Farmer’s Markets are in full swing, mama animals are making tons of milk, and the produce in the garden is coming on faster than you can pick it. Welcome to summer! Well, technically, summer doesn’t start till June 20th, but the HEAT is already here in West Tennessee. So what can we do to live seasonally in June? HARVEST and PRESERVE.
1. Pick something
Head out to your own garden, community garden, your neighbor’s garden, or your favorite pick-you-own farm. Everyone needs the experience of taking something from vine to table at least once a year. If you don’t know where your own pick-your-own farms are check out http://www.pickyourown.org .
2. Freeze a few bags.
Even if you don’t plan to do it as a lifestyle, knowing how to freeze produce is a valuable skill. While you’re out picking or shopping at the farmer’s market, grab a bag of produce for freezing. If you have a freezer, a stove, and some freezer bags, you’re over halfway there. The key to most freezing is a process called “blanching.”
- Wash your produce
- Set it in boiling water or steam it just until it gets REALLY BRIGHT
- Plunge it in ice water to stop the cooking.
- Slip off the skins of peppers and tomatoes
- Toss it in a freezer bag and you’re done!
3. Can a few jars.
I used to be afraid of canning, so let’s start small. Let’s do six jars of pickles. We all like them and they’re easy.
- Find your deepest pot, measure out the tallest containers you can boil in there with one inch of water covering the top.
- Buy maybe six jars, a cheap canning tong/magnet set, and a package of Dill Pickle spice (all in the same section).
- Follow the directions on the back of the package or go HERE or HERE.
4. Ferment a crock…or two.
Again, pickles are easy. You don’t need special equipment to do this, but my favorite gadget is the quart-sized Pickle Pro from Homesteaders Supply. I just put in my pickle slices, some salt, and leave them on the counter until they taste like I want. If you wonder how you’ll feel about fermented pickles, head over to the refrigerator section of your grocery store, where they keep the salsa, and get some Bubbies. In fact, eat the whole jar, then chop up your own cukes and dump them back in the same liquid. Bubbies still have the active bacteria in them and are pre-spiced. No work! And as long as they stay submerged, there’s no spoilage. See this post for how to keep them submerged under the liquid.
5. Make a few ounces of cheese.
Go get some milk at the Farmer’s market or pull something from the grocery store shelf and try THIS recipe. It’s fast and easy. If you want to keep everything unpasteurized and “raw,” try this recipe HERE. In fact, you can make all kinds of dairy products easily if you are in the mood. See our whole section of them here.
For all of these recipes and processes in grand detail:
What You Can Ignore
- No growing anything from seed except lettuce, carrot, and beans at this stage of the game.
- No need to worry about bees, it’s too late in the season.
- No need to worry about planting trees until fall.
- No sense ordering baby chicks right now.
- No sense in planting hot crops if your season is too short, talk to your nursery person.