Many generations have relied heavily on “canning” food and I am not referring to metal canned items lining shelves in an average modern grocery store. Yes, mason jars reigned. Once upon a time, preserving food in this way from the various harvest seasons allowed for produce to be enjoyed across the cold, non-harvest months.
Thankfully, consumer trends have seemed to revive a likening for the jars. Some of this is fashion, however also, at least I feel, a returned interest to classic and “clean” recipes (and packaging methods) has further instigated.
Somehow, I have turned into my grandmother and became a collector of what I deem “re-usable” glass jars. Pickle jars are often fantastic, but I have re-used the jars from coconut oil, mustard, and tomato products stored in glass among other things. I had so many greens last summer and fall that I started chopping them up into jars and freezing them for winter. At one point, I counted 17!
NOTE – be careful which jars you freeze as some designs are not good for this and will break in the freezer… I have learned this the hard way! Therefore, for any foods that take more preparation, please use good, sturdy mason jars such Ball or Kerr.
This all brings me to my point… Jarred or stored away foods are great for winter recipe planning. Now, if you are like me and have an abundance of frozen greens, you have great sustenance for smoothies or soups. However other “good ideas” are fruits, jarred tomatoes or juice, stocks, and purees (my CSA actually puts pureed squash in freezer bags for winter share deliveries).
In fact, using the correct preservation methods, you can make a fair amount that is shelf stable versus frozen or refrigerated. It’s a great way to get in a few of the things you might miss over the winter months (or will pay an arm and a leg for at a grocery store).
My top 5 are:
Tomatoes – I can use about any type of prepared tomato (diced, stewed, juiced, etc) for a hearty cooked dish; soups, curries, stews & chili’s, & layered baked dishes just to name a few.
Pickled Anything & Krauted Foods – Did you know that the term “pickles” is not just for cucumbers? Thankfully some savvy farm to table restaurants are reviving this notion and so should you. Just about any farm, fresh vegetable can be pickled. If you have followed my posts for a while, it is incredibly easy to pickle using vinegar and water with desired herbs and seasonings. Making a Kraut isn’t all that hard either and how about the probiotic boost it will give you!
Fresh Herbs – There are some technical methods online for “how” to do this, but I typically just freeze them in small packs in order to use as needed. If you have a wonderful indoor growing system, then this may not be useful, but if you don’t have room for one, freezing the excess in summer and fall is a good back up plan.
Greens – You guessed it. Why let those fresh nutrient rich options go to waste? Frozen, they can be used in most any stove-top dish; stir-fries, soups, sautés, etc. I have even thrown excess lettuce in the freezer to later add to smoothies.
Fruit Preserves – This is a guilty pleasure and not something I would recommend for your daily plan. I probably go through less than ½ a dozen jars of preserves a year and they are small. However, it’s a winter treat that I can use for oatmeal crisps, with nut butters, drizzled over banana “ice cream”, or simply by the spoon.