Preserving- looking for inspiration!

One of the most important things I want to be able to do this year is preserve our food. I currently rely on my freezer to keep most of our food which, while useful, isn’t ideal. I don’t like the thought that if our power was to go off then we would lose most of our food!

Last year I tried a few different ways to use our foraged and grown food. I made my first ever attempts at jam, blackberry liqueur and red onion chutney. All of them worked which was an unexpected surprise! However there were some drawbacks. 

For a start I didn’t realise just how little chutney would be produced from what I thought was a decent harvest of our onions. I spent hours chopping and reducing my onions to only end up with three small jars. This seemed like a poor use of time I could have otherwise spent in the garden. 

*I have just been informed by my husband that I have an attachment for my mixer that would have done all that dicing in seconds-thanks for letting me know!* 

Secondly I really need to get an outdoor space to cook if I’m going to be spending any amount of time boiling vinegar- that’s a scent that really sticks! My jam making went well but my first attempt (plum and apple) was overboiled. Its still very edible but definitely over set and more akin to jelly. Lastly my blackberry liquer. Its an absolute winner for taste, and was super over Christmas in a glass of fizz, but made using shop bought wine. I’d definitely like to try a homebrew for this year.

There were some unsuccessful attempts as well… I tried grating and freezing my courgettes for baking some vegan cakes with- that was a disaster. I also have no idea of the best way to store my apples and potatoes. Does anyone have any successful methods they’ve used?

For this year I’m hoping to have a lot more food to store and preserve. I’ve been looking into canning, dehydrating and pickling as methods of preservation but to be honest I have no idea where to start…it also all seems to cost a lot of money to get setup initially. Not so helpful to our budget. I know though that I’ll have to spend some money to save in the long term. It does just feel like another setback from paying off the debt though…

We’re lucky that we currently stay by a canal which has an abundance of bramble and raspberry bushes. This means I’m saving a whole load of space in our garden and still able to get some fantastic berries. I harvested 3kg of blackberries and could have had more just from the nightly dog walks. One thing I’d love to make is some cordial to use for squash. If I was able to make this instead of buying it then it could end up saving us a lot of money. 

I’ve been looking at this years planting and there’s just too many things I’d love to grow. I’m as easily seduced by a seed catalogue as most women are supposed to be in a shoe shop! I want them all. So I’m trying to be judicious in what we grow. I want to have proposed methods for storing anything that we do grow before we even start. If you have any preferred varieties of veg for preserving then please let me know πŸ™‚

I aim to make tomato sauce for pasta and pizzas, I’d like to try tomato puree as well. I’d also like to try pickled onions and beetroot, different jams and chutneys but after that I’m stuck on what else I can make…I’m definitely looking for inspiration!

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debtfreearnolds

A married couple from Scotland. Debt free wannabees, future homesteaders and grow your own enthusiasts.

18 thoughts on “Preserving- looking for inspiration!”

  1. Here’s some things I preserve or make myself: pickles, sauerkraut, chili, soups, enchilada sauce, spaghetti sauce, jam, root beer (home brew), ginger ale (home brew), “soy” sauce, relishes, mayo, dried fruits, jerky. In the next year or two we are going to try making our own sausage, also canning normal veggies and fruits like onions, nectarines, apples. Potatoes are a main staple here in Alaska and I’m sure similar to Scotland in the growing season. They do well here. We do not clean the dirt off of them just put them in boxes/paper bags in a cool, dark cellar or under the house/in the garage.

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    1. Oh I never thought of making ginger ale before, that sounds exceptionally tasty! Do you find your potatoes last? I kept mine in our pantry cupboard which is completely dark and cool and found they didn’t last very long at all :\ what’s the best way you’ve found to dry your fruits?

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      1. Did you have anything else stored by your potatoes? Onions in particular will off-gas and cause the potatoes to go bad. They also need air and the dirt should be left on them. I currently use a food dehydrator to dry my herbs and fruits and fruit leathers but I know that you use other methods like the sun that I don’t use right now but in the future I will be looking in to alternative methods of drying to reduce our reliance on power.

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      2. I had some onions in the same cupboard (although in a separate box) so maybe that’s what it was! I don’t think we’ll ever have enough sun to dry my herbs by that, haha. A dehydrator could maybe be next years purchase for food preserving πŸ™‚

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  2. I know, it can be so intimidating to think about all of the things we could possibly be doing. The best advice I have read is to start with foods you know you will use. If you need a lot of onions and potatoes, then plant plenty of them. You can (and should) try to grow new foods, but if you keep the amount of new things you try limited, you will be less likely to get overwhelmed. I don’t know what you have if anything for a cellar/basement, but even a patch of ground that is covered with a bale of hay can be a good place to store potatoes and carrots over winter (though I’d look into it for your growing zone). If you are looking for inexpensive, I would go with the water bath canner. It’s the least cost prohibitive to get into.
    We made some wine this year and were very surprised at just how easy it was to make. There is room for improvement, but it’s very simple, so I wouldn’t be intimidated to try that if I were you. You really don’t need any equipment other than a half-gallon jar, a pot, wooden spoon, and a strainer.
    If I can find the information I have on cold storage or wine making, I will pass it along!

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    1. Thanks, that’d be great! Husband has been trying to convince me to get make mead- its all part of his master plan to convince me to keep bees πŸ˜‰ I’ll look into water canning then and give it a go. Have you tried any good ‘experimental’ crops?

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      1. We are getting honey bees this year, and there is talk of mead being made here πŸ™‚ I don’t know if you have any/many thrift or resale stores where you come from, but sometimes I find things like some canning supplies at them. I used to be quite a picky eater, so just about everything was experimental to me. Butternut squash was rather adventurous for me in the beginning, and I love it. We’ve mostly stuck to basics, I can’t think of anything crazy we’ve tried, but this year we are going to add some more variety. I’ll let you know what we come up with!

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      2. I wouldnt actually mind getting honey bees, they’re so vital, I just don’t think its practical till we have land! My husband is a picky eater but he’s the same- if we grow it he’ll try it! The next big thing to try and convince him is not to eat meat everyday. I’ve also been looking at alternatives for pastas and meats. I tried to grow spaghetti squash but it was at the end of autumn and the cold got to them… This year maybe

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      3. No, I understand, I wouldn’t want them either if we didn’t have the room! I think just growing things and trying them is a great way to get started. We made beet ravioli one year which the kids and I didn’t like, but at least I tried it! I used to eat meat all of the time until I started to really see how expensive it is. We don’t anymore. We started to eat rice, look for vegetarian dishes to make, dishes that would use up our produce without needing meat. We still eat meat, just not nearly as much as we used to.

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  3. Here is a link to a video on wine making. He gets a little fancy with storage and how much he filters and strains, but you don’t have to. The taste will change the longer you let it ferment.

    Here are some links on in-ground food storage.
    http://www.provident-living-today.com/Root-Cellar.html
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/garden-yard/bucket-size-root-cellar-zmaz10onzraw
    You can leave carrots and potatoes right in the ground, but if the ground gets too cold, digging them out could be tricky. Some of these show ways to bury a container in-ground for the same concept, but with easier removal, since they are pre-dug.

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    1. He’s southern, so he might be difficult for you to understand. The gist is you make a simple syrup and pour that over fresh fruit. Put in a 1/2 gallon mason jar, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 5 months. Filter, and either drink or store.

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  4. I’m finally making it over to your blog and glad I did–partially because I’m excited to follow your adventure, and partially because I think I may already have some answers for you! My house and kitchen are tiny, so I do my canning outdoors on a double-burner propane crab cooker–it heats the canning kettle quickly and keeps the house from reeking of vinegar. I’m storing both apples and potatoes; my tips for doing so are here: https://twiceastasty.com/2016/11/15/dig-it-store-it/. And if you still have courgettes in your freezer, give this recipe a try: https://twiceastasty.com/2016/06/28/zucchini/#pancake. I talk in the Tips & Tricks section making these cakes from the freezer. I also use frozen and grated courgettes (zucchini to me) all winter in quick bread.

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    1. Thanks so much for the tips πŸ™‚ I have actually used your pizza recipe for our sourdough! I have some pics of the finished pizzas but can’t figure out how to show you them! They were a success (although my oven isn’t as hot as it should be so I should have pre-baked for a bit longer!)

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      1. Excellent! I’m glad they worked well and you found a solution for your oven. I don’t think WordPress lets others post photos on the blog, but you can join the Twice as Tasty Facebook group and share photos there: https://www.facebook.com/groups/twiceastasty/. Feel free to share other thoughts about food and some of your own blog posts there too–although my stuff currently dominates, it’s meant to be an open forum where people can ask questions, share advice, and be inspired.

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