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Snow DriftHow much you stock your larder in anticipation of storms or power outages depends on where you live. If you live in the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Gulf Coast, or in the East, a storm (winter or summer) can be very serious. In the Northern Plains, winters are normally harsh and winter storms really are the blizzards of the Little House on the Prairie books. There, the stores are usually full of customers before a winter storm with folks stocking up on milk, bread, and serious munchies. Even in cities in this region, travel the day after a storm is difficult. If you live in a small town or on a ranch or farm, getting into town to a major grocery store may be impossible until the roads are plowed. 

Click to continue reading Hurricanes, Snow Storms, and Power Outages


PantryWhen you start stocking up for winter, you will automatically be thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Take advantage of store sales. Pick up extra flour or another frozen pie crust (if you don’t make your own) if your grocery store offers them at a good price. Start thinking of tucking in an extra can or box of this or that as you shop now.  Over the next few weeks, you should be able to have most of your staples ready in preparation for your holiday dinners or just in case unexpected guests drop in. 

Another way to tackle your holiday shopping is to make out your menus well ahead of time. Then draft your grocery lists. As you shop each week, pick up something on your holiday shopping list. That way you will be spreading the cost over the coming weeks and take advantage of sales. Your perishables will be the only things you will need to buy right before you entertain. 

Click to continue reading Start Stocking Up Now for the Holidays

Root CellarOur pioneer grandmothers also stored root vegetables (potatoes, beets, carrots, and turnips)  in aptly named root cellars. These were usually dirt-floored rooms dug into the ground with a door on top. Vegetables were stored in baskets, laid out on shelving, or buried in sand to keep them from drying out.  Most basements and many garages today however are heated, making storing root vegetables there no different than storing them in your kitchens. 

Click to continue reading Storing Garden Abundance: Root Veggies, Garlic, and Tomatoes

Canning JarsIn years past, almost every woman in America canned or dried garden produce. Some of us still do today. With the advent of bigger and better freezers, more people have opted to freeze fruits and vegetables. You can still get great information about canning and freezing from your County Extension office in your city or town. Or, you can go to the library and find books about canning safety and recipes to use with a pressure cooker or water-bath canner.

Most fruits and vegetables can be blanched briefly in hot water and then put into freezer bags. Label each bag with the contents and the date it was frozen. Freezer bags can be stacked easily or put into cartons in the freezer.

Herbs can also be frozen. Wash them well, pack in small quantities, and freeze them as flat as you can.  You can usually break off a bit as you need it. Frozen herbs are best used in foods that will be cooked.

Empty jarsWhen the crisp air of these mornings whispers to us that fall is on its way, many of us start thinking about stocking up for those cold days to come. Our foremothers did it out of stark necessity and with some real urgency. If they didn’t prepare for winter–and prepare well, they might starve. Today, though we won’t necessarily starve if we don’t put food by, we still prepare our larders for winter whether we live in an apartment or a Victorian mansion. 

There are three good reasons why we stock up for winter. The first, like our grandmothers, is to store the abundance of our gardens so that we can enjoy it all winter long. The second reason is to stock up for the coming holidays when our homes will receive guests. And the last reason is to prepare for snow storms and power outages when it might be difficult to get out to a grocery store.

We will be offering tips on putting food by over the coming days.

Golden DeliciousApples should be firm to the touch, free of bruising and punctures. They also should be relatively shiny. Dull-skinned apples are not as fresh and will not be crisp. 

Store apples in the refrigerator, unless the apples will be eaten within 24 hours. In that case, they may be placed in a fruit bowl or basket and stored at room temperature. 

Peel and/or slice apples just before serving since they will brown. You can also mix one part lemon or lime juice and three parts water and dip apple slices into the mixture. You can also keep apples fresh in a salad by adding them last and pouring orange juice or wine into the fruit bowl.

WatermelonA recent study by the US Department of Agriculture found that the temperature you store watermelons has an effect on how much lycopene and beta-carotene they have. They found that storing watermelons at room temperature (70 degrees F) increased the lycopene the melon produced by 40 percent and beta-carotene up to 139 percent. The human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A.

Also, they found that if you put that succulent melon in the fridge at 41 degrees F, it will start to decay within a week. But you can store them between 50 and 70 degrees for up to three weeks, letting these green packages continue to make nutrients that are good for your body.

It is suggested that you store the melon at these temperatures. Then chill your melon a few hours before your picnic or backyard barbecue. You’ll see enjoy that refreshing cold watermelon that has come to mean summer for a lot of folks, and you’ll get more nutrition with each juicy bite.

No More Corks

Posted by Janie Franz Categories: Trends, Storage Tips, Wine,

CorksOpening a bottle of good wine with a corkscrew may soon be a thing of the past. Because of the shrinkage of acreage that grows cork trees, corks have become scarce and wine makers have sought alternative ways to seal wine. 

First came the plastic corks that don’t crumble like the natural corks do when a corkscrew is applied to them. A number of American wineries that changed to plastic discovered a side benefit. They didn’t have to worry about “corking,” a contamination that sometimes occurs in wine when it is exposed to a bad cork. Sometimes, corks can contain bacteria that can spoil a wine. At other times, the cork just gets musty smelling or bits break off into the wine. These are two conditions that can make the wine not as pleasant to drink.

Recently, more wineries are actually sealing their bottles with screw tops. Though many wine aficionados turned their noses up at the thought, equating it with skid-row wines or fruity college beverages of the past, they soon found that screw tops actually kept even the finest wines at their peak. And, screw tops preserve leftover wine better in the fridge, without it going flat.

Wash garden lettuces or other salad greens well, but do not let them soak in water. This can soften the leaves and cause them to spoil quicker.  Dry the greens thoroughly, either by blotting with paper towels or with a salad spinner.

They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, but put a damp paper towel into the bag before closing. Otherwise, place a paper towel in the bottom of a plastic container. Put in the salad greens, then place a damp paper towel over the lettuce. Cover with an airtight lid.

Watercress can be stored by sticking the stems in a glass of water and placing a plastic bag over the leaves. Wild greens should be used immediately.  Lettuce will last 3-5 days depending on the variety. Romaine will keep longer. Tear or cut lettuces and greens before adding them to salads. Cut strong-tasting wild greens into smaller pieces than you would for lettuces to distribute their flavors.