Since I was a little girl, the idea of growing throughout the summer and stashing away for the winter sounded so perfect. Having the rafters full of drying spices, baskets filled with potatoes and squash in the cellar, and only venturing outside to grab winter carrots from the garden - how wonderful! Yes, I very much idolized Little House on the Prairie, and let’s be real, I live within a 2 minute drive of Target and think Amazon Prime Now is pure magic. But there is something pretty amazing about growing your food and being able to enjoy it all winter long. I try a mix of different things every year, trying new tomato sauces or jams, but do have a few things I always make sure and have stashed away every season. My go-to's are: strawberry freezer jam, onions, garlic, frozen kale, canned salsa verde, and canned whole tomatoes.
Strawberry freezer jam is the best way to enjoy strawberries all season. The minimal preserving leaves the vibrant and fresh taste of strawberries. I love mixing a dollop into plain yogurt in the dead of winter. It feels like such a treat.
Onions and garlic are still something I need to practice growing more, as my results have been rather small, but I hope to work on growing these to have all season long. I hope to be able to grow enough garlic to last until next season, and onions to last through the winter. Looking forward to seeing how they grow this year!
Frozen kale is perfect to add to just about anything in the winter. I store chopped leaves in freezer bags, and grab a bag any time I need it. Kale when frozen becomes more brittle, so often if I roughly chop the leaves before putting them in the bag, then once it is frozen I can shake or beat the bag a bit to break up the kale into smaller pieces before dumping into a soup.
I always find at the end of the growing season that I have an abundance of green tomatoes. I love to make a salsa verde out of these, and use it like a green enchilada sauce throughout the winter. The green tomatoes bring a fresh and tart flavor to the sauce, brightening up a classic winter dish.
Canned whole tomatoes are pure gold in this house. If the house were burning down, I would grab the tomatoes on the way out. I ration them, and only use them in the recipes that bring out their flavor. I know, I am a bit crazy. But truly, nothing beats canned tomatoes in the dead of winter. You open the can and smell the vine ripened beauties all over again. So. Good. I mainly enjoy making simple pasta sauce and adding it to tomato focused soups.
Check out the next blog post for my classic tomato soup recipe. It is so incredibly good with home-canned tomatoes, and perfect for a snowy winter dinner.