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Putting Up for Winter So We Can Eat Local

Eating local in the winter has always been an enigma to me. Where do you find local produce during the New England winter? I really let snow, harsh temperatures and a lack of understanding come between my family and the tastiest local foods.

But earlier this summer, I had an epiphany — it’s not about finding local food, it’s about preparing to have local food all year. It take more effort, more foresight and more work to eat locally all year … but it’s so worth it.

That’s why I was happy thrilled to buy a big crate of tomatoes at the farmer’s market this weekend. They weren’t the prettiest fruits, but they were fresh, local and ready to be processed. I spent the weekend, peeling, seeding, processing and cooking the tomatoes into a garden marinara and tomato paste using recipes from Preserving Summer’s Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow. I bought this book several years ago when I first developed an interest in canning. At the time, I didn’t really like the broadness of it and I ended up buying another book. However, I’ve grown to love it. The recipes are reliable and you can find a little of everything in it. Who knew I would eventually want to can more than just jam?

Anyway, back to the tomatoes.

Twelve half-pints of marinara and four cups of paste later, we are set for the next couple of months — on pasta, at least. But these are joining the Roasted Herbed Carrots and frozen strawberries, as well as the four half-pints of strawberry jam just waiting to be eaten. I have also roasted a lot of tomatoes.

It hasn’t been a perfect haul. We will still need other veggies to help us make it through the dreary doldrums of winter, but when it starts to get to be too much, I need only toss some roasted tomatoes from the freezer with a little olive oil and pasta to feel refreshed.

Do you do any putting up for winter?


Wednesday 7th of October 2009

I put up 60+lbs of tomatoes into various sauces and soups. There were also many bunches of basil that went into pesto and pound of roasted tomatoes that also became a pesto. It won't take us through the entire winter but it will help to be able to defrost some summer sunshine on a gray, dark, subzero day. If I had the room I'd do more. Thanks for the inspiration!!

Cate O'Malley

Wednesday 7th of October 2009

Sounds like you're ready for a delicious Fall!


Wednesday 7th of October 2009

I did store food last winter, mostly through my full-size deep freezer, "cool-dry-place" root veg, and a bit of a foray into a dehydrator for dried apples. And it went well! I was able to eat locally throughout the winter, though the lesson learned was to store fewer potatoes and more of, well, other root veg ;-) This year I'm doing the same, with the addition of canning. I was scared to death with the first batches, but now it is just a happy experience. Thinking of that salsa, delicious tomato sauce, peaches, pickles... yes, I'm glad I learned to can, and hope I can also learn how to store carrots and parsnips better this year. Last year, those were the root crops that didn't quite make it as well as I'd hoped.