Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Eat Your Vegetables

One of the most important parts of your food storage is vegetables. It doesn’t matter how you preserve them as long as you do. Good nutrition is an essential part of storing food for long term use. Because our growing season here is very short and our winter is very long, we often have to rely on others to produce some of the vegetables that we consume. Since food storage is now so popular, the access to vegetables is greater than it used to be. You can buy dried vegetables from any food storage provider. Here are some of my favorites to store and the methods I store them:

Corn: I have always frozen corn because that is my favorite way to preserve it. However, because I feel the need to diversify, I have also dried it. I love it crunchy just as it is or in any number of dishes. With the easy and accessibility of frozen corn to dry it’s easy to build up your corn storage. I also have some canned corn and canned cream corn that I purchase at the case lot sales in my pantry.

Green Beans: Home canned green beans are an awesome storage item. So are the canned ones you can buy at the store. My favorite are the French cut, cooked with dried minced onion, then drained with sour cream, salt and pepper and a little sprinkling of sugar.

Carrots: One of my favorite vegetables to store is carrots. I’ve bottled them, pickled them, frozen them and dried them. I purchased dried carrot dices and canned carrots. If you have carrots in your garden you wish to store, they keep well for quite awhile tops removed and cleaned in bags in your crisper. You can also remove tops and layer them in boxes with sand and store in a root cellar. Some people leave them in the ground and put bales of straw on them. It’s your choice. I love fresh carrots so I store them as long as I can. I have shredded and dried them and they dry quickly and store well. I love carrots steamed with butter and brown sugar. Carrots are a must in stews, casseroles and soups.

Peas: I love fresh peas and frozen peas. I use them a lot in soups, fried rice, salads and just with butter, salt and pepper or with a cream sauce in served in pastry cups. I have tons of salad recipes that call for frozen peas. I have also dried them and they are great. They dry quickly, store well and rehydrate nicely.

Peppers: I didn’t grow up eating green and red peppers except in pickles and relishes but I certainly use a lot of them now. I always keep diced frozen green peppers in my freezer to throw in with whatever I’m making and I dry lots and lots of them in the fall. They are a great staple to have on hand.

Broccoli: I love, love, love Broccoli Salad. I’ve tried several recipes and they are all good. (The bacon in there certainly doesn’t hurt my feelings any). I love steamed Broccoli, carrots and onions with penne pasta and sweetened spiced tomato sauce. I love cream of broccoli soup. I usually buy frozen broccoli to keep in my freezer always but I’ve also dried a lot of broccoli. It takes up little space and will be great in soups or vegetable dishes

Cauliflower: Cauliflower is another vegetable that dries well. I mostly like the dried cauliflower for Cheese Cauliflower soup and have found that frozen cauliflower doesn’t keep a long time in the freezer. Nothing is better that steamed cauliflower with salt and pepper and butter, unless it’s the cheese sauce you serve on top. Drying cauliflower is a great option for storage.

Squash: I love all types of squash. I especially like the winter varieties that keep for a while in the basement. Sweet Meat is my favorite. Squash can be canned for use either in pies or served like mashed potatoes. Summer squash such as yellow crookneck or zucchini can also be blanched and frozen and everyone knows there are tons of things to make with your zucchini. The dried zucchini is awesome and I’m drying some crookneck squash because I think it would be a great storage item as well.

Beets: I love pickled beets. I’ve tasted a lot of different recipes but the one I got from my sweet mother-in-law is still my favorite. Sometimes we have a bottle of pickled beets in the fridge most of the time during the winter months. They are great anytime. Beets are a healthy vegetable that are great canned, either pickled or not. I loved the canned shoestring beets, cooked with a little brown sugar and cider vinegar and served with butter, salt and pepper.

A friend mentioned the other day that she still had beets in her garden to can and it made me hungry for some pickled beets. I’m also including a recipe for stewed tomatoes. I know tomatoes are a fruit but this recipe has lots of veggies in it and it is great to eat in a bowl with salt and pepper or in any recipe calling for canned tomatoes. They are really good.

Mom Moon’s Pickled Beets
Remove stems from beets and scrub with a brush well. Put just enough water to cover beets and cook whole beets in large pot until tender, not mushy. Peel (the skins just slide right off) and cube or slice and put into prepared bottles. Make a syrup of 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. vinegar and beet juice. Increase amounts to cover beets to within ½” of top of jars. Put warm liquid over beets. Boil lids and put on jars and seal. Cold pack in canner for 10 minutes.

10 c. chopped tomatoes (about 18 medium)
1 ¼ c. chopped celery
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ c. sugar
2 cans (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 T. salt
Scald and peel tomatoes and chop as fine as desired. Put onion, celery and peppers in small pan with a little juice from tomatoes. Boil about 10 minutes and add to tomatoes along with sugar, tomato sauce and salt. Bring to a good boil and boil about 5 minutes. Put into hot bottles and seal. Process pints and quarts in boiling water bath.

Start thinking now about the vegetables you want to store and make a plan on how to store them and where to get them. You'll be glad you did.

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