I love the expression "putting food by." It is a somewhat outdated saying, one that our grandparents and great grandparents would have been more familiar with than we are. Before the age of refrigeration it was crucial to know how to properly prepare and store the summer's bounty for the upcoming winter. Failure to have enough food on hand could threaten your very survival. The literary illustration that comes to mind is The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part of the Little House series of books, it is the gripping story of a community shut off from the rest of the world due to a series of blizzards that rage, one after the other, for the entire winter. The Ingalls family barely make it through to the next spring when, at last, a train with relief supplies is able to make it through. When my kids were younger we read the whole Little House series out loud several times over. I especially loved pulling this book out when we were in the midst of our own snow storm, cuddled up warm and cozy together on the couch, reading about the hardships Laura and Mary were having to endure.
Perhaps it is the impression left by the many readings of that book, or possibly just my own eccentric nature- that I will leave for the reader to decide- but every year I spend time putting food by. There are several ways I do that, but in this post I want to highlight one in particular. I have an Excalibur food dehydrator that is in almost constant use from the middle of summer right up to the end of October. It is a fairly easy process to dehydrate food. I will use my garden carrots to illustrate the steps.
These get used in soups and stews throughout the fall and winter. Without going into as much detail here are a few other examples. First up are some Italian plums, followed by cranberries.
The cranberries get put into cookies, breads, muffins and bowls of hot oatmeal. They are so much better than the sugar laden ones you buy in the store. The plums get eaten by the handful straight out of the jar! Finally, here is a sample line-up of this year's winter supply. We might have a long winter in store for us here north of 49, but I think we'll be okay.