By Lois Hamilton
Oh that exciting time of the year when an abundant supply of fresh food tempts us and overwhelms us at the same time! Whether you grow your own food or gather these fresh gems from your favourite farmers market, harvesting and preserving makes nutrition sense, provides convenient quick solutions throughout the year and can be quite rewarding! What to do with all that food? How about these ideas?
Pretty much any vegetable, fruit, nut, seed or grain can be fermented. Fermenting is NOT the same as pickling. Pickling is preserving food using acidity and is usually heated. Fermentation is preserving food using beneficial bacteria that breaks down the carbohydrates in the food. The huge benefit with fermentation is that it provides probiotics for our bodies! There are so many yummy recipes for fermented food, from kimchi, ketchup, apples to sauerkraut. Check out my blog for my favourite sauerkraut or fermented pickles recipe. (holistichealthwithlois.com: #fermentedsauerkraut #fermentedpickles). “The Art of Fermentation” is a great book that explains fermenting in great detail!
Everything can be dehydrated and if you don’t have a dehydrator, most recipes can be done in your oven on the lowest oven temperature. Leaving the oven door open can help too. Try drying herbs, veggie chips (kale, turnips, sweet potato, zucchini, beets, parsnips) fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, banana, apple) or fruit leather. These are great ways to use up the produce and it makes great portable snacks for hiking, school lunches or travel snacks. Check out my blog for my family’s favourite Banana, Strawberry Fruit Leather recipe. (holistichealthwithlois.com: #fruitleather) You won’t believe how easy it is to make!
When cutting fruit and vegetables for chips it is helpful to use a mandolin or a professional meat slicer which is what I use. This will
help to ensure even drying as will rotating the dehydrator trays. For veggie chips I coat them with either extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil (if you want a lighter more neutral tasting oil) and then season them with garlic powder, onion powder, unrefined sea salt and any other savoury spice that catches your fancy. With banana or apple chips I often use cinnamon and cloves or nutmeg.
In addition to drying herbs, onion and garlic can be dried and then I just whir it through my spice/coffee grinder and I’ve got
garlic or onion powder ready for adding to my cooking creations. Using your own herbs and flavourings in this way is far superior to
the products in the store. While you’re at it, make your own spice blends and save money. Try it out for yourself!
Salsa, bruschetta, antipasto, or pasta sauces are great ways to use up tomatoes and other vegetables. You might even prefer a fruit salsa with mango or pineapple – let your creativity flow. Pesto of all kinds can help you to use up the fresh herbs. Mustard, relish and applesauce are other condiments that are great to have around throughout the year. Check out my blog (holistichealthwithlois.com: #relish) for a Thousand Island Relish recipe.
Of course we all know that you can freeze produce (the trick is to freeze it uncrowded on baking trays so it won’t lump together and then transfer it to freezer bags for storage). How about freezing your favourite smoothie ingredients in individual serving bags? Kale and other smoothie greens that have been processed in your blender with a touch of pure coconut water can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred in bags for freezer storage. Fresh herbs with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil can be frozen in ice cube trays and then transferred in bags for freezer storage. This is so convenient when you want fresh herbs in your soups, stews, stir frys or casseroles. With a plethora of squash choices during harvest time you could make soup, muffins or quick breads and freeze them for later use. Think about the portion size that would suit you or your family – you might want to freeze the soup in individual portions or family size. Check out my website under soup recipes for the most delicious Pumpkin Protein Soup, a complete meal for sure!
As with all food preservation methods, attention to food safety is of the utmost importance. The following is a link to a pdf on food preservation safety. healthunit.org/foodsafety/_resources/Safe_Food_Handling_Tips_for_Preserving_Your_Harvest.pdf
Wishing you a bountiful, delicious and safe harvest time!
Lois Hamilton, Certified Holistic Nutritionist and
Natural Nutrition Clinical Practitioner
Holistic Health with Lois