On Beeing A Cicada (or: Food Preservation)

La Cigale, ayant chanté
Tout l’été,
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Quand la bise fut venue. *

Jean de LA FONTAINE (La Cigale et La Fourmi)

While I don’t think you have to toil the entire summer to put some food by, this is certainly the time to practice food preservation.

Why? Self-sufficiency, thriftiness, budgetary contraints, desire to eat well, and convenience are all factors in my desire to do so. And yes, I do mean “convenience”. What’s more convenient than going to one’s pantry to pick up a jar of tomato juice, a pint jar of vanilla peaches, and a bag of dry zucchini chips and cherry tomatoes, open the freezer for some roasted peppers, and pesto cubes, and proceed to make a good soup full of summer flavors and a peach cobbler? It’s late and the closest country store is an 18 miles return trip (it’s closed at this hour anyway) and the closest grocery store is 60 miles away… so yes, it is convenient to have a pantry. Even if grocery stores are not that far, it still make sense to put food up now, when so many veggies are abundant, at peak flavors and with peak nutrients.

– Dry: herbs, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, plums, blueberries etc

– Can: tomatoes, peaches, plums, nectarines, tomatilloes, etc

– Freeze: cherry tomatoes, strawberries, wineberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, corn, green beans, swiss chard, pesto etc

– Jam: all the fruit you can think of

– Pickle: peppers, cucumbers, okra, beans, purslane (either can or make refrigerator pickle, or even lacto-ferment – the original pickling at which I am trying my hand this summer)

– Make liqueurs & syrups: herbs & fruit

yes, it does take some time, but it’s much easier to tackle if you just do a little every day. Then it won’t feel like this unsurmountable mountain. For example, after dinner, chop, bag & freeze 2 bagful of peppers, or cherry tomatoes, or slice enough zucchini for one dehydrator batch.That may take only 20 minutes – quite manageable. Then, maybe twice a month, set aside a morning to do some canning. And watch your pantry fill… just like the garden, start small, get used to the different techniques. And of course, only preserve things you will eat!!! (no need to make 10 quarts of Salsa if your family might only eat a pint or two the entire winter…)

* The Cicada, having spent the whole summer singing
Found itself rather without food
Once the winter winds started to blow



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