Sunday, July 5, 2009

#39 Preserve Your Own Food

I like to preserve our own food. This helps tremendously on the pocketbook, especially if you grow your own food as well. But even if you can't grow your own food, if you purchase it locally you will still be benefiting from eating locally.

We recently made strawberry freezer jam, and where as I don't have strawberries to use, we went to a local farm and picked strawberries (we did this en route from an OB appt as to now double up on transportation costs, time & impact.) It did cost the same as strawberries in the store, but the resulting strawberry & it's jam is much sweeter naturally than strawberries you would purchase in the grocery store. And since I was making the jam I knew exactly what went into each jar and how much of everything. I was able to use a low-sugar recipe which will help on the waistlines and I know the only things in my jam are strawberries, sugar, & pectin.

Plus, when you preserve your own food you reuse your canning jars year after year. The only new thing you need to purchase is lids in order to ensure that the seal will work properly and wasn't damaged after use, but you can certainly attempt to reuse the lids as well, because they may seal again. If they don't you'll have to go through the process again of sealing that jar or just decide to use that jar first & put it in the fridge.

I do both canning & freezing. You don't need to buy expensive freezer plastic containers. Jars can be used in the freezer as long as you leave enough headroom for the freezing of liquids to expand. Or reuse plastic containers that you got other things in during the year (lunch meats, whipped topping, sour cream, etc.) or use freezer bags (which is you remember a previous post you can rinse & reuse.)

Another benefit of preserving your own food is knowing exactly how & where the food was grown. If you want to eat foods without pesticides or chemical fertilizers used, then it's important to know just where that food came from and if you grow your own food you can control if chemicals were used.

If you shop organically, even part of the time, you know that the costs associated with choosing to eat this way are higher than conventional food which is made in higher quantities at a cheaper price tag (but at what price tag to our health & the environment.) And by growing your own organic food & preserving it, you can keep some green in your wallet.

Another benefit of preserving your own food is that you are eliminating the need to make trips to the grocery store to buy these items and you are also eliminating the demand to have these items produced and shipped.

Which reminds me, I think I should get out into the garden and pick some rhubarb before it gets too old. Rhubarb will freeze and can be used in baked good as when it thaws it gets soft, so it isn't as good for some things as well as others. And since rhubarb is only really available during late spring, early summer, it's best to freeze a little if you would like to enjoy it at other times of the year.

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