Thinking Ahead: Store Local Food for Winter
By Natalie Fullerton, Our Local Food – South Central coordinator
Seems crazy to think about winter while we’ve got our flip flops on and cold, summery drinks in hand but now is really a great time to be thinking ahead! Living in the Midwest, many ask how to eat local in the winter when local produce is in shorter supply. While more farmers are utilizing season extension to bring you produce in the winter months, it’s harder to eat a larger variety of local when the leaves have fallen.
Planning ahead by stocking up on the products you know you will utilize in the winter months is one easy way you enjoy the tasty local food you’ve come to enjoy year round. When visiting farmers markets or farm stands stock up on your favorite items and preserve what you will not use right away. Almost any kind of perishable food can be frozen, canned, or dried. Talk to farmers about what you need and if advanced orders need to be made. Don’t forget meat is easy to stock up on and often accessible fresh during winter months. Although the most common method of preserving meat is by freezing, you can also dry meat for jerky or can.
If you are new to any of the preservation methods above be sure to check with your local county extension office. Many host workshops that will help you learn how to preserve food using the methods listed above. You can also have your pressure canner gauge tested at the extension office to be sure to it is accurate and working propely.
Always keep food safety in mind. When in doubt about how to preserve a type of food, ask your local extension agent or food processing expert.
Home food preservation resources:
National Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu/
K-State Extension Preperation & Preservation Publications: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/library/p.aspx?tabid=16&topic=Food
K-State Rapid Response Center:
USDA, The Complete Home Canning Guide: