Preserving Food

As someone who lived many years of adult life on the edge of poverty, I firmly believe in cooking food from scratch. I also don't like food to go to waste so always use various ways to preserve it. Since it's just my daughter and myself in our home, buying produce from my favorite CSA can be problematic. I mean, we love it but since there are only two of us, we just don't eat it fast enough. This is why employing different preservation methods is a must.

On my last CSA pickup, I got the standard fruit/veg box along with the Mexi-pack. The Mexi-pack was filled with tomatoes, onions, different kinds of spicy peppers, some sad-looking cilantro, garlic, green onions, limes, and lemons. I roasted the tomatoes (it's easy to peel off the skins if you roast them in addition to making them taste better), along with a few poblano and jalapeno peppers. I then blended them up with onion, some green onion, some garlic, what I salvaged from the cilantro, and fresh lime juice to make salsa. I then canned the three quart-sized jars it yielded, although there was a bowl left for us to enjoy. Yum!

I got garlic with both boxes resulting in an excess of garlic. After using what I needed for the salsa, I roasted two bulbs and chopped up the rest. You can't chop up garlic unless you plan to use it fairly quickly, so my trick is to peel all the cloves, run them in my food processor just long enough to get them into small bits, scrape all the bits into a jar, cover completely with olive oil, and store it in the fridge.

I'm a big fan of pickled onions and pickled jalapenos - both of the sweet variety - so I made big jars of each. These are simple refrigerator pickles and will last in there for an incredibly long time. 

As I still had limes left, as well as oranges from my standard box, I decided to ferment what was left of the limes along with two of the oranges for future use. And yes, I put them in the jar whole. After three days of fermenting on my kitchen table, they were placed next to the pickled onions & jalapenos in the fridge, where they will last for a year. This summer, I'll have citrus at the ready when I need some.

It is my solemn duty, as a Swede, to make schnapps - something I do quite frequently, as evidenced by several blog posts here over the years. I've had two bags of frozen fruit in my freezer since I moved in (two years, cough cough) that I've been trying to use up and get out of my tiny freezer. Since I wasn't going to be making smoothies (the fruit's original intention) I decided to do one better and turn them into delicious, delicious schnapps. The first one is Tropical to which I added chunks of lemon from my CSA box, while the other is Pineapple. 

I also made Apple Pie schnapps a different weekend. Now, to wait for three months. 

Have I mentioned my tiny apartment-sized fridge/freezer before? Oh, yes, only many times! As someone who once had a large freezer plus a full-sized standup freezer, not being able to put more than like two pizzas in my teeny, tiny freezer was driving me nuts. So, I shopped around and bought myself the smallest chest freezer I could find, which is 3.5 cubic feet, and put it in my kitchen. It's amazing and I love it so much I just might marry it.

In all seriousness, though, it's allowed me to take advantage of meat, cheese, butter, and other sales, as well as being able to preserve food for future use. 

Like these chicken bones and scraps, for instance. I've been saving these from chicken quarters as I cook them and will make chicken stock out of them. I also got a ham shank on sale for a steal that I roasted, cut up, and froze in bags. I froze the ham bone, too!

From my CSA box, I got a big bunch of celery. I chopped it up into small pieces and put them into this large freezer bag. I also kept the ends and tops that I cut off from the bunch, put them into smaller freezer bags, and put them all together.

I did the same thing with my onions, both chopped and sliced, along with the rest of the green onions.

Here I have bags of sweet Italian peppers (I like to keep them separated by color), along with the rest of the poblano peppers. 

Even though people may tell you not to freeze mushrooms, I do. It's better than wasting them! When I want to use them, I slice them frozen and cook them immediately.

Whenever I peel carrots, chop up an onion, cut up celery or garlic, and pull stems from mushrooms, I put all the scraps in a gallon freezer bag and freeze it. I add to the bag as I go along. These scraps can be made into vegetable stock or added to the aforementioned chicken/ham bones to make chicken/ham stock.

Bananas are another great thing to freeze. I either freeze them whole if I'm being lazy or cut them into chunks. Then, if I want banana bread, or decide to finally make one of them smoothies, I have bananas with which to make them.

 Freezing, canning, pickling, or fermenting vegetables & fruits are the easiest way to store them long-term. The best part is that they're all processed and ready to use. I mean, let's face it, after working all day, the thought of chopping up a bunch of veggies is not high on my list of things I feel like doing after I get home. That's why I process all my produce on the weekends for either freezing or storing in the fridge so I can easily throw together a meal during the week or some other time.

Like that Saturday morning when I wanted an omelet filled with bacon, poblanos, garlic, and onions. 

Besides spending time on the weekend doing the aforementioned, I will also cook up different meats and cut up fresh veg and greens then put them into containers in the refrigerator. This past weekend I cooked some taco meat, roasted a pork loin & a few chicken breasts, made a loaf of keto bread, cut up broccoli & cauliflower florets, chopped up a bunch of romaine, and washed a package of clearance baby butter leaves. Combine any of these with the vegetables and/or stock I have in my freezer, and I'm all set to make easy meals for dinner and my work lunches during the week. 

Spending a bit of time on your days off to get food processed for later use is incredibly helpful and prevents waste. I hope this helps inspire you to preserve your own foods, especially during these trying financial times.



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