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
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
As the growing season winds down, I get plenty of questions about what to do with the last weeks of homegrown harvests and the last crops from farmer’s markets. By now, you’ve likely eaten your fill of your favorite fresh dishes and processed your favorite canned and frozen goods. If you’re like me, you’re torn between wanting to be done with the labor of weeding and harvesting and wanting to capture those last few tomatoes, those last few broccoli stalks, to enjoy after snowfall.
I’ve already shared many of my favorite ways to save excess and end-of-season produce. This month, I’ll continue to share some of my favorite fall canning recipes. But this week, I wanted to bring together in one post some of the ways I quickly save the last rounds of in-season veg.
Read more about quickly saving vegetables