As the sunny days filled with overflowing seasonal summer produce are now but a memory, we turn toward the crisp days of fall. It’s bittersweet to say goodbye to summer and welcome the cooler weather and changing leaves, but with it comes opportunity. Goals renewed, organizing and cleaning tasks to complete, and, of course, the goodness of fall food.
Here’s what we’re doing to prep for the season:
- Pickling! Getting those last cukes, zucchini and other pickle-worthy produce items in the back of the fridge or preserved on the shelf is a great way to enjoy the bounty year-round. We love this recipe from Food in Jars.
- Basil just won’t die. I wouldn’t be surprised if you still have some in your yard, so make some pesto with garlic, spinach, and perhaps even kale or chard and freeze it in batches. Our “un-recipe” for garlic scape pesto is a good guide. We found some secondhand Beaba freezer trays in awesome condition at a thrift shop for just $3 and use those to portion the pesto.
- Make-ahead marinara. Same idea as the pesto, use this recipe for homemade, freezer-safe marinara.
- Pumpkin puree. Remember the Great Pumpkin Shortage last year? It’s a disturbing thought to be sans canned pumpkin all season. So when the squirrels <shakes fist!> started nibbling my fall pumpkin, I brought it inside, cut it up, roasted pumpkin seeds and then roasted the giant pumpkin in two batches. (It was a GIANT pumpkin.) I scooped out the flesh and froze it in the Beaba trays and then transferred the smaller portions of pumpkin to freezer bags…and then proceeded to freeze more. I’ll use the puree all winter for a more savory (since it wasn’t a sugar pumpkin) version of Big Mama’s Pumpkin Bread, pumpkin pancakes, soups and more.
- Put up fruit butters. I have just one jar of sour cherry preserves left from this summer’s jam sessions – and I’m saving it for a snowstorm! – so the time has come to put up more products on the preserves shelf. I want to use pears and apples to make fruit butters. This summer I made a fantastic lemon rhubarb butter based on yet another recipe from Food in Jars and can’t wait to try the technique with fall fruits – though they take much longer to cook down than rhubarb.
- Freezing summer fruits such as strawberries and peaches. Ideal for smoothies or as a mix-in for yogurt.
- Making one last batch of freezer jam. There’s nothing like homemade jam on homemade bread, and if I stock up now, my future self will thank me. “Go to” recipe for easy peasy jam found here.
- Freezing batches of quick breads and muffins. I love when I forget what I tucked away in the freezer, especially if it hits the spot for something sweet, like a slice of banana bread or a berry muffin.
- Baking bread. It’s another goal to have loaves of bread on hand regularly so I can reduce what I buy from the store. And really, there’s no store bought comparison to homemade bread. Clearly I’m in need of a bigger freezer.
- Saving glass food containers for storage. In my quest to reduce plastic use, it’s been helpful to reuse leftover glass jars rather than tossing them right into the recycle bin.
- Be mindful of my meal planning goals. Fall comes racing in, and before we know it the holidays are staring us in the face. Staying in a rhythm of weekly meal planning that includes trying new recipes is definitely a goal.
- Early holiday planning. Okay, so it makes me crazy to see the stores display all the holiday merchandise so early each year, yet I’m looking online at fall recipes. Perhaps I won’t use them, but I enjoy thinking ahead about menus and party ideas even if they seem far fetched now.
How are you planning for fall and winter in your home?