In Connecticut there are a few weeks left in “pick your own season.” There are still apples to be plucked, as well as pears and raspberries. Winter squash is making its first appearance, and tomatoes “with issues” are available at a good price. Now is a great time to put a little food by.
Canning is not a tradition with which I am very familiar. I canned applesauce once under my mother-in-law’s supervision, but, frankly, it made me nervous. That does not mean, however, that I don’t participate in the autumn tradition of preserving food. I simply choose to use a different method — freezing.
I have discovered that freezing is a particularly good way to store applesauce, apple crisp, berries, baked goods, cooked squash, tomato confit, and batches of soup or chili. All you need is space in the freezer, appropriate containers (squeaky clean), and properly prepared food or produce.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation, established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (CSREES-USDA) to address food safety concerns for those who practice and teach home food preservation and processing methods, is an excellent site, with everything you need to know about freezing, including general information on such topics as:
- Containers for Freezing
- Foods That Do Not Freeze Well
- Headspace to Allow
- How Long To Store Frozen Foods
Here are some tips of my own:
- Always label your containers with the name of the item and the date on which you put it in the freezer. [Entirely different things can look remarkably similar once frozen.]
- Freeze your leftovers if you know you won’t get to them in a timely fashion.
- You can freeze milk and juice if you are going on a trip.
- Never heat any plastic container in the microwave. Empty the contents into glass before nuking it.
- Your freezer runs more efficiently when it is filled [Note: This does not mean stuffed.]
Food Waste is a pet peeve of mine. Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland, blogs about how America wastes nearly half of its food and what we can do about it.
Use your freezer wisely and do your bit to stop food waste. You might even find yourself with some spare green in your wallet for living a little greener.
And, if you decide you do want to give canning a try, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has info on that, too.
I often blog on food or food issues on Monday in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”