Natural from Home resides in Texas. We are blessed to be able to garden basically year round. Our local farmer’s markets are always full of fresh local goodies. Some may be grown in a greenhouse, but with our temperate winters we are lucky to be able to have spinach, broccoli, kale and cauliflower and other winter crops throughout the winter months. Very rarely does it stay below freezing for long. When it does we take steps and are often able to protect any delicate plants we may have in the garden.
Some crops we just don’t get here in Texas, or they just aren’t grown in abundance. Apples being high on my list. On our trips to North Carolina, I have been known to load the van with a few bushels. While it may not be considered truly local they are local to the area where hubby grew up, so I take that as a win.
No matter what crops you grown and where they are native to learning to live within the season and preserve for a later date is a skill that is one to be coveted. Growing up I remember my Mom and Grandma canning. They canned beans and pickles and tomatoes. I remember our freezer being full of sweet corn and peas.
Many farmer’s markets up north may close down in the winter months. Those that are open may only offer limited offerings. Milk, eggs, and fresh meat may be available year round. But what do you do about fruits and vegetables during the coldest winter months and early spring before gardens start to produce?
Learning to can and freeze your harvest or those that are bought at the farmer’s market will get you through those colder months.
Start simple. If you go blueberry or strawberry picking or are finding a great deal at the local farmers market, freeze some to use in your smoothies and oatmeal throughout the year. Take the family apple picking this fall and pick apples that store well, or make apple sauce. If you have extra green beans or okra, freeze them.
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, consider doing some canning. Most vegetables can well and you can even make a batch or two of homemade tomato sauce and can. Think about what veggies and foods you use throughout the year that you buy canned. These are the first things you want to can. The same principle works for freezing. What frozen fruits and vegetables to you end up using when you donít have good fresh options at the grocery store? These are the things you want to start with.
From there you can start to explore and experiment. Try making a batch of fruit jam, or try your hand at pickling cucumbers. Talk to farmers and other shoppers at your local farmers market and farms. Do a little research online, or pick up a food preservation book at your local library. The Blue Book printed by Ball canning is a great resource.
And let’s not forget about older friends and family members. Grandma cooked mainly from local, seasonal food back in the day and can give you quite a few tips to help you get back to this way of cooking and preserving food.
Don’t overwhelm yourself the first year. Do what you can and try a couple of new things. From there, start expanding each year. Try your hand at gardening, or pick up a few bushels of corn and put them up the following year. Keep adding a few more things each year and it won’t take you long to eat mainly local fresh food or food that you have preserved throughout the year.