Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
It has been so warm lately but there is still work to be done in the kitchen. I took time this weekend to put up some fruits and veggies and chocolate sauce for the winter. I also had some roses that my dear husband gave me for my birthday that dried nicely that I tossed in the picture for added beauty. Speaking for my dear husband, he likes, really likes Italian food so I put some of the ingredients (mushrooms and bell peppers), in the freezer for the upcoming fall months. These two ingredients go in my homemade Lasagna and Spaghetti sauce and I also top my homemade Pizza with these items.
It also helps to put these things away myself so I know exactly what is in them as I am allergic to chemicals and preservatives.. A salad bar may look great but it could be sprayed with preservatives! When I can find a good deal on produce I begin an assembly line and work till it is all put into the freezer before the heat spoils it. Although life does intercede at times and I loose some produce to the heat.
Mushrooms: Wash and dry then slice, and pat dry. I place mushrooms directly into plastic zip lock baggies, then into a paper back that has been dated and then placed into the freezer for up to six months.(Dehydrating the sliced mushrooms give them a fantastic flavor and shelf life as well....just prepare the same way and dry them on a dehydrator, and store in an airtight jar)
Bell Peppers: Wash, dry, and core, then scrap all the seeds out. Slice and then dice and place into zip lock bags and into a paper bag and date... then placed into the freezer for up to six months.
If the power goes off in the winter up here you can just place them on the back porch in an ice chest :)
St. Bernard with Keg in Snow, Sun Valley, Idaho
Strawberries: As soon as I get these beauties home from the fields or the store, I drop them into cool water while I put away the groceries and then remove the stems and freeze a batch whole and make a batch of Freezer Strawberry sauce according to Pomonas Universal Pectin. I only use one cup of sugar to make a batch. The flavor is so much closer to the real thing in the winter! It does come out a bit thinner this way but company loves it over ice cream with a bit of the chocolate sauce drizzled over it as well. Strawberries can spoil so quickly in the heat so only leave out a few to eat fresh and put the others away for the future.Straw berries can also be dehydrated. Wash, de-stem and slice the strawberries. Soak slices in lemon juice and water for a few minutes and drain (Or sprinkle with Fruit Fresh) and dry on a dehydrator. Tear the strawberry in half..if no moisture beads are present, they are done and can be stored in an airtight container.
These methods work well with other fruits and veggies like...cantaloupe, carrots, onions, bananas and many more.
Chocolate Sauce: This is the part Dear husband likes. When I find a good deal on cocoa I will put up a catch of chocolate sauce as well. I usually just store this in the fridge in small batches as it is easy to make and goes quickly.
Melt 1/4 stick butter in a large sauce pan on low heat, stirring constantly to keep from scorching
add four cups powdered sugar and 3/4 cups cocoa
with a wire whisk stir in one can evaporated milk until smooth
add 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir till melted
turn off heat and add two teaspoons good quality vanilla
and stir until glossy
Store in glass canning jars in the fridge.
Can be reheated in the microwave.
Except for the small amount I leave out to share with family for a taste of these items, we save the rest for the winter months after the first snow fall. It is such a good feeling to know that you have prepared in advance to feed the family, saved on store prices and have gourmet, chemical preservative free foods to use and share with invited guests.
Herbs: Planting herbs around the garden and home make for a nice addition to the family meal. After harvesting the herbs, wash, pat dry de-stem. Place the leaves on a dehydrator shelf till dry. Place in air tight containers. Basil, rosemary, oregano, and cilantro bring added flavor to your meals, and Mint, Chocolate Mint, Fennel, Chamomile, and even Rose petals are nice to have on hand for making tea.
More help with canning and freezing...Frugality 101