Food Storage means different things to different people. To some people it means buying an extra supply of canned goods or food stored in 5 gallon buckets for an emergency. To others, it means "putting up" the summers extra supply of vegetables by freezing or canning. Here at the yardstead, we do a little of both. Now that food prices seem to be going up every week it has been less expensive for us to buy certain items in bulk and keep them stored in food safe buckets or storage containers until we use them. We purchase items such as rice, sugar, flour and salt in larger quantities and keep them dry and well stored to save money. Also we can, pickle and freeze quite a bit of our extra summer supply of vegetables. This also requires use of a little more salt, sugar and vinegar than most people buy for daily use.
There are many ways to store food. Over the last few years, with help from others and several very good books, I have learned to can and freeze quite a few vegetables. The most popular vegetables......
put up at the yardstead are: squash, butter beans, peas, cucumbers, onions and green beans. We also grow some vegetables such as potatos, winter melon, and pumpkins that do not require a lot of extra work to put up. Just a cool dry place to keep them for a few months after harvest. Storage tubs that are lined with a little hay or straw to keep the vegetables seperate are great for this and you can slide them under a bed or into a closet. Keep in mind to check them often and use them as you need them. We do not let anything go bad in storage as we do not want to create an environment that attracts bugs or mice. So far we have had no problems with any critters.
One of my favorite things to freeze each year is squash or zuchinni. It is one of the most prolific vegetables in our garden. Eight or Nine plants in a 25-30 foot row produce more zuchinni and squash than we could stand to eat each week, for most of the summer. We give a lot to friends and family and we also put up a lot in quart freezer bags. It is a very simple process. I take the zuchinni or squash and wash them good with cool water. I cut off both ends and use a grater that has a slicer on the side to slice them into a large cast iron pan. Then I cook them on low on my stove top, stirring often, until the squash is translucent and soft. Often I just turn off the stove and let the squash cool in the pan. If I want to make several batches, I spread the squash in a large baking dish or pan to cool and start another batch. When the squash is cool, I label quart size freezer bags and spoon enough into each bag to fill (do not over fill). Then I squeeze out the air, seal the bag, and put in the refrigerator for an hour. After the bags are chilled, I transfer them to the freezer and they stay there until we use them 4-6 months later. We rarely have any squash left in the freezer the following spring when next years plants are ready.
To eat the squash, I usually cook a whole onion sliced in a bit of oil in a cast iron frying pan. When the onions are cooked soft, I add the frozen quart bag of squash and cook until very hot. I add seasoning to taste and we eat "stewed" squash with pork chops or any other meal during the winter. It is very easy and a great way to prepare the frozen squash. The above process applies to all squash and zuchinni that we freeze.
I have many recipes for the pickles, canned fruit and jams, and frozen vegetables that we put up here at the yardstead every year. If you are interested, please post a request in the forum and I will pass the recipes on and or list of books that I use.