Food preservation season has begun

P1000064Daikon radish pickles: RECIPE NOW IN COMMENTS

Yes, it is that time of year again:  big pots of boiling water on the stove, zero counterspace available due to all the green and fruity produce coming in the door.

Interestingly, however, the preservation being done today (Saturday) is not being done for this family.  No:  the school garden is just as busy as our home gardens, and many of those lovely Asian vegetables planted in April are ripe and ready.  Likewise, it’s strawberry and rhubarb season around here, and we are on the cusp of the sweet cherry season.

The one thing I have discovered (and you will all probably laugh at this) is that WOW having lots of hands doing the work makes any task go so much more quickly.  I say this admitting that for today I am elbow-deep in making the second batch of kimchi and the first batch of radish pickles all by myself, but it is quite amazing how much fun, and how productive, those Thursday Weed and Feed evenings in the garden truly are.  So much gets done!  Makes me think I should have a team of my own here on the farm…

Other than working in the garden, another volunteer opportunity for the school community is what we’re calling “fruit tithing.”  One of the fun things to do with your kids in the summer is go to one of the myriad pick-your-own fruit places in the area: there are many, verging on hundreds, of these farms.  We are asking parents to set aside some portion of that fruit for the school.  We are having organized picking sessions with the school community too, but if folks want to go ahead and pick on their own, we’re giving them instructions on how to process and freeze these fruits to give back to the school.  It is all part of our Slow Snack initiative wherein we source local, organic, nonprocessed foods for the school-wide snack.

But what to do with all that fruit, of course, is yet another volunteer opportunity, and through the summer we are having canning parties at a local cafe/shop owned by a parent at our school.  So every two weeks, we will be jamming, jellying, pickling and sauce- and salsa-ing the contents of both our garden and these fruit-y gifts from the parents.

All of this is so exciting, I must say.  What started as a simple “let’s make the school snack a little bit more nutritious” a couple of years back has now blossomed into a greater notion that Food Does Matter, especially the food consumed by our youngsters.  Having them participate in the complete foodway that is seed-to-table eating is a knowledge base that we hope will serve them their entire life.  Will it discourage them from grabbing a Twinkie and picking up a spotty heirloom organic apple instead?  Well we shall just see.  We do know, though, that all habits (good AND bad) start early.

15 responses to “Food preservation season has begun

  1. Are you going to post some recipes? 🙂

  2. Me too! I would especially like your recipe for kim chee.

  3. I believe that setting a good food example definitely translates to healthy adult choices for children. I had one child who rebelled with Fruit Loops as a teenager, but now she grows her own organic food. Even my conservative republican child, who wouldn’t garden if money grew on trees, makes healthy choices.

  4. p.s. How lucky was I with the F.L. rebellion? Life is good.

  5. Same here. Temps hit the 80s and 90s and it’s time to start jammin’!! 🙂

  6. I picked my first cucumbers for pickling this morning. But this makes me think I should be planting daikon radishes. I neglected to plant our black radishes early this year. They were great for kimchi and they grow improbably large–the size of a baseball or bigger.

  7. This is so completely awesome I’m at a total loss for words! Except, perhaps, “Yes. We Can!”

  8. I love jamming in a crowd. It’s a lot of fun, and I have a local fruit sharing “thing” going (albeit slowly right now).

    But many hands do, indeed, make light work!

  9. The school and community initiatives are really inspiring. Congratulations! Does the school project have a website? Too bad that you are across the state from my sister and nephew – this is the kind of thing that I KNOW they’d love and would be great for them. Don’t I just sound like the bossy eldest sister that I am? Ha!

    It’s citrus season down here, so it’s time for marmalade, syrups, preserved lemons etc. Much less irritating to preserve in the winter because all that heat/steam is a good thing.

  10. Recipes? I am just venturing into fruit preservation…. Most of the recipes I’ve seen have a lot of sugar in them, something I am not wild about. Do you know of alternative recipes?
    But I really like the idea of group jam-making, it will surely make the work go faster, make it more enjoyable, and build up community and tradition – two things that I think are just as important as the food itself. And fruit tithing – that makes me smile!

  11. Jedidja and Aimee: I’ll post the radish pickle recipe; the kimchi was pretty much “make it with what I had,” which in this case was napa cabbage, turnips, radishes, green onions, garlic, and hot peppers. It’s lacto-fermented as I used some whey to kick it off; it sits in a crock on the kitchen floor for a week until I put it in boiled jars then into the refrigerator.

    Pamela, I agree. However when she goes to other peoples’ houses all bets are off! Ah well. Here, I give her no choice but to eat well. But yes, you did good work with those two, even the boy.

    Angie, yep! Maybe that’ll shake you out of your doldrums. I hope they finish that road soon, as it sucks to be trapped in your own house.

    ED! Pickling cucumbers already? Gosh. We are so far behind you due to this really cold, wet spring; my cuke plants are barely 6″ tall. But I did eat a mess of favas over the weekend… Maybe you can plant the radishes in August and eat them for Thanksgiving.

    Hi Emily! Thanks. It just makes sense, plus, canning is fun, well, sort of…

    Stef, yeah, sharing the work and sharing the fun! It is rather shocking though to someone who hates to ask for help how quickly the tasks get finished!

    Hi Nada. Well, we have a blog but I am the only one who seems to keep it updated which means it doesn’t get updated terribly often, I am spread pretty thin lately as you can imagine. Your sis lives in AA, right? There is so much good stuff happening in and around that town…plus, they’ve such a great food thing happening around there too. But I still do envy you your citrus! Wow that would be just amazing…I used a lot of lemons in my elderflower binge recently and I just forget how much I love them.

    Hi MC. Well, smaller-batch jams can get by with less sugar if you really cook the fruit well enough: you will need to do it in a very wide pan (like a deep stainless steel skillet) to help boil off most of the water in the fruit itself. Smaller batch jams (where you’re making only 2 pints or so) can be made with a ratio of up to 3 parts fruit to 1 part sugar. Just google “small batch strawberry jam” for recipes. Me, well, I am never into “small” when I am in the jamming mode so I simply buck up and use all that sugar, and all that pectin. Pomona’s Universal Pectin, if you can find it, is also great: you don’t need to use any sugar if you don’t want to. Our sugar is Michigan-grown sugar beet sugar so I don’t feel so bad in using it.

  12. Marinated Daikon Radish from Stocking Up by Carol Hupping

    2 daikon radishes, about 1.5 pounds
    2 medium-sized carrots
    2 3/4 c rice vinegar
    1 cup water
    2 T honey
    2 t finely-chopped ginger root
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    4 small dried hot chili peppers, 2-3″ long
    2 T soy sauce

    Scrub radishes and carrots and cut crosswise into lengths that fit inside pint jars. Quarter each section lengthwise, then slice (again lengthwise) into thin slivers. Combine vinegar, water, honey, ginger, garlic, peppers, and soy sauce into an enameled or stainless steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, pack radishes and carrots loosely into 4 hot, scalded pint jars. Pour hot vinegar mixture into jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Seal and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

  13. Grrr, you said rhubarb again!

  14. Looks great! I was thinking about Kimchi the other day. Bought the Daikon few days back and didnt get the napa. By the time I remembered Mrs. Weekendfarmer cooked the daikon into curry with small dried fish. Thats was yummy : ). So there goes my Kimchi.

    Talking about kimchi, I just found out …it has fish sauce and paste in it. Now I know where the smell comes from. I lived with a Korean room-mate in grad school…and I remember the morning when he opened his package that his mom sent from Seoul. Oh boy! I got older…I am amazed, I crave from that taste and smell. Life is funny. Did you know, given the modern days…now Koreans can buy a special refrigerator for Kimchi that will replicate the temperature that older generations would have fermented the kimchi at (earthern pots half burried in the ground…same as hochu-jang, the korean chili paste).

    Happy summer!

  15. Jules: two pounds’ worth now chopped and frozen!

    WF, I have only had “real” kimchi once, at a Korean restaurant in Philly. Everything else has been homemade! I wouldn’t say mine is terribly authentic. But what you said about coming around to liking the smell/taste is what my own mother told me about blue cheese: I would truly be an adult when I started to like it. Now, our daughter has liked it since she was about 2 so…. But yeah, a lot of these traditional vessels/containers/traditions really REALLY intrigue me and make me want to make my own or imitate the “originals.”

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