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.
Read more about taking stock of stored food
With the holiday season on your doorstep, you’re likely planning meals and buying and making gifts. If you’re like me, you’re preparing to give the gift of food. It may not sound as sexy as an Apple AirPod or gravity blanket, but when you’ve taken the time to make it, package it, and set it aside with a specific person in mind, it carries far more love.
Still, giving and receiving food has its challenges. I’m not talking about the effort you put into preparing it, which you’ve likely already planned into your schedule and budget. I’m talking about ensuring your hard work will truly be appreciated by the receiver—and about how you, when you’re the receiver, can value what’s been created for you. With a little thought, you can make your food gifts the highlight of someone’s holiday season—and of yours.
Read more about gifting food
Winter came early to Montana this year. The first flakes started coming down at home September 28, while we were sailing in Canada’s Gulf Islands. By the time I got home a month later, more snow and single-digit mornings were just days away.
It made for some interesting fall garden cleanup and canning. We managed to dig the last of this year’s carrots and beets and stuff next year’s garlic before the pre-Halloween storm, but we had to wait until last weekend to do the final round of canning with apples, tomatoes, and tomatillos. Call it impressive or call it procrastination: We sealed up 85 jars of goodness on Sunday. Read on for more about multibatch canning and boxing vegetables on the cusp of winter.
Read more for canning tricks and storage tips
You’ve probably noticed that I love grilled vegetables. I also love home-canned goods, and the techniques of grilling and preserving pair together perfectly. The advantages of grilling for canning stretch far beyond flavor, particularly for tomatoes.
Grilling combined with freezing makes it easy to start processing vegetables as they ripen throughout the growing season, making preserving seem more like a habit than a chore. During tomato season, we pull the ripest fruit from the vine every few days. That evening, we fire up the grill and cook off a rack or two of tomatoes; the hot halves go straight into a colander set over a large bowl to drain off the juice—usually while we’re enjoying a grilled dinner. Once they’re cool, I pour the separated solids and juice into separate containers, weighing and labeling each before adding them to the freezer.
When the freezer’s full, I have two products ready for processing: solids and juice. Because the juice was drained off, any sauce or salsa doesn’t have to cook for hours to thicken. Because the solids have already been pulled out of the juice, I can quickly apply it to any recipe, from beverage to soup. In just a couple of hours, I can have several canner batches processed for long-term storage. The freezer is ready for the next round of preserving, and the canning shelves are full of delicious fire-roasted flavors.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pasta Sauce and Tomato Juice Soup