The sounds coming from our home these days seem to be a mix of the thrum of the food dehydrator, the whir of the food processor, the squeal of the FoodSaver, and the mash of the Vitamix. I had everything shut off for a short time early this morning and the girls asked why the house was so quiet! Ha!
That kicked off a flurry of questions about why the kitchen is a continued state of disarray with all these gadgets dominating the very minimal counter space we have (if you’ve seen our kitchen, you know!). “I’m preserving things for when summer is over,” I explained. “Preserving?” they asked. I went on to explain that the jam they love on their toast doesn’t come from a store and that the berries they get in muffins or crisp over winter were picked back at the height of the season. That freezing, canning, pickling, drying, were all types of preserving.
Given the number of incredible growers and sustenance-seekers we know of in our region, I imagine conversations like ours are not uncommon and are happening between others who are full of questions, eager to learn, and perhaps not quite sure where to start. Preserving the harvest helps you continue to eat local once the frost hits. If we can preserve even a minimal amount of food for use beyond the growing season, then we’ve accomplished much: we’ve reduced the costs spent on food for our families and by extension, we’ve contributed to our local food security.
If preserving the harvest is something you’d like to do, but don’t know where to start, don’t be turned off by thinking you need to run and buy all the gadgets I listed earlier. My food processor is 10 years old this week (I know this because we’ll be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary on Thursday! <3) and the other items I’ve acquired periodically throughout the years. Scrounge your nearby garage sales, visit a thrift store, ask your mama, your auntie, barter, or trade for them!
There are also heaps of local producers and makers in this region who will grow it or preserve it for you if you don’t desire to do the actual preparation yourself. There are canners, bakers, vegetable and berry producers distributed throughout the entire Peace region who have got you covered!
With the exception of canning equipment, the only materials that I think you need to have to start preserving are the following:
* A cool, dark area in your home with good ventilation to hang bundles
* Cotton thread, twine, or elastic bands – to bundle vegetation for drying
* Scissors – to snip herbs, medicinals, etc.
* A freezer – for berries, vegetables, etc.
* Glass jars with lids or wax paper and elastic bands – for storing dried plants, herbs, berries
* Masking tape – for creating labels
* Sharpie – for labelling
This week we’re harvesting comfrey, mint, and lemon balm for drying. The dehydrator has been going since earlier today and I’ll start another batch before bedtime tonight.
It is the season of plenty right now and we are so lucky to live in a region of the province that produces so much bounty in such an incredibly short time.
What’s your favourite thing to dry for later in the season?