Reasons We Can (or Freeze, Dry, Ferment) -- or Don't

 Kentucky veggies for sale at W+M Market, Lexington

Kentucky veggies for sale at W+M Market, Lexington

Really, it's time for all of us to be canning and freezing, drying and fermenting, or putting food by however we can, whether in little bits every day, as Champion Food Preserve Sharon Astyk advocates, or in big communal canning days in shared kitchens, as Seedeaf is fostering in Lexington, Kentucky.

 Apple peeler for making dried apples

Apple peeler for making dried apples

Please do as I say, not as I do. I spent a lot of growing up time canning and freezing, and didn't love it. Even though reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle inspired me, it did not quite get me back to full-fledged investment in preserving summer bounty for winter need. Once my early days as a food preservationist ended, I have benefited from exceptional good luck in the form of family members who still can and freeze -- and then share.

You, dear reader, can go right ahead and can, and freeze, and in every way be a much better person than I am. I recently spent several happy hours reading about other people who value canning and freezing and preserving so much that they promote it avidly through beautiful websites, classes, books, and online instruction. I was happy because I was reading and poking around in other people's recipes and lives -- and I was NOT in the kitchen with a pressure cooker waiting and a sink full of dirty jars to wash and sterilize. You, being a better person than I, may find you can be happy while in the actual act of preserving food, particularly if you start with this fine Los Angeles Times story about a handful of the excellent blogs on food preservation. Although most focus on preserving sweet jams and jellies, Saving the Season is about preserving a wide spectrum of ripe foods.

Before continuing, let's just stop one moment and be amazed: The Los Angeles Times is championing canning, elevating it to cool and au courant. I find that remarkable.

 Preparing Blue Moon (Kentucky) organic garlic for winter preservation

Preparing Blue Moon (Kentucky) organic garlic for winter preservation

I do find I am willing to do some unconventional or easy food storage. Blanching/peeling/storing Blue Moon garlic cloves in olive oil for long winter use, for example -- I did that last year, and the resulting cloves lasted through early March, almost long enough to wrap us in Blue Moon garlic -- or our own few homegrown plants -- until green garlic time.

 Dried Kentucky chili peppers

Dried Kentucky chili peppers

Drying is my favorite food preservation practice. How sad that drying does not work for things like corn on the cob or asparagus. But it works beautifully for apples, tomatoes, certain hot peppers, and quite a few other vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

 Jams, jellies, sorghum at Zimmerman's, Kentucky

Jams, jellies, sorghum at Zimmerman's, Kentucky

The other way to make summer appear in winter is to buy excellent jams, jellies, preserves, and canned goods from people who know what they are doing. This shelf at The Little Cheese Shop in south central Kentucky suggests the variety of local products available to us.

 Preserves from around the world at W+M Market, Lexington, Kentucky

Preserves from around the world at W+M Market, Lexington, Kentucky

The world's bounty also come to us in Lexington. Wine+Market sells these Armenian preserves.

 Sunflower Sundries Blackberry Jam, Kentucky

Sunflower Sundries Blackberry Jam, Kentucky

Sunflower Sundries in Mt. Olivet produces exquisite jams, often from wild fruits.

 Mrs. Toad's jams and jellies, Winchester, Kentucky

Mrs. Toad's jams and jellies, Winchester, Kentucky

Mrs. Toad's jellies and preserves, made in Winchester, Kentucky and distinguished by their fabric "bonnets," have a devoted following in central Kentucky, as they should have.

Thank goodness industrious small companies and artisanal producers intend to give us options in winter that extend beyond the ascetic (eating root crops only) or the ridiculous (eating Chilean strawberries from Chile in midwinter). Let's keep finding and patronizing the small Kentucky companies dedicated to helping us feed ourselves delicious local food all year long.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is number 57.