Saturday, August 31, 2013
Aspirations of Food Preservation
Getting unexpected free bread is pretty much the most wonderful feeling. Especially when it's from a local bakery that grinds their own grains fresh and uses honey to sweeten it. I guess it's a good idea to stop by right before they close up for a holiday weekend. I paid for one basic whole wheat loaf, at $4.95, and received two specialty loaves free. Cha-ching!
There is something just splendid about free food that can be put up for later use. This morning our pastor's wife gave me green peppers and beans from her garden. The beans we'll eat this weekend, and the peppers will get sliced and frozen. And those gorgeous bread loaves? Yeah, two have already made their way to the freezer.
Joining our CSA, I had envisioned literally swimming in produce all summer long and having such copious abundance that I would have to can/preserve/freeze much of it. In reality, our weekly ½ share received every Friday is mostly gone by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Not to sound like an early American colonist having yet to learn the gift of maize from the natives, but winter is coming, and what will we eat!?
Our food budget is about $200 per month to feed two people. That’s actually less than the SNAP maximum monthly food allowance of $367. I guess if I lost my job and we were down below the poverty line (Dave would have to take a pay cut too for that to happen) we would actually have $167 MORE per month to spend on food if we were on food stamps. Go figure.
A $200/month food budget is pretty difficult to stick to lately, even with the bonus veggies we get every Friday, already paid for (that money doesn’t get calculated in the current budget.) Granted, we are stocking up on healthy staple items right now, like pasture butter, coconut oil, grass fed beef, organic chicken, natural nut butters, etc., but even so, without eating any processed foods, our menu for the week is almost entirely made up of fresh produce. When winter sets in and we no longer have the bounty of the CSA and farmers market, I presume we will turn to frozen vegetables instead.
How utterly macabre.
I’m still inching closer and closer to my goal of canning in the near future. If we get in with the right farmer or hobby vegetable gardener, maybe they’ll take pity on us poor city folk and give us a bushel of tomatoes. I’ve found that it’s pretty tough to come up with a large quantity of tomatoes (enough to make canning worth the effort) from one little cherry tomato plant growing outside our apartment window and the pound of larger tomatoes we get every week from the CSA.
The lingering awareness of the BPA leached into conventional canned tomatoes from the store is too much for me; can't do it. But the cheapwad in me won' let me spend $5 on one 12 oz glass jar of crushed tomatoes. Give. Me. A. Break. So I guess I'll make a start of canning with what I have.
And oh yeah, I've never done it before. So this will be an adventure. If I succeed and it's a task I find worth the effort/time, I suppose I'll buy one of those huge, 25-lb. boxes of tomatoes at the farmer's market for around $1/lb. and have myself a crazy tomato processing party... probably by myself.
HOLD THAT THOUGHT
I just found an alternative method to canning tomatoes - great for smaller batches. I'm going to do this tonight and save the whole hug canning event for that large box I'll pick up next weekend.
Ah, thank you Google, for finding me a lazy solution to my food preserving urges.
(instructions here: southernplate.com)