My days over the past few weeks (when not traveling, that is) have been filled with food preservation. The shelves are slowly, but steadily filling with jars of tomatoes, corn, pickles, and soup. And the freezer has been filling with green beans and cherry tomatoes. It feels so great to make so much progress in putting up the food that will nourish us throughout the coming year. It's so very satisfying. A lot of what I preserve I buy at the farmer's market. While our garden produces quite a bit of food for fresh eating, as of now it doesn't produce quite enough for much preserving. The few things that I do preserve from our own plot of land are tomato sauce from my six sauce tomato plants, cherry tomatoes when we can't keep up eating them (I roast them in the oven with herbs and olive oil for a bit and then freeze them), green beans (which I freeze as they come in to the kitchen), fermented jalapeños, and a couple jars of pickled mixed veggies to be used in Bloody Mary's (yum!). Everything else is from the farmer's market such as the quartered tomatoes, the dill pickles (both vinegar-based and fermented), the corn, and the tomato soup (recipe to follow soon!). I am hoping to make carrot tomato soup in the next few weeks with ingredients from my garden, but we'll see if the warm temps hold out long enough to get me a good amount of tomatoes in a relatively short amount of time...we'll see...fall has definitely been in the air off and on over the past couple weeks in these parts.
With all of the farmer's market buying that I've been doing, I've learned a few tips. First, get to know the people who run the different stands. I've found some who will happily throw in extra of this and that if you buy a bunch of something from them, and I've found others who won't. Second, it's a lot easier to barter if you are buying more than one item, if you are down to your last couple dollars, or if you are buying a large quantity of something. Don't be afraid to ask! I'm amazed at how often I can buy something for less just because I ask! Third, there are certain vegetables that don't have to look perfect for preserving. For example, cucumbers should all be firm and freshly picked if you are going to pickle them. However, tomatoes can have many imperfections and still make great soups, sauces, and even diced/quartered tomatoes. Just cut off the bad parts and keep the good!
I do so love the task of preserving and all that goes into it. Even though it makes for very long days in a warm kitchen, I find the gathering of produce and the filling of shelves so very satisfying in the end.
How about you?? What delicious things from summer have you been tucking away for winter??