Will You Put Putting Up on Your Local Calender

September 4, 2009 at 8:57 am

Rob Gardner

We waited about as long as we could wait for Labor Day this year.  So long, I bet you’ve used up all your summer vacation activities.  So, instead of looking backwards this weekend, look ahead.  Think about the days when it will be a lot harder to find a market near you.  How ’bout find some time this holiday to put things up, to make the most of the seasonal bounty.  The linked article from Melissa and I provides a good overview of the methods used for food storage and preservation and covers the basic issues.  For more detailed explanations of canning and freezing, you can do no worse than Ball’s web site.  Much instruction is there.  Another site to get lost in is the USDA supported National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Beyond canning and freezing, this site covers things like drying and fermenting.  Don’t put aside your putting away because you do not have the resources.

I’ll tell you, I am more a lover and appreciator of put-up foods than a good do-er.  I lean on my wife to do our canning.  She makes excellent tomatoes and peaches.  I’ll also tell you, if you do not have such a lovely companion, here are several ideas for easy food preservation:

  • Frozen melon balls – Eating a piece of cantaloupe from the freezer is like getting an instant sorbet
  • Tomato concentrate – Is cooking plum tomatoes way down necessarily easier than canning?  Perhaps, especially if you use a food mill instead of peeling the tomatoes.  Concentrate is quite versatile in the kitchen and takes up little room in your freezer.
  • Dried herbs – Certain herbs, basil, parsley, are meaningless dried, but others, thyme, mint and especially oregano have great use in your kitchen.  It takes no skill to leave bunches of oregano lying around, but you will be quite happy you did it.
  • Peppers in oil – I love roasted peppers.  I hate roasting peppers.  I like to get it done in one fell swoop, and the roasted peppers will stay a long time in the fridge covered in oil.
  • Peppers in vinegar – I love roasted peppers.  I hate roasting peppers.  I like to get it done in one fell swoop, and the roasted peppers will stay a long time in the fridge covered in vinegar (with a bit of sugar for balance).
  • Caponata – After cooking this medley of exactly in season produce, it will last a long while for you.  It makes a sandwich a meal.  Or spread some on your sandwich.  You can even mix it with pasta. 
  • Preserved lemons – Hey, your putting up does not have to be of strictly local products.  Preserving lemons is easy.  Rob Levitt at Mado has shown the many good uses for preserved lemons with your actual local foods.

Besides your acts of preservation, it is not too soon to start stocking up on onions and garlic as you can keep them around without finding a cool storage spot.  Just find a dark spot to keep them from sprouting.

When you are tired of putting up, what else will be on your Local Calender. 

I’m sure like the whole Local Family, you’ll be at Ice Cream Fest tonight.

Stop by Green City Market to pledge local and pick up your locavore kit on Saturday.  The Local Beet’s own Sustainable Cook, will be giving a demo there at 1030.

It’s not too late to organize an Eat-in for better school lunches on Monday.

It’s not too late to sign up for the Local Beet’s Farm Dinner on September 20.  Melissa has been un-leasing menu ideas on Michael and I, and I for one cannot wait until the 20th.  (Hint, Melissa, if you need to do a tasting, I have time.)

Another thing to get on your calender is the Chef’s Collaborative National Summit, Bringing Sustainability to the Table in Chicago on September 15 and 16.  You are invited to an array of events.

Will you bring one of your preserved items to the TomatoFest pot luck next Thursday (9/10)?

Get this on your Local Calender: Seventh Generation Ahead Benefit, November  6 at the Union League Club.  Yours truly is on the Host Committee so expect to be inundated on this.  In fact, sign up quickly just to avoid me.

Put your labors to local foods this long weekend.