Thursday, May 23, 2013

Urban Homesteading: Putting up Produce (Cherries)

As I have mentioned I am enjoying our little community garden. However, in reality most of us city-folk do not have the space to grow enough fruits and vegetables for our family to eat. And we definitely  do not grow enough to can or put food up for the winter. One of the keys to homesteading regardless of your location is the ability to look around you and use what you have available to you. A benefit of living in the city is all the local markets and ethnic groceries. Here in Southern California we have a wide variety of produce available to us and if I keep an eye out I can get amazing deals when markets are trying to quickly sell large amounts of fresh produce.

I posted about our great deal on zucchini last year. This past week a market in town offered fresh locally grown sweet cherries for 99 cents per pound. How could I pass that up? I quickly picked up about 11 pounds and called a friend to borrow a cherry pitter. I was able to process all the cherries over the course of two days. During the cleaning, pitting, and processing I had lots of little helpers appear in the kitchen. Little Luke would hear the sound of the pitter and come running with his mouth wide open for a fresh cherry.

After eating a bunch fresh for every meal including snacks, I was able to freeze a few pounds for summer smoothies. I also made a batch of fresh cherry jam. The jam was delicious over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

One evening as I was finishing up the last of the processing I decided that a fresh cherry cobbler was called for. I did not get a picture since Shane and I quickly dug in when it came out of the oven but I assure you it was the perfect evening snack.

If you don't have a big garden to provide food for your family year round start looking for opportunities to preserve fresh produce for the winter. For the next few months, most fruits and vegetables will be fresh, at their peak season, and at their lowest prices. You may have a neighbor with a lemon tree or an abundance of produce from their garden. Or you might be able to find a great deal at the grocery store this week. With a little extra work now you will be able to provide good, healthy food options for your table this coming winter without breaking the food budget.

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