How to Preserve Everything from Leeks to Raspberries
Rachel Miller Freezing blueberries for use later.
When I was little, I remember my grandmother and great grandmother putting up fruits and vegetables for the winter. We had a root cellar in the basement, lined with wooden plywood shelves that held the jars of tomatoes, beans, jams and jellies, and a couple random bottle of sparkling grape juice, that I would try to negotiate out of the cellar and into my cup.
My mom reminisces that her parents would always put up pears and peaches in simple syrup, which was their dessert every night after dinner.
We now live in a world where you can get any vegetable or fruit year-round, and the need to can or "put up" seems unnecessary. So why should you do this and how do you even begin?
Rachel Miller Sauerkraut ready to be stored in the fridge.
In Arizona, most of us lack a root cellar or an even consistently cool room in our house, so I purchased a chest freezer. When I get an abundance of local, organic and seasonal fruit and veg, I scoop it up, and put some up for later. For me, it means I know where my food is coming from and allows me to support local farmers. Plus, the fresher your fruit and veg are when you put them up, the better.
The primary use for our chest freezer is for meat. Most of our meat, we buy from a friend who raises it for us. This means that we buy 6-10 chickens at a time or half a hog. The meat is organic, grass-fed and grain feed (non-soy, non-corn, non-GMO), and pastured. Bones are used to make large batches of stock, which is then, you guessed it, put up in our freezer.
Another reason I put up food is because of food waste. I am notorious for forgetting about veg in the fridge, as we head out for a meal or event during the week, and then those green beans I just bought (actually probably bought 4 days prior) are already going bad. If I know I won't be using something the next day or two, I will now prep up my veg and freeze it.
The number one reason we put food up in my home is to save time. I'm not pitching you this idea thinking we should all put up a stockpile for winter, but my family is incredibly busy, and using the freezer allows me to feed them delicious home cooked meals, waste less food, and try to purchase when food is seasonal and local.
You can pickle, can, or make jams for any of these as well, just make sure that you are storing those items in a consistently cool, dark room (something my home lacks currently).
I use mason jars with white plastic BPA-free lids or Ziploc bags. Here are a few of the ways that I prep and put up some of the great local produces I'm getting right now.