Update and Friday Food Storage Quickie

Sharon May 15th, 2009

I’ve finally got internet service back – apologies to anyone who tried to reach me in the last few days and failed.  I’m back now. 

In good new _A Nation of Farmers_ is officially out.  We got a kick-ass review from Library Journal, recommended by Mother Earth News, and a lot of good early publicity.  This is exciting stuff!  If you’d like a copy, you can order it through Aaron here.  Or get it at your local bookstore.  Or for that matter, your local library!

Also, I do still have a couple of spots left in my food storage class.  The class begins this coming Tuesday and runs for six weeks.  The class is run entirely online, and is asynchronous (ie, you don’t have to be online at any particular time),  Here’s the syllabus and class information. The goal is to help people build up a reserve of food, and also to get people ready for harvest season this year.   Cost of the class is $150. 

I don’t take a lot of speaking engagements in May and June – too much to do on the farm.  But I did want to let people know that come July, I’ll be speaking at the Pax Christi conference in Chicago - Pax Christi is the national Catholic Peace organization, and I’m tremendously honored that they asked me.  I believe that the mobilization of existing religious groups will be absolutely necessary to facing the future, and I hope I’ll meet some of you there.

Ok, on to the Friday Food Storage Quickie.  As you know, the idea is to break down the project of storing food and do a little at a time.  This week, we’re going to concentrate on a couple of things.  Recently, we’ve added popcorn, peanut butter, rice and beans/tofu to our food storage, and dealt with lighting and fire safety. 

Now that diet is a little limited, isn’t it.  So let’s add some fruit and vegetables – no point is making sure you have food, only to suffer fatal constipation ;-) .  So this week, we’re going to add dried fruit and a canned vegetable to our list in as large a quantity as you can afford/manage.

Why dried fruit?  Well, dried fruit will save you from aforementioned death by irregularity ;-) , but it will also make you a lot happier – it is sweet, most people like at least some kind of fruit, it gives you treats to offer children, and it is nutritionally dense. 

The cheapest options are raisins, and they aren’t bad.  Prunes are better (don’t be prejudiced against them), and almost as inexpensive.  Dried apricots, mango, cranberries, blueberries, etc… are much pricier but IMHO, tastier.  Get what your family likes, and what you can afford – or dry what you’ve got in abundance at your place.  Don’t get anything with tons of added sugar – you want nutrients, not a sugar high here. Cranberries and blueberries have the most nutritional value of all your options, generally.  You can use the dried fruit in breads and muffins, throw it into oatmeal and rice pudding, or just eat it plain.

On to vegetables.  This is a little harder, since most of us may not eat a lot of canned vegetables.  We’ve been told that they aren’t as nutrious as fresh ones, and if you are eating fresh from your garden, this is undoubtably true.  If you are eating conventional supermarket produce, picked underripe a week ago, waxed, sprayed, and shipped for five days, before sitting the supermarket for several more, that may not be true, actually. 

While sprouts are a good source of fresh veggies and should also be part of your storage (more about this next time), few people actually eat sprouts in huge quantities.  So you will want to add some preserved vegetables to your list – you can can your own, or buy supermarket ones, or dehydrate greens. Right now, there’s tons of nettle, dandelion and other greens out there to be preserved. But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume you are going to buy supermarket veggies for whatever reason.

My recommendations are two things.  First, canned mustard or turnip greens.  These are fairly innocuous, and the liquid they are canned in is extremely nutritious – it will have most of the vitamins. Thus, you can add it to soup stock, or even mix it in small quantities into juice or tang or whatever.  The greens are finely chopped and inoffensive (unfortunately, that’s the best you can say for them, but this puts them well ahead of most canned vegetables), and can easily be mixed into rice and beans or other dishes. 

Second, I’d recommend canned pumpkin or sweet potatoes.  This is highly nutritious, delicious and dense – you can add it to rice or other grains and with an egg make fritters, you can add it to breads to add moisture and sweetness, make desserts with it, including delicious pancakes and puddings.  High in vitamin A, this, combined with the greens, will make sure your diet is reasonably nutrious.  Again, you’ll get  better flavor and nutrition if you grow your own and preserve them by root cellaring or home canning or dehydrating, but the supermarket options are pretty tolerable if you are just getting started.

As for our non-food item, this week you are going to pick up multi-vitamins.  You can endure all sorts of diets if you have a basic multivitamin to cover you from major deficiencies.  Don’t just get them for the kids – get them for adults too.  If you are pregnant or nursing, pick up an extra package of prenatals.  If you have children, get an age appropriate vitamin.  If you rely on other vitamins, now is a good time to pick up and extra package if you can afford it as well.

 Cheers,

 Sharon

6 Responses to “Update and Friday Food Storage Quickie”

  1. I’m very much looking forward to reading the new book. My local library has it on order at my request.

    I’m glad to hear how useful the pumpkin can be in dried form. I grew quite a bit of pumpkin last year and ended up dehydrating a few, because we just weren’t getting through them fast enough. Even though it’s not our favorite vegetable, I’m growing them again this year, and two other winter squash as well. Guess I’ll be using the dehydrator again. I made a pretty good pasta dish with the rehydrated pumpkin and sage. I’ll think about pureeing some and canning it this year. I can see the advantages that form would have for pancakes and such.

  2. Jean says:

    Those canned greens are delicious in egg dishes like quiche.

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m doing pretty well on this one…just need to pick up some more fruit. I actually like prunes, especially covered in dark chocolate :-) There are local sources of dried blueberries and cranberries here, but they’re Really Expensive. Maybe this weekend I’ll also roast and puree or dry the last two squashes before they develop their own civilization and attempt to take over.

  4. Eleanor says:

    We generally don’t eat a lot of canned vegies, but we recently discovered the organic canned vegies (e.g., 365 brand from Whole Foods) are not that bad. Some things, like canned beets, corn and green beans, are pretty good, in fact. So you might want to check those out.

  5. mockum says:

    I picked up a whole bunch of canned pumpkins on sale after thanksgiving last year. That’s a good time to stock up.

  6. NM says:

    Kate, please don’t can pureed pumpkin or winter squash; that is not safe. The puree freezes well, however. There may be safe recommendations for canning it in chunks, too, which you could then smash up before using.

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