Gap Months and Fresh Food on the Horizon
his time of year will tell you if you planned your pantry well enough last year. Pantry planning and preserving the harvest is a tall order to fill. Many times you do have to strike while the iron is hot and preserve a bounteous crop. Crops fail, time runs out, or life gets in the way. Our once in a blue moon crop is Italian prunes. My favorite. We’ve had two good years in a row, I can’t escape the feeling that we won’t continue to be so lucky. It’s about the same with wild mushrooms, you just never know what you’re going to get until you get it.
So as a preserver you soldier on planning for a good crop. You also try to hedge your bets by using a variety of techniques to bring food to the table year-round. I would be lost without our freezers, but to have a well-rounded pantry you can’t just rely on a freezer, you need to dehydrate, ferment, can, store and push your seasons by eating fresh for as much of the year as you can.
Looking at my canned stores right now I can see if my planning worked out and matched our food needs this past winter. I didn’t can near enough tomato soup, but I have too many whole tomatoes. I tended to reach for the glut sauce that was a mix of tomatoes and herbs much more than the plain whole tomatoes. Tomatoes figured heavily in my canning efforts last year, and we’re low on sauce, salsa, soup and glut sauce. Sigh. All those tomatoey dishes also leaves me short on canned summer squash.
and dried oregano.
Soon we’ll be eating fresh again. My thanks to the greenhouse.
Besides canning stores, I have to stare into the depths of the freezers and really reassess what we used, and make adjustments to my seeding and planting plans if need be. For me the freezer tends to be never-never land unless the item being frozen is in a recognizable form. Soups and precooked foods just end up being dog food here. Actually old dog food, because I have good intentions when I commit the item to the freezer and then when I thaw it out – yuck. Now I just save a step and electricity and give it to the dogs when we’re tired of eating it. I always have a stock pot going making bone broth, so to take some broth, add some vegetables or leftover meat and make soup is like convenience food in my kitchen.
Freezer stores here consist of meats, butter, berries, fruits, mushrooms, peppers and some vegetables. Now in early April we are right about where I expected we would be, things are dwindling, but as greens become available, the need/want for berries and fruit seems to wane. As the years have gone by I have tended to freeze less vegetables in favor of seasonal eating of some crops and just some eating some crops fresh. Snap peas come to mind. I have several gallon bags of pods still in the freezer, and peas up and growing in the greenhouse. We did not eat them at all.
Dry storage crops like potatoes, winter squash, onions and garlic are holding up well too. It looks like we’ll have a good overlap which is where I like to be this time of year.
So again a learning experience with the pantry. I’m trying to see the extras as chicken food and not a total waste.
Did you preserve anything last year that you decided was a waste of time?