It’s mid-February (the equivalent of August in the northern hemisphere) and that means it’s harvest time! Oh yeah! Lots of delicious goodies are coming out of the FruitMonster Garden! And in my epic journey towards supplying an ever greater portion of my diet from my own backyard (well actually, front yard, and side yard too… it’s outta control), I have inevitably come upon the issue of what to do during winter.
Planning for Winter
Now, there are certain things that you can grow over the winter. What exactly those are varies by climate zone of course (“what winter?” say the Queensland blokes). Here in Canberra, we do dip below freezing several times a year, which really limits what you can grow. This winter, I plan to grow broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, peas, beans, kale and hopefully some carrots too.
But that’s hardly a tasty diet for the winter period. And I’d get awfully meager portions if I relied on that alone. So that’s where food storage comes in handy! Now there are several options for this. You can use ‘canning‘, which is really using glass jars or dehydrating, which is fairly self explanatory. Or you can use freezing.
Purchasing canning supplies is actually pretty expensive! And dehydrating is limited in what it can accomplish (not many foods dehydrate and rehydrate well). So I elected to start with freezing. I was able to snag up a ~200L freezer for $160, which will only cost me ~$50/yr to run. And someday when I have my dream abode, complete with solar panels, it won’t cost me anything
The first step in freezing all the food you pull out of your garden, is to set up a blanching assembly line (see the video above). You’ll need:
- a big pot of boiling water (or a steamer)
- a blanching basket or good food removal tool (to get stuff out of the hot water)
- bowls full of ice water for cooling the foods
- a colander for draining the ice water bowls
- storage containers/plastic freezer bags
This is the bare bones minimum list of supplies!
The FruitMonster loves raw foods and this website promotes them because they are full of amazing enzymes. These enzymes help us digest our food and contribute to our general wellness in fantastic ways! But those same enzymes will actually break down the food we want to store into a mushy nasty goop in the freezer! So we have to blanch our food to kill some of these enzymes. Once we do that, they can be stored for 6-12 months in the freezer!
Sidenote: I know what a lot of raw-foodies may be thinking, I’ve sold-out to the evil world of cooked foods! Aaaaagh! Nonsense! I emphatically believe that raw food is great. But as I’ve pointed out, we’ve got bigger things to worry about than just our own bodies. We need think bigger! Think about our greater community!
How Do I Blanch?
I’m not going to go through the bother of explaining at length how to do it all, because this great website has all the information you need! The National Center for Home Food Preservation was created to keep you safe when preserving food. It is the standard point of reference for the blanching proces!
Each food has a different period of time that it should be blanched, so read carefully.
Set up an assembly line like in the video above. Mine was a bit chaotic, but I never do things perfectly (cause then you never get it done ). Have a chopping station next to the boiling water. Next to the boiling water, place the ice water bowls. Make sure you have extra ice available for when the first batch melts! Then have a storage containers ready to go.
Keep in mind the approximate portion sizes you’ll want when you go to thaw your produce! Smaller containers are often better than big ones since foods get frozen together!
There’s Your Crash Course in Blanching! Try it Yourself! It’s Easy!
Peace, Love and Frozen Fruits