Pickled, Preserved and Frozen Foods.

More and more folks are growing their own fruits and vegetables. Summer and Fall presents us with an riches as an avalanche of tomatoes, peppers, cukes, corn, peaches, plums, and other fresh produce flood farmer’s markets, fruit stands, roadside stalls, and even supermarket shelves. The flavor of this sun-ripened produce is at its peak, and following the simple law of supply and demand, the price is at its lowest. Indeed, you can often get a bushel of tomatoes or peaches for what you would pay for a handful at a less bounteous time of year. The same lower-price, better-taste principle applies to those fruits and vegetables that have different peak seasons-such as strawberries and asparagus in late spring and pumpkins and hard squash in late fall.
The purpose of the recipes in this blog is to help you take advantage of nature’s largess. If you buy fresh vegetables and fruits at their peak and when their prices are most reasonable, you can freeze them and have your “five a day” out of the freezer all winter long-at summer prices and with that unmatchable summer taste. All the instructions you need are in this blog. Freezing is incredibly simple. With only a bit more effort, you can make your own unbelievably tasty pickles, relishes, and chutneys. And if you also make your own jellies and jams, you will not only save money but also have ready-made presents for hostesses and new neighbors as well.
Saving money is not the only reason for producing your own homemade products. Even more disturbing are the compromises that have to be made to a commercial item’s integrity to ensure that it will survive the weeks or months from the time it is manufactured, then shipped and stored, left on the retailer’s shelf, and finally picked up and used by you. Depending on the type of product, it is pumped full of stabilizers, plasticize, extenders, fillers, and other man-made chemicals.
Not all of those additives are there to extend shelf life. Some are added to facilitate the manufacturing process, making the product move faster, release from a mold easier, or create less interference to the smooth flow of production. Other artificial ingredients are added to help the item withstand heat and cold and to be less likely to clump, precipitate, or adhere to packaging.
Still other questionable chemicals are used to cut the cost of using natural ingredients.
The best-known villain here is artificial flavoring. Why use expensive, perishable, and difficult-to-handle real strawberries when you can just add a few pinches of a chemical compound that simulates the smell and taste of the berries? Chemical laboratories that support the food, cosmetic, and other industries actually have “sniffing” rooms lined with bottles, each containing a carefully concocted compound and labeled with the name of the fruit, flower, or other natural odors that it emulates. You didn’t really believe that “lemon fresh” cleaner contains lemons, did you? No, no more than that “strawberry flavored” ice cream or candy contains real strawberries. They think that you can’t taste the difference. But try the real thing side by side with the imitation and there’s no question about which is the winner.
In short, anything that you make yourself is likely to be much more natural and more healthful for you than the great majority of manufactured products you buy-whether it’s a food, a cosmetic, or a cleaning compound. And in the case of food, it’s going to taste a lot fresher.
Suit Your Own Needs:
Another great advantage of making products yourself is that you can customize them so that they are just the way you want them. If you like your moisturizer to be fresh smelling and restorative without being greasy and overwhelmingly perfumy, no problem. If you like your chocolate chip cookies to be moist and really chocolaty, no problem. If you want your spaghetti sauce tangier, your gumbo thicker, your ketchup smoother flowing, your mustard spicier, your frozen yogurt tarter, or if the doctor told you to cut back on the salt or sugar, no problem. Nearly all the recipes in this blog are flexible and can be readily adjusted to fit your wants or needs. Indeed, we invite you to experiment until you get a product just the way you like it. {Bread and cakes being notable exceptions; always follow the recipe for such baked goods exactly.}
Make Less Waste:
In the process of making your own staples, you are going to greatly reduce the amount of useless, environment-damaging waste and garbage you produce. A lot of this is the result of all the packaging you won’t be throwing away and all the spray bottles, jars, and such that you will be recycling. But you will also be cutting waste by making your products in batches small enough so that you can easily use them up without having to toss out the last part when it goes bad. For cleaning, laundering, and polishing, you will also be using compounds that are much gentler and less damaging to surfaces and fabrics-and to drains and sewage ans septic systems. So when you make it yourself, you do your bit to save the world!
Get Personal Satisfaction:
Last but not least among the rewards of making a product yourself is the great sense of personal satisfaction and accomplishment it brings. It’s very gratifying to know not only that you can make a staple yourself, but also that you are not dependent on giant corporations and their vulnerable supply chains to satisfy your everyday needs. Being able to fashion our own food, cleaning, and other staples links us with traditions that helped shape us as a people and a nation-traditions of resourcefulness, ingenuity, independence, and self-reliance that stood our ancestors well as they struggled to fashion homes in a strange new land, tame frontiers, and endure the constraints of war times and depressions.
Expect to be pleasantly surprised by how really simple and easy it is to make many of the products that you are accustomed to buying ready-made-whether they be peanut butter or pancake mix at your local supermarket, chicken nuggets at a fast-food outlet, lip balm at the cosmetic counter, foot powder at the drugstore, liver snaps at the pet store, furniture polish and bug spray at the house and garden center, or gumdrops at the newsstand. None of the recipes are difficult to make and none call for a lot of ingredients.