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preserving food - eating locally, etc

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Some of the threads in the past have touched on how "eating locally" is the best way to go. In addition, the sausage thread got me to think more about preserving food, but in a foodie kind of way.

Unfortunately, eating locally means starving or preserving food for the winter in northern climates. Personally, I know how to make sauerkraut, pickles, and jam. That is it (none of those are difficult either). I'm not real keen on eating a diet of that for several months each year. There have to be some other things to make. . .

I'm interested in hearing how the "eat local" crowd preserves enough food to last their family all winter. What recipes do you have and how do you figure out how much to preserve for the winter?
post #2 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milhouse View Post
Some of the threads in the past have touched on how "eating locally" is the best way to go. In addition, the sausage thread got me to think more about preserving food, but in a foodie kind of way. Unfortunately, eating locally means starving or preserving food for the winter in northern climates. Personally, I know how to make sauerkraut, pickles, and jam. That is it (none of those are difficult either). I'm not real keen on eating a diet of that for several months each year. There have to be some other things to make. . . I'm interested in hearing how the "eat local" crowd preserves enough food to last their family all winter. What recipes do you have and how do you figure out how much to preserve for the winter?
There are lots of great things that either come into season late in the year or can be kept without processing into jam etc. Root vegetables, cabbages (mmm brussels sprouts), squashes, apples and pears... Edit: forgot to mention some of the dark leafy greens. Kale supposedly improves after the first frost.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
No one preserves food at all, not even for gourmet reasons?

I've been asking my parents. . . apparently they have a very old sauerkraut crock that my great grandparents brought with them when they came to the US. Seems kind of wasteful to not use it.
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Milhouse View Post
No one preserves food at all, not even for gourmet reasons?

I've been asking my parents. . . apparently they have a very old sauerkraut crock that my great grandparents brought with them when they came to the US. Seems kind of wasteful to not use it.

Confit is a great way to preserve meat. Pickling, of course, is a good way to preserve many kids of veggies. You can salt, smoke, "cure" meats too. Cheese making, which I'm not about to do, is a great way to preserve milk. Canning is a doable method for many things.

I plan to try confit soon, although not for preservation reasons. I'm also going to try a few other things.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
I've thought about dabbling in cheese making. I've done the quick cheese recipes before (results kind of like ricotta). Basically a pot of warm milk mixed with a touch of lemon juice creates the curds. Then drain it. Season it with salt to taste.

I haven't been able to find any rennet near me though, so I've been kind of hesitant to take the next step and make proper cheese.
post #6 of 19
I really want to get into canning, but I haven't. good luck
post #7 of 19
Millhouse, my pops and I did some cheesemaking before I left home. Started off with the same soft cheeses, but he's gotten into hard, aged cheeses since I'vemoved away. He gets his rennet online, I can ask him for the source if you're really interested.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilkinson View Post
Millhouse, my pops and I did some cheesemaking before I left home. Started off with the same soft cheeses, but he's gotten into hard, aged cheeses since I'vemoved away. He gets his rennet online, I can ask him for the source if you're really interested.

Yeah, maybe this will be what prompts me to actually try it out. How is the cheese turning out? Good results?
post #9 of 19
Has some potential, but not quite there yet. It's like brewing your own beer. You want to taste it the day it gets bottled, but you have to let it rest for several weeks for it to be best.
I'll email him and ask him. Should have an answer by tomorrow.
post #10 of 19
My mother does it in France, but I think the other women from the village help her. I've never eaten any of her preserved things, though. Over the years, we have preserved a lot of lemons, for taste reasons, though, and made a lot of confit, but that never lasts too long. I've not done jams or anything, but someday.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Good point about the temptation to eat it before it is ready. A few friends of mine brew beer, and they all tell me that they usually make about twice as much as they think they should, to account for all of the "testing" at various points.

Are you using anything special to press the cheese, or just stuff you found around the kitchen? I can use a cast iron pan or something as a weight, and I was thinking of just getting a ring mold or maybe even a cake pan of some sort to use as a form for the cheese.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 
Jams are pretty easy, they are just fruit and sugar. The canning process is what is tedious. . . lots of boiling water, sterilize the jars, pack the jars, lid the jars, process the jars, etc. I had to help do a lot of that as a child.

I have horrible memories of making pickled beets. The smell of vinegar and beet was brutal. I can just barely tolerate beets these days.

Another thing I've thought about is preserving herbs by making a liqueur or bitters.
post #13 of 19
You can preserve the herbs by making infused oils and vinegars as well. Don't forget the good old fashioned combo of foodsaver/refrigerator or the trusty dehydrator. Also, once you're canning, you can can stews, stocks, and soups. Funny... Kwilky made the analogy of Cheesemaking to home-brewing. I never lasted as a home brewer because as much as i love to cook, and enjoy food... the economist in me always took over. I cannot make beer better, or for less money than craft breweries. I enjoy the process, but not as much as I enjoy other activities... so I will let the specialists handle those activities and I will spend my time earning money to trade for their good beer or cheese
post #14 of 19
This is the rennet my pops uses. http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/...net-2-oz-.html

He says for the casual cheesemaker, it's practically a lifetime supply.

Also a good book I picked up a while back that is in communion with this thread is Wild Fermentation.

It goes through so much info on preserving/fermented food. Vegetable ferments (kimchi, etc), bean ferments (soy sauce), Dairy and vegan ferments, bread and pancakes, fermented grain porridges and beverages, wines (including mead cider and ginger beer), beers, and vinegars. It is an awesome book.
post #15 of 19
Brian Polcyn's book Charceuterie is also a great resource for preserving meats. Co-written by Michael Rhulmann... and Brian's a great chef and a super nice guy.
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