Preserving 2013: Storing Up For Winter, With Recipes!

November 13th, 2013 - filed under: The Food » Food and Health


I must admit, I’m still getting used to this posting-once-a-week schedule. It’s been good to me, in that it’s freed up some much needed time, and it allows me to focus my blogging energy into one really good, really solid post each week. I like that. But still, I can’t help but miss our more frequent interaction. I miss you guys!

Anyway, a few weeks back I posted a short series on some of my very favorite food preservation methods (Part I here and Part II here). So today I want to share some of the actual projects I’ve undertaken this summer and autumn, in order to capture and extend the incredible bounty that these seasons bring.


Early last spring, a little boy planted a sunflower seed. And every day the little boy pulled up the weeds, and sprinkled the ground with water. And then, one day, a sunflower came up!

Yes it’s true, Waits grew a sunflower. Two sunflowers, actually, at 8 ft tall apiece. His mama was very proud.

And after they’d dropped their petals and begun to droop, we cut the heads and let them dry completely. One went to preschool for the kids to play with as they pleased, and one stayed home with us, for saving. A long time ago I posted a comprehensive tutorial for properly harvesting sunflower seeds, and that’s basically exactly what we did. It was really fun! A great project for the kiddo, and we had tons of seeds when we were done. Some went into his sensory table, and some went into a jar to plant next year. And the rest . . . went into our tummies!


Home-roasted sunflower seeds. Super simple:

Make up a solution of salt water using a ratio of roughly 1:4 salt to water. Stir the solution until the salt is fully dissolved, then soak the sunflower seeds in the saltwater overnight. The next day, spread the seeds on a lined baking sheet and bake at low temperature (200-300º) until they just barely begin to turn golden (a few hours, depending on the temperature).

Allow to cool and then dig in! Or, these will keep in an airtight container for a long time, so save them for a tasty treat come midwinter.




My godparents have a banana tree, and by the end of summer they were positively drowning in an overabundance of bananas. We couldn’t keep up! Even my little guy who totally hearts bananas, couldn’t eat them fast enough.

I thought about freezing them for smoothies, but that seems so boring, not to mention it takes up a lot of space. So this year I went a different route.


Fruit roll-ups!

Again, super simple, super easy. To make fruit roll-ups, I just put a bunch of bananas in the blender and added a couple pints of strawberries. You can really use whatever combination of fruit you want.


Blend. I didn’t need to add water because the VitaMix is crazy powerful, but since these are going to be dehydrated anyway, it’s okay to add a bit of water if you need to, just to get it to run completely smooth.

Once blended, spoon it onto the nonstick dehydrator mats, like so:


And then dehydrate at 115º, well, until done? I don’ know the exact time, it sort of depends on how big you make them. I did it overnight, probably around 10 hours.


Once they’re done you can roll them in wax paper, tape them shut, and store them in the fridge. I can’t wait to dig these out in the middle of winter when we haven’t had locally grown fruit in ages. It’ll be such a treat!


2013 was sort of a jalapeño year for me. I couldn’t tell you why (cosmic metaphor?), but they were everywhere! Waits and I grew a few plants all the way from seed, which was fun. But then they started showing up in my CSA box. Every week. More and more of them. And no way could I eat that many!



So I did what I always do when faced with a plethora of tasty veggies: I fermented!

I used a super basic, generic fermented vegetable recipe. You can pretty much insert anything and it’ll end up tasting great. The base brine is made from 1 tablespoon sea salt (non-iodized) in 1 cup filtered water, scaled to as much brine as you need (so 2 tablespoon in 2 cups, 3 in 3, etc).


Cut your vegetables however you like. For this batch I cut the jalapeños into rings and added carrots cut on the bias, and whole garlic cloves. Stuff all the veggies down into a jar, then cover with the brine. Use a sandwich bag filled with water, or another jar, or something to weigh down the veggies and keep them submerged in the brine. You can cover with a rag or cheesecloth but I didn’t, since the sandwich baggie basically covered the whole top.


Allow the vegetables to culture in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. After a few days you can taste them. When they’re as sour/fermenty as you like them, move them to the fridge and put a lid on them. They’ll keep in the fridge indefinitely.

These spicy pickles have become an absolute favorite of my not-boyfriend and mine. We’ve been using them on our beans/greens/grains bowls this fall, and they’re SO good. There’s no way they’ll make it to winter, haha.


And finally, it’s not exactly seasonal, but my not-boyfriend and I were recently tasked with making [vegan] Mexican rice for no less than 100 people, when my dear friends Ingrid and Terry got married. It was so fun! I’ve never made food for that many people before, and the dish was a huge hit (yay vegan!), buuuuut we sort of overestimated on the rice part. And we ended up with my giant salad serving bowl full of rice, and no way to eat it before it went bad.

So, into the freezer it went! I formed the rice into balls, spread them out on a baking sheet, and froze them. Once they were solid I transferred them to a big gallon jar. Now I’ll be able to pull out single serving portions whenever I need brown rice. I love my freezer and the way it saves me from wasting food!



I have one last preservation project I’m working on this fall. Way back in the early summer, our preschool moved locations, and as we were packing up for the move, I noticed that the carob tree was heavy with pods. Not wanting to leave them behind, Waits and I hastily harvested the lot of them, even though some were still quite green. I took them home and spread them out int he sun, where they sat for a few weeks drying.


So now I’m sitting on a basket of brown pods. I’ll let you know if I’m ever successful in turning them into carob powder . . .


And what about you? Any awesome preservation projects this year? Please do share, I know I’m not the only one who finds such inspiration in the comments section here.

Love you guys!

  • KitteeBeeBerns

    I actually keep my jalapenos in the freezer. I just throw them in there. To defrost, you just run them under water for five seconds, then they’re soft enough to cut!

  • sarah

    You have inspired me to buy a food dehydrator! I need one in my life!

  • Lynn

    Back in the late Spring/Summer I froze a bunch of strawberries and blueberries, this fall I’ve made a ton of applesauce (storing it in the freezer in freezer-safe containers), and just last weekend I roasted and pureed pumpkin and acorn squash, which I also froze in prep for the Winter :) In case anyone is interested, I wrote a blog recently about my applesauce, and I’ll be doing a blog post shortly about the roasted winter veggie puree :) Take a look! Love Ya’ll!

  • Emily

    Thank you so much for sharing this! What a wealth of information!!! :)

  • Bianca-Vegan Crunk

    This is my favorite post! So many good ideas! We only grew hot peppers this year (ghosts, habernos, cayennes), so we’ll be making a shit ton of hot sauce soon. I put the peppers in the freezer until we have time. I love the rice ball idea! And homemade pickles are the best.

  • bohemianmatka

    Kudos to Bianca for your hot sauce abundance! I planted different pepper species this year, but with my second booboo on the way, I didn’t have much time to baby them. Only two green bells made it through the tail-end (cross my fingers and toes!) of this horrendous drought, and only one has made a malformed bell :( No home-grown peppers for my family.

  • Deirdre

    I love your homesteading and food saves…and as I’ve recently developed a taste for carob, I’m curious about the pod project! <3

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Wha?? I had no idea you could freeze them, thanks for the tip, lady!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You should! They are super amazing and you can do SO much with them. It’s one of my favorite appliances.

    You can totally get by with one of the $40 round ones, but if you really think you’ll be using it a lot and want to make BIG batches of things, I super recommend an Excalibur. I have the 9-tray and I have had all 9 trays going soooo many times.

    Anyway, if you *do* decide to get an Excalibur, the link in my side bar over there will get you free shipping. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I am VERY interested in the roasted veggie puree, will you come back and share it once it’s posted? Thank you!

    I love frozen berries. In Portland I would take Waits berry picking a few times each summer and just get buckets and buckets and freeze them all. So cheap and delicious that way! Haven’t done that since moving back, but next year . . .

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You’re welcome Emily, I love to share this stuff!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Will you post your hot sauce recipes? You should! I want to do really hot peppers next year.

    I have a delicious fermented sriracha sauce that you can make using any sort of pepper, if you’re into fermented foods it might be fun. =)

    Also, habanero cocktails! –

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Aww, better luck next year!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I love carob too! Definitely excited to try to make real carob powder. Wish me luck! =D

  • bohemianmatka

    I don’t have a food dehydrator… will have to look into getting one soon bc those fruit rollies look awesome! I will try pickling carrots, japs and garlic… (back story!!!) my husband got a bunch of japs for the guys to make them bacon-wrapped style for my son’s baptism (*my husband is not a vegan… obviously…) so I have some leftover jalapenos, always have carrots and garlic on hand, so this is a must try this week.

  • coconutandberries

    This is so cool! Now you’ve got me really wanting a dehydrator since those fruit roll-ups look so darn yummy.
    I used to do the same thing with brown rice but in the flat I’m living in I only have a teeny freezer so can hardly store anything.

  • sarah

    Thank you! :)

  • Sarah

    I just found a recipie for the carob seeds that sounds amazing. Boil the full pods for about ten minutes, then remove the seeds and roast them on a low temp for about half an hour. Then grind them up for powder. We have a carob tree on our old family farm and I never even knew what it was until I saw this post. Now I’m looking forward to harvesting them next year!

  • Phoenyxmama

    Homemade fruit roll-ups?!?! Now I really need to get a dehydrator ;)

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