Come this time of year, most folks look outside and see the white stuff and think “It’s snowing, my canning is all done!” And they jump with joy. Then, there dyed in the wool food putter-uppers, who think that winter is just another opportunity for doing different stuff. I’m one of the latter. Winter is the 4th season of food preservation.
So, what DO you put up in the winter? My answer to this is, well, there’s a lot of stuff to work on! Remember in August when you just couldn’t bring yourself to turn the pressure canner on and add *more* heat to the kitchen? Now that the temperature is down in the teens, this is the perfect time to do that batch of pressure canning. I spend my weekends during the winter over a nice warm stove. It helps to keep the house (and me!) warm.
What do you can in the winter? I can lots of things.
- Winter is the perfect opportunity to refill your stock of canned beans from all those you either purchased dry or let dry on the vine in the summer.
- We do a lot of grilling during the summer – I trim all of the meat, as I’m not a fan of gristle, but I save the trimmings in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. I have a bag of beef and a bag of chicken. I use these for stock. Stock doesn’t care if it’s made out of left-overs you’d normally feed to the dogs or cats, it just goes. (This method also allows you to skim the fat off the top and pitch or save as you choose.)
- I can lemonade and lemon cleaner during the winter. In some other, much, much warmer place than I live, it’s citrus season. They’re cheap in January.
- In the winter, we put on our mittens and go through our freezer, looking for freezer burnt stuff and things which have gotten buried. It’s great if you just want to clean house and not defrost – nothing that you bring out will melt. These things are also frequently canned – canning freezer burnt meat takes the freezer burnt out of it. I’ve a whole shelf of canned sausage from last year’s freezer adventure.
- Extra dinners. Making chili? Double batch it and can the left-overs. Same goes for any other meaty sauce or soup.
Winter is also great for dehydrating. This too can help to heat, not overheat, your house. Winter is when we have great grocery store sales on things like celery, carrots and mushrooms. All of these get run thru the slicer on my food processor and dehydrated. I then put them into my bailing wire jars and store them – this is the perfect use for those older jars that you may not be sure of the seal on.
Other tasks that are good to do when it’s cold out;
- Make laundry soap.
- Make lotion.
- Clean and re-org your food storage
- Check on the apple cider vinegar that you put up to ferment in August and use.