LocalHarvest Newsletter, September 23, 2010

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Late summer and fall find me in the kitchen a few more hours a week than usual, squirreling away food for the winter. Pickles, salsa, tomato sauce, pickled jalapenos, frozen greens, applesauce, dried tomatoes - every year the list gets a little longer and we eat a little better. I am not alone: home canning is making a comeback, thanks to both the recent surge of interest in gardening and the growing number of people looking to eat local food throughout the winter. "It's almost like a three step evolution - first people recognize the benefits of eating local food, then they grow some of their own, and then inevitably they realize that a whole lot of food is ripe at once and you have to do something with it!" says Lori Evesque, who teaches canning classes in Southwest Michigan. Her well attended hands-on workshops are drawing people with a wide range of ages and experience levels, from those who have never laid eyes on a hot water bath canner, to those who used to preserve food years ago but want a refresher course before starting again.

Lori's experience is being repeated all over the country, as practiced food preservationists step forward to teach interested people the necessary skills. Tess Schaffner, owner of Off the Vine Market in Lanexa, VA, the food preservation classes offered by have also been well attended. The owner, says the main hurdle for people is time. "When they hear about our classes, many people's first reaction is, 'I don't have time for that!', but we show them how an investment of time making and freezing marinara sauce in the summer leads to quick, healthy meals in the winter."

As the bags under my eyes this time of year will attest, if you get bit hard by the food preservation bug, the time investment can be significant. Midnight seems to come earlier at the end of tomato season! But Tess is right about the time savings later. Last month I froze a dozen bags of enchilada sauce after experimenting with how to adapt my favorite recipe to use homegrown fresh tomatoes instead of canned sauce. It is delicious, if I do say so myself. Even better, I'm all set up to make some very fine, reasonably easy meals. We freeze a lot of greens too. Once a week through the winter I will pull out a bag of blanched kale from the freezer in the morning, let it thaw until suppertime, and then in about 15 minutes have a beautiful white bean, rosemary, kale dish on the supper table, with enough left over for lunches the next day. Nutritious, quick, and home made - worth a few late nights in the summer.

One recipe I would recommend if you want to try making just one thing this fall is homemade applesauce. It is easy, delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, and almost everyone loves it. You can freeze it in bags, can it in jars, or eat it right away. There are lots of ways to make it, but one recipe is found in a great new book about food preservation, Put 'em Up! Thanks to Storey Publishing, we will have a copy of this new title for six lucky newsletter readers. See below for details, and try something new!

As always, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Does fall's arrival have you wanting to store up some food for winter? Now's a great time to order a big box of grassfed beef to feed your family well for months to come. We've got a great selection from farms all over the country.

Looking for a fun holiday gift to make for your friends? Chaffin Orchards is offering green Barouni olives for the home curer. These are large green olives that ship well and are known to be rather forgiving during the curing process. Chris at Chaffin encourages people to try alternatives to lye, like curing the olives in a brine. Sound fun? Curing recipes included. Give it a try!

Put 'em Up! Cookbook Giveaway

It's time for another LocalHarvest cookbook giveaway! We were especially excited to get a copy of author Sherri Brooks Vinton's Put 'em Up! because it is such a beautiful and accessible introduction to food preservation. Plus, it's a lot of fun. Her conversational style, step by step instructions, and creative recipes all make the book a fun one. Page through Put 'em Up! and you are sure to be inspired to preserve some of the late summer's bounty.

If you'd like to enter our drawing, just add a comment here. Tell us your favorite food to preserve - or if you're a canning newbie, what you'd like to make. Winners will be drawn from all entries on Monday, October 4, at noon PST, and winners will be contacted by email.

Campaign for Urban Farming

All over the world, urban people are learning how to grow some food for themselves. One day, I imagine, edible landscaping will be the norm, and every rooftop, empty lot, public park, and greenway will have a second purpose feeding people. But that is going to take a lot of know-how. We recently learned that Growing Power, the well known urban farming program, is collaborating with a number of regional agriculture groups to develop urban agriculture training centers all over the country. Good news! That will go a long way toward addressing the know-how issue.

This year, Bonterra Vineyards and Growing Power are teaming up on a campaign to raise awareness and funds for urban food production. As part of this campaign, Bonterra will donate $20,000 to Growing Power's training centers around the country. To learn more about the regional organizations involved and make your own contribution to the campaign, please click here.

Food from the Farm: Stuffed Peppers

I love a good stuffed pepper. Stuffed anything, really, seems fancy to me, and I do like to give people cause to ooh and aah a little bit at the table. In many parts of the country it's stuffed pepper season. In my own backyard they peppers are loaded with fruit, all hanging heavy on the plants. It's a race now to see if they'll turn nice and red before the frost, or if we'll have to pick them green. Nice thing about a stuffed pepper recipe is, they are good either way.