Updated: Jan 7
For most people 100% food self-sufficiency is not achievable but even small percentage of growing own food will improve not only our health, family budget connection to nature but also our appreciation of real food.
As a kid I have always been involved in growing fruit and veg on my grandparents allotment in Slovakia (part of former Czechoslovakia). With the arrival of autumn the garden chores of growing slowly changed to picking and processing food for winter storage. Back then supermarkets were rare and people were much more self sufficient.
In Slovakia there are a lot more apartments than houses and we also lived in city apartment. Cellars are common in houses however even apartments had cellars allocated for storage. In Ireland cellars aren’t that common but I believe pantries will be equivalent where food is stored.
When I started growing own food again here in Ireland few years ago I quickly followed the same habits from childhood of storing and preserving food too.
Here are some tips how you can preserve which food in autumn to have them ready for winter:
we forage and collect various soft fruit- raspberries, blackcurrants, buckthorn and blackberries. You can pretty much freeze any soft fruit if you have more supply that you can eat. We also blanch runner beans and green leaves in boiling water and freeze them too.
Apples, potatoes and root vegetable store quite well. Place them in crates in dark, cool, moist but well ventilated space as shed or as we do in our attic ( our shed is way too small).
various fruit and veg can be dried or “dehydrated” to extend shelf life. You can dry in open oven set on low temperature or get food drier. Many mushrooms are great for drying BUT must know your mushrooms! When you do it’s a great way to introduce delicious flavors into your cooking, fresh or dried. The taste difference compared to shop bought button mushrooms is hard to put down with words, you simply must taste them!
There is limitless possibilities with canning. This is great way to preserve various foods that you have excess off. Fruit, veggies, mushrooms can all be canned. We are canning applesauce as that is the only excess produce we have access to, check recipe here.
What else you can do:
Elderberry syrup: its great immunity booster during cold winter months. We used to buy elderberry syrup but with cost of €60-90 per liter and plenty of free berries growing in our area we decided to make our own. What’s more as we swapped the sugar syrup ingredient for honey it’s even healthier. We use following recipe.
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