With the opening of the farmer’s market this week, I finally feel like winter is over.
So, how did we do? I think we faired much better this winter than last. I’m happy to say that we just used the last of our storage onions, still have some potatoes left over, and though I haven’t seen them in awhile, there may still be a few green vegetables in the bottom of the freezer. Oh, how far we’ve come. I’ve been repeatedly told that it’s not true, but last winter, I feel like all we did was eat squash. This year, we were able to make it through the winter with variety. And so, while it’s still fresh in my mind, I’ll lay out a few things that I learned when I look back on this, our second winter, of eating locally. It’s never too early to plan for next year.
How to survive the winter and eat more than squash:
- Start preserving right away. Each time you go to the market, put a little aside for the winter. Did you get an especially abundant CSA box? Think carefully at the beginning of the week and put away anything that you won’t use. (Don’t wait until the end of the week, when that arugula is wilting.) This website tells you how to best preserve food, no matter which method you prefer.
- Learn new skills. Don’t discount a little food project, just because you’ve never done it. Put canning, dehydrating, and pickling on your list of things to learn. This book is one of our favorites.
- Swap. Do you have too many beans? Maybe someone else has too many apples. It’s in our natures to keep all that applesauce to ourselves, but really, sharing leads to variety.
- Constant vigilance. Be on the lookout for food. Read local websites that connect you with farmers. If people know that you’re looking, some delicious things might just come your way. For our area, I recommend, the KCAA site and Sound Food.
- Take field trips. Some markets go year-round. With planning, you can make trips and stock up. Check out the Seattle markets and our favorite, Ballard’s Sunday market.
- Start a root cellar. It doesn’t have to be underground or even a real cellar – ours is just a corner of the garage with a fancy thermometer. Learn what stores well in your temperature and humidity – and unless you want a bag of rotten carrots (er… that never happened to us… no, of course not) learn how to prepare your vegetables for storage.
- Store food in food. Many things store well in prepared foods, which you can freeze after making. Put the spinach in a calzone. Make a tomato sauce from summer’s best. Put corn in your chicken potpie (though it freezes nicely by itself). Not only is this a great way to add variety to your meals, but it saves you time on a busy night.
Many thanks to the farmers who were at the market Saturday morning with grins and delicious variety.