce or apple cider. Other fruit is dried in our dehydrator or frozen for fruit smoothies in the winter. Vegetable are mostly frozen by blanching in boiling water, plunging in cold water and then freezing on a baking sheet, so that they can be poured out of a freezer bag to use.

Over the years I've streamlined the food preservation to foods that I would buy in the store if I didn't put them by for winter.

By preserving food when its in season, we save lots of cash on groceries throughout the year. We maximize the nutrition in the food we eat. And we avoid food additives, common in commercially prepared foods. We increase the variety in our diet year round. Plus its good for the environment when we eat local, in season foods and we keep our carbon footprint small. We also decrease the necessary trips to the store and have no fear of snow or avalanche that might keep us farm bound for a few weeks in winter.

The added bonus comes with family togetherness, as we all help to get the food into the dehydrator or canner -- peeling, slicing or whatever each fruit or vegetable demands.

If you think that your family is too small to warrant preserving food for the winter, you may be missing out on a lot of fun, satisfaction, and nutrition. A single adult needs about 2 cups of fruits and vegetables per day or over 300 lbs. in a year. When packaged loosely in freezer bags or glass jars, that food is easy to mete out in serving sizes.

Here's a great way to eat your harvest of frozen fruit --

Fruit Smoothie -- 2 servings

2 cups of milk, preferably raw
1 raw egg
1/2 cup frozen fruit (blue berries, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, etc.)
1 tbsp. honey or maple syrup (or to taste)
1/4 c. ground flax seed (optional)
Blend together in a blender until thick and well mixed. Drink immediately.

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