Using your home-grown, home preserved food
Home-grown ginger, just harvested.
You've harvested home-grown food, gotten it from a local grower, or foraged for it. You've canned it, dried it, frozen it, or smoked it. It's not going to keep forever. Now is the fun part. Now you get to eat it, to work it into your diet. It's going to change the way you eat for the better. And it's not that hard to do. The basic skill is to inventory it, and use at least a little every day . . plan to use it.
Refrigerated harvest. We have about a third of our fridge full of pickled, refrigerated vegetables,mostly two kinds of pickles and two kinds of relish, but also some pickled hot peppers. These will have to be used up before the water-bath canned pickles and relishes and peppers, but certain recipes like my New York Deli-Style half-sour garlic dill pickles require being made in the fridge. We use them with sandwiches, burgers, and more.
Frozen harvest. Frozen things get freezer burn before the canned good expire so they go next. We have enough frozen carrots and green beans for the winter which we will use before canned ones. Our frozen green beans are a bit dry but work great in stews and the carrots go in stews, soups, and as side dishes. Everything is labeled with the date and (unless unambiguous, like strawberries) the contents. Tip: try dicing fresh herbs into ice cube trays and fill with water and freeze them. I am using fresh frozen parsley from the garden that way; I just pop a cube of it into the soup right before I serve it.
Winter storage fruits & vegetables. Since we do not have a root cellar, yet, we have very few of these but we are still eating pumpkins from our garden. Be sure to keep an eye on your root cellar veggies and fruit if you have one. Rotate and keep an eye on what goes with what (certain foods should not be stored together) and monitor the humidity.
Dried/ dried foods. Fruit leathers can go in packed lunches. We have blueberry and grape fruit leathers this year and they are great when hiking, too. Dried berries, nuts (we have acess to pecans and black walnuts) and fruit can go into muffins and breads: we put diced dried apricots into pumpkin bread and blueberries into corn muffins, and dried apples and raisins routinely go into our sauce for pork. Dehydrated mushrooms and green beans go into soups. Dried jalapenos spice up chowders. Dried black beans become refried beans. Dried bread can make croutons: I have 8 pints of them. Dried tomatoes and figs go in salads. And of course, dried home-grown spices go into almost every meal. Dried things last a long time. Tip: save silica gel packets and put them in with your small batches of dried foods. You're not supposed to reuse canning lids for canning but used lids make great covers for dried things.
Home-canned goods. Jams and jellies are great on pancakes and in peanut butter sandwiches, or on toast or muffins. Our home-canned fruit, vegetables and meat can be used any number of ways. We have pickles and kraut and more. I cannot tell you how important it is to put a date on your jars so you use them up in time. Be religious about rotating your stock, too.
Winter-fresh grown. We are far enough south that we do not have our cold frame up, but it's coming. Right now we are still harvesting kale, cabbage, lettuce, onions, basil, tomatoes, and peppers. The cold frame will have kale and lettuce, and beets for greens. You can grow things indoors in the winter, too. We have a huge potted ginger plant that comes inside for a few months every year. I just harvested some fresh ginger from the plant, on the windowsill behind me (pictured above).
Use some up every day. Today we had fig jam at breakfast, and I used home-grown fresh ginger, fresh onions, and dehydrated mushrooms in our dinner. Dessert was a pie made with home-grown berries from the freezer. Yesterday we had salads with homemade croutons, some of our lettuce mixed with fresh basil, dried figs, canned pears, and local goat cheese. The day before that we had sandwiches with pickles on them at lunch and tostadas with our tomatoes, hot peppers, lettuce and onions.
Not only does our food have less preservatives, salt, and white flour, it is much more nutritious and cheaper. My husband keeps asking me if I need more money for the grocery budget due to inflation and I keep saying no, we're good, I've got this.
If you'll probably have to transition to living off your stored food, someday, you really ought to get into the habit of using it now. That way you'll have an idea of how much you need, what supplies you need to grow or get that, how long it will last, and what you need for variety. The nutrition and taste and savings are just cool bonuses.
I put dates on my freezer bags too, but I find it harder to organize and rotate stock in a freezer, than to rotate jars on a shelf. Things seem to fall and shift when frozen bags of interest are removed….
Thanks for sharing this…I just started experimenting with fermented vegetables, which I guess would fall into your refrigeration harvest.
Things like cabbage turned into sauerkraut require no refrigeration. Grape or apple juice turned into vinegar or alcohol also do not require refrigeration, and we've been experimenting with those.
Any form of fermentation that does not require refrigeration is more sustainable.
The Art of Fermentation is the best guide I've found on this.