Local Food in Winter

pantry 004

Now that it’s November and the weather is cool, the garden is put to bed, and people are already thinking about Christmas, I’m thinking about eating locally throughout the winter.

I wasn’t as successful with preserving the harvest over the summer as I had wanted.  I’ve got tons of excuses: tomato blight so I didn’t get enough tomatoes to can; taking a 3-week long intensive summer class; the first trimester making me tired and too hot to work in the garden or over a canner…  My excuses go on.  Although I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, we’re still in pretty good position to eat locally.

In the next few week, Ed’s family will be slaughtering the turkeys and pigs.  Ed’s uncle will do the same with his cows and we’ll get our 1/4 in December.  So, we’ll have local, humanely and organically raised turkey and pork, as well as grass-fed beef in our freezer.  I can’t explain how wonderful it is to bypass the meat case in the grocery store, except for the occasional piece of salmon or chicken.  Local milk and eggs are available year round, so that’s easy.

The pantry is pretty well stocked with jellies (strawberry’s almost gone already, but peach and apple-cider jelly are plentiful), applesauce, cranapplesauce, chutneys, and maple syrup.  There are storage onions in a basket.  There are also sugared and plain strawberries in the freezer, along with wild Maine blueberries, green beans, snap peas, carrots, tomato sauce, butternut squash, and chicken stock.

So what are we missing? Well, I didn’t freeze any corn this summer, which I regret.  I wish we had canned tomatoes, but the blight took care of that.  Canned peaches would be wonderful.  Some storage potatoes and more onions would be nice.  I’d love to have made saurkraut, but I don’t know how yet.  (However, one of my uncles has offered to teach me.  Unfortunately, we already had plans for when he’s making it this year.)  More carrots and a winter garden would be good, but I missed the window for planting and it’s too late now.  I had wanted to get cold frames up and running, but that never happened either.

I think instead of looking at the failures, we need to realize how lucky we are to be prepared.  While our stores aren’t perfect, they’re good enough.  At least we’ll be inspired to do more next year during the growing season.  As the years go by and our berry patch and apples start to produce, as we add peach, plum, pear and cherry trees, get chickens and build a barn and greenhouse (that one will probably be 20 years!), our independence will grow.  Besides, if we were perfectly independent now, what would I daydream about?

How do you eat locally out of season?

12 Comments

Filed under Food, Gardening, Home, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

12 responses to “Local Food in Winter

  1. We also have 1/4 steer in the freezer, along with some of our own hog and (soon) a couple of cabritos (I use the Spanish so I don’t have to say “kids” and get everyone confused about cannibalism). Also several gallons of apple cider. My chickens are still producing eggs, but the goats have dried off, so no more homestead milk and cheese. I have canned tomatoes, beans, jam, and pickles, though not a whole winter’s worth.

  2. Thankfully, we have a year-round growing season here. For veggies, I can eat out of my backyard non-stop. Pecans, being harvested this month, will be bought in bulk to last me for many months to come. Fruit, well, the peach crop was awful this year. so I didn’t get any canned, so I’ll be relying on Texas grapefruit to get me from pears (still in season) until strawberries (mid February).

    I still have plenty in the pantry – home-canned soups, corn, and pasta sauce. Plus, there’s all those sweet potatoes in the cool, dark hall closet.

    I don’t eat meat or dairy, so any local foods I’m missing from my stock can be purchased at the farmers’ market or a local grocery.

    We have it pretty easy here in Central Texas! Well, at least as far as growing through the winter…

  3. It’s pretty much storage stuff (potatoes, onions), canned and frozen items, plus whatever carrots, lettuce and other things can be coaxed out of the ground.

    I would give yourself a free pass next year since you’ll have a baby and, as much as it seems like you’ll have extra free time, most likely you’ll be too tired to do anything too intensive.

  4. We have local grass fed beef, local pork and local turkey. I got quite a bit canned up from my garden. Eggs from my chickens and local raw milk. Its still not nearly enough, but each year it gets better and easier.

    For you, take a break. Working full time and then taking care of a newborn is going to take a lot of your time and energy for the next year. Its so nice with the first baby, because you can actually sleep when they sleep. Its a luxury you’ll miss with future babies, take advantage while you can. You need to wallow in the wonder of your newborn.

  5. kaya10

    I just discovered your blog recently through growing naturally. How do we eat locally over winter? Jellies, we have already run out of our storage potatoes, but we still have some albeit softer onions left. I froze chard, kale and spinach, peaches, and raspberries. When the Cilantro and basil was abundant we made TONS of pesto and froze it. We made 6 pumpkin pies today and froze those. Let’s see, we have chickens and we are getting some local cow soon. Hurrah!
    Love your blog – when is your due date?

  6. I feel like you do. Every year, I do a bit more, grow more, preserve more, find out what things I liked frozen, what I liked canned and so on. This year, I’m kicking myself for not canning tomatoes (only made frozen pasta sauce). Aw well, as you’ve said before, thank goodness it is still a choice and I can still go to the store to supplement what I don’t have the time or forethought to put away.

  7. I don’t have the meat you do, but I have strawberries in the freezer still, strawberry and blueberry jam to last me a year, apples, applesauce and apple pie filling, potatoes should last a while, enough chicken and turkey stock to get through the winter. It’s not a lot, but it’s my first year and I think we will get better year after year. Oh, and about 20 quarts of homemade marinara sauce – how could I forget that! And Crunchy is right…you will be very busy next year, too…

  8. It’s really hard. I made a lot of canned goods last year but this year I didn’t get anything done. (We had so much rain!) I am going to have to plan better next year.

  9. We raise our own meats and that is always a blessing. We are so grateful to the Lord that He allows us to do that. I did can quite a bit and freeze some. I have kraut in 2 crocks that I need to deal with. I still have applesauce to make and I want to dehydrate some more apple rings. Those things are better than cookies!!! We have our own dairy cow, so milk is plentiful as well as our own eggs. God has been very good to us and we are thankful!!!

  10. Tia

    We had the same tomato problem here in Colorado. I froze lots of apples, pesto, bananas, grapes, peaches, apricots & raspberries, although the strawberries are almost gone. The kids found them. 🙂 I am hoping to be able to buy 1/4 beef next year but for this winter we will be cutting back drastically on our meat consumption as the price at the grocery store is ridiculous. I am waiting for our yearly Christmas gift from the grandparents of canned jellies, salsas & jams. I only have 1 jar left from last years.

    Also, i agree with the others, plan to relax next year with the baby, although gardening can be done (I wore my babies in traditional slings on my back) I think that resting whenever you get the chance is the way to go.

  11. This is my first year storing local food for the winter as well. We should be ok on strawberry jams & jellies -there are about 2 dozen in the pantry, plus the raspberry jam. I’ve just canned 12 pints applesauce, and have the same to do again, plus 40lbs of granny smith apples to dry & can. A lot of food has been dried, and we have a box of winter squash stored as well.

    I’m still putting up, for as long as the local market is open. I’m not sure how long things will last, but it’s a learning year.

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