Come Taste the Summer

canned veg (640x603)

You can taste a little of the summer
My grandma’s put it all in jars

― Greg Brown

When the cold winds of December and January penetrate through to our very bones, and the snow is piled up all around us, we often find ourselves wishing for the warmth and “easy weather” of spring and summer. And we gardeners especially miss all of those fresh summer vegetables that we work so hard to grow each year. Nothing can beat the flavor of a fresh picked tomato or the sweetness of corn on the cob, and the fruits and vegetables we buy at the grocery store are a poor substitute.

We can’t extend spring and summer weather on the planet, but we can extend spring and summer for our taste buds. How? By taking steps to preserve our summer fruits and veggies for consumption through the winter. I’m talking canning, freezing, drying, and cold storage.

Decades ago, before there was a supermarket or Wal-Mart on every corner, food preservation was a necessity. The food that people grew (or hunted) in the warmer months had to last them through the winter. Therefore, it was essential that they took steps to store that food in such a way that it would not spoil so that they would have enough to eat from November through April.

Nowadays, food preservation is no longer essential to surviving the winter. But what better way to ease those winter blues than by dining on delicious summer fruits and vegetables. I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I bite into one of my homemade pickles or dine on a pasta dish liberally slathered with my homemade pasta sauce, it’s summer again for those few minutes. The winter winds seem less harsh, and the mounds of snow seem less depressing.

So if you still have summer vegetables left over, now is the time to act. Now is the time to begin canning, freezing, or drying the leftovers, or storing them in a root cellar, window well, or other basement enclosure. Now is the time to start making pickles, chutney, jam, jelly, etc. If you don’t know how to do any of this, there are a multitude of books out there that can teach you how. Or you could take one of my classes (hint, hint!). But however you do it, start soon, because warm weather won’t last forever and those fresh summer fruits and vegetables won’t stay fresh for long. Summer cannot be extended, but it can be preserved. And come come the frosty blasts of winter, your soul (and your taste buds) will thank you.

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