Growing food has been on my mind: I’ve been busy prepping for a sprout-growing workshop this week and organizing next month’s Free the Seeds event. You too are probably noticing the steady march toward spring as bright seed catalogs arrive regularly and storage vegetables beg to be front and center in your meals. Now’s the time to take stock of what you’ve saved from your last growing season, particularly what you’ve used and what’s left.
Each year, I do my best to grow and save precisely what we’ll need to see us through the winter months. When it’s time to put the next seeds in the ground, I’m ideally choosing from a dwindling supply of canned, frozen, and dry-stored goods. It’s never perfect: some years I put up too much corn, and we typically risk running out of Grilled Tomato Chipotle Salsa. Good planning and recordkeeping help—particularly the tricks I share in workshops. But I’ve learned that taking stock in February ensures we’re eating down the foods that need to be used most, using in stocks those that threaten spoilage, and generally limiting our food waste. Here are some of the foods we’ll be eating regularly this month—and some of the ways we enjoy them.
Every fall, we save a flat of the best keeper apples from our trees. I store them in the unheated mudroom, with each apple wrapped in newspaper. By February, they’re starting to soften. I can still find a few for fresh eating with bites of Dry-Salted Feta and Low-Gluten Sourdough Naan. But the rest—and many of the off-season apples you might be buying—are better cooked up or mixed into these recipes:
I save onions two ways: dry stored in boxes in the mudroom, and grilled, sliced, and frozen in the chest freezer. As we find more varieties that keep well in my fairly humid mudroom, we’ve been saving more whole in boxes. But by this time of year, they’re prone to mold if we don’t check and cull the stock regularly. Whether frozen or fresh, I turn to these recipes:
Pumpkins and Squash
We had a poor squash crop this year, but I’ve been rich in pumpkin: Every month, it seems someone is handing me another one they fear they won’t use in time. Although squash keeps well for many months if properly cured, by now I’m keeping an eye on the remaining ones to catch signs of spoilage. I’ll have more pumpkin and squash recipes to share later this month, but there are many favorites already on the blog, including these:
By next month, my potatoes will know spring is coming and start to put out fresh eyes in earnest. But for now, they’re holding up well in their repurposed cooler under some old towels. We enjoy them particularly in hardy weekend breakfasts and warming dinners:
Cans and Jars
Although I’m focused on eating up fresh stored vegetables this month, I’m keeping an eye on our canned stash and trying to open up some fridge and freezer space. Eating down these goodies generally means keeping a small open jar of jam, salsa, and relish in regular rotation through the fridge and digging into large jars of fermented veg weekly if not daily. I track my freezer usage by storing a single bag of each heavily used fruit, vegetable, or puree in the small fridge-top freezer. Every time I finish a bag, I shift a new one from the chest freezer—and check how many are left behind.
Twice as Tasty
This month, I’ll be sharing more of my favorite winter eat-it-up recipes, ones that feature squash or pumpkin, beans, and various hearty grains. There will be plenty to keep your kitchen smelling delicious, whether you’re buying winter veg or eating down your own stash. It’s the perfect time to join the Twice as Tasty Challenge!
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5 thoughts on “Taking Stock”
I try to keep the pantry stocked to a certain level, for instance, I always have 4 cans of whole peeled tomatoes in inventory. When I use a can or two, it immediately goes on my shopping list on my phone and the next time they are on sale I pick them up. The freezer in the basement is the landmine for me. I use a method similar to yours where I keep the bare minimum upstairs in the fridge, but sometimes I forget to restock! On my computer, I keep a list of meals I’ve put down there: soups and dishes that I made double for another time. This works fairly well.
The freezer is always the biggest challenge. I keep a list of what I stash away from the garden, but I can never keep it updated with meals–that part always stays like a treasure hunt.
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We can only do the best we can!
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It sounds like you have a wonderful roadmap!
It works for me! How do you handle staying on top of your food inventory? I’m always looking for fresh ideas.