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December 4, 2012

I Eat Local Because I Can

This graphic was being passed around 'the facebook' yesterday and I just think its terrific. I found it here as a tshirt.

This really struck a cord with me and got me thinking about how some of my canning and preserving projects this summer were real winners. Whether you are just getting started with projects such as canning beans or making stock - or something more elaborate such as canning ground meat - preserving your own food is a great investment.

I kicked it up a notch with classic projects by canning duck and chicken stock in half pint jars for when I just need a little stock...and also small and large batches of tomato sauce. The other day I grabbed a half pint of tomato sauce and some cream for a super easy tomato soup (and toasted cheese sammi) for lunch. What could be quicker? Or easier?

And don't forget freezing! You don't need fancy equipment to freeze "home made" food - just some freezer quality bags and a little time.

Last nite I was digging around in the freezer and I reminded myself that I have to call out a few projects so I can remember to do them next year:

1. Blanching and freezing sweet, mild, and hot peppers. 
This has got to be one of my favorite "wins" from this summer. I found a market where I could get a peck basket (about 8 pounds) of peppers for between $3 and $5. So I tried blanching then freezing them in quart bags. Talk about a winner! This is one of my favorite projects. I didn't think it would work - I was worried about the quality. But nope. It was easy and I'm using the peppers like mad in stir fries, nachos, and sauces.

2. Making our own salsa.
I love home made salsa. Its a fun "starter" project and it really pays off. Sure you could pay $1 a jar for a store brand salsa...or up to $7 for a fancy brand... but making your own is a great way to get it exactly how you like it. And you can grow most of the ingredients yourself - even in containers. Aside from The Giant Pepper Poke Disaster - this is always a great canning project.

3. Making my own Sriracha sauce.
What's Sriracha sauce? It's that sweet hot thai chili sauce. I found a recipe here that I loosely followed. However, I did not can my version. Unless its an approved recipe then I won't take a chance. Its easy enough to put something like this in the freezer - or just make small batches and keep them in the fridge. I really loved how my version turned out and I add just a bit to my stir fries or use it as a base for eggroll dipping sauce. There is also a sambal oelek sauce that I'd like to try - this looks beautiful.

4. That Peach-Pepper Jelly.
This turned out great. I only made a couple small batches but next time I'll make more. I can use this for our Asian-food-nights and also for smoked or roasted pork. I really like that I put this in small half pints as I only use a little bit at a time.

5. Fruit Cobblers in small/single freezer servings. 
This is still the best idea I never had. Quite by chance I used a freezer container that was the same size as one of my small baking pans. This makes it to easy to have a cobbler for breakfast or a snack. I was able to buy baskets of second or third quality peaches for a steal and they ended up as large pans of cobbler - which then ended up as single or small serving cobblers.

I'm really encouraging everyone to give canning and preserving your own food a try. Sure you could just go and buy this stuff at the store. But chances are those foods are grown in far away places, like China. Why not support your own local economy? Find a farm market nearby and help keep food production local. Or better yet - grow you own.

Happy Tuesday everyone! What were your best canning wins this summer?