Monday, July 21, 2014

Easy Food Preservation

The Climate Crusader shares her tips for storing the summer bounty without breaking a sweat.

Local eating is pretty mainstream these days - so mainstream, in fact, that many big corporations are trying to cash in. In spite of the greenwashing out there (I saw a McDonald's truck boasting that their potatoes were "grown right here in Canada"), reducing your food miles is a great way to go green. When you eat locally you're reducing your carbon footprint and supporting local farmers. You're also enjoying fresher food, which is more nutritious and tastier to boot.

At this time of year it's easy to eat local, but if you want to keep eating local all year long you'll need to do a little planning. One great way to do that is to buy fruit and veggies in bulk while they're in season and preserve them. To help you get started, I recommend stopping by the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They have a comprehensive online guide to canning, freezing, drying, pickling and curing your food for storage, from what equipment you need, to recipes and more. If you're new to home preserving, here are three easy foods to start with.


Three Easy Foods to Preserve

1. Blueberries

Blueberries are my absolute favourite food to preserve for a whole lot of reasons. The first is that frozen blueberries - and especially frozen organic blueberries - from the grocery store are so expensive. The second is that frozen blueberries make a great snack as-is, no need to defrost. But the biggest of all is that preserving these delicious little berries is just so easy. Don't wash the berries before freezing, because that damages the skin - you can wash them after you defrost instead. All you have to do is place the blueberries straight in a container, leaving some headspace, and freeze. Voila! (Instructions online.)

2. Herbs

You're going to save a lot of money if you preserve your own herbs - especially if they come from your own garden. Once again, this is easy-peasy. Hang your herbs in a bundle and allow them to air-dry. Make sure your bunch isn't too big, so that they don't mold, and make sure they're in a warm and dry location. You can even speed up the process by drying certain herbs in an oven or microwave. (Instructions online.)

3. Pickles

Canning can be intimidating, but I promise it's not rocket science. I suggest starting with fresh-pack dill pickles. Because you're processing them for 10 minutes you don't have to sterilize the jars, and because you're using fresh, whole pickling cucumbers the preparation is minimal. There's something immensely satisfying about pulling your finished pickles out of the hot water bath and hearing the little 'pop' as the jars self-seal. It sounds like victory. (Instructions online.)

What about you - what are your favorite low-stress foods to preserve?

1 comment:

Green Bean said...

Freezing blueberries is my absolute favorite way to preserve produce. So easy! I do the same with hot peppers and blackberries. Works just as well.

I need to really work on the herb thing! Thanks for the reminder.


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