Tag Archives: winter stores

It’s the peak of the season, have you started your Winter Stores?

Peak of the season means deals are everywhere at the farmers market. There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables and prices are dropping. You can get great deals on buckets and boxes of tomatoes and strawberries, watermelons, peaches, plums, cantaloupes, etc.

But, what to do with all of them?

The time-tested, ancient answer is to turn them into winter stores. Jam, can, and preserve. Or, if you prefer to be more modern, freeze them.

Freezing is my preferred method because it is so darn easy. The recipe is simple: cut it into squares, put it in container and freeze it. I’ve done this with anything you can imagine and everything has turned out fine.

The other option is to jam and preserve. This is an ancient method for the era before freezers. For most of us, freezer space is still limited and we have to preserve. This method allows food to last for months in a closet. 

My recommended recipe comes from Pomona’s Universal Pectin, which is also my recommended brand of pectin because it is sugar-free and preservative-free (uses honey). You can order it online or find it (or something similar) in your natural foods store.

Here is a link to the recipes.

Next, your probably wondering what to do with all this stuff. Here’s what I do.

First, cash in on the abundant tomatoes because there is so much to do with them. Over the next 12 months I make pizza, marinara sauce, salsa, and any number of soups, including plain-old tomato soup.

Second, I turn my fruit into amazing smoothies. Since I use the freezer method, I have a diverse assortment of fruit ready-cut into squares for smoothie-making.

How about you, do you have any special recipes for your winter stores?

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If you want to live a low-carbon lifestyle then winter stores is definitely the way to go. Not only is it an essential part of the all-farmers market diet, but it also reduces the need to buy high-mileage fruit in the winter. During those winter months, any fruit you buy most likely flew in on a plane from halfway around the world. You can avoid this problem by buying dirt-cheap now, saving it for the winter, and absolutely delighting in high-quality (guilt-free) watermelon, blueberry, or strawberry in the heart of February.

Is it possible to only shop at farmers markets?

With so many benefits to shopping at farmers markets, is it possible skip supermarkets altogether and only shop at farmers markets?

It is, and I have been doing so for 3 years. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly find everything I needed. Maybe one meal’s worth, but all three? everyday?

Yep, it’s possible and the benefits are extraordinary. I spend less money, eat much better, my health is actually improving (I’m losing the fat!), and I have become part of a community. I know my bread-lady, meat-man, old-school Italian (he says to me: “hello-uh big-uh boy”), the avocado savant, and even a Mexican cactus farmer.

The variety of foods at the farmers market is quite deep, so deep that it will take you months to explore all of them. There is no lack of possibilities for feeding yourself. This makes three meals a day easy. The only snag is that while you know how to make Mac n’ Cheese, you probably don’t know what to do with Chard. There is a learning curve but most people seem to enjoy that part of it.

Next, is cost. If you compare, item to item, the food at the farmers market is more expensive than the supermarkets. But, if you compare value (i.e. nutrition) then the farmers market is an extreme bargain.

The easiest way to explain this is think of foods considered to be of very little nutritional value, like popcorn. You can eat a whole jumbo popcorn and still feel hungry. Popcorn is food and a vegetable but it doesn’t contain enough of the vitamins and essential nutrients our bodies need. Yet, it is extremely cheap to buy at the supermarket. Think of farmers markets as the exact opposite. The foods sold there are designed to be jam-packed with vitamins and essential nutrients. So much so, that you get full really quickly. I often find myself eating half of what I used, sometimes one-fourth.

When you’re buying half as much as you used to, or even one-fourth, the amount you spend drops pretty fast. This is hardest part for folks to understand. Always at the farmers market I see people shocked at the prices and I just want to stop them and say “it’s quality not quantity.”

That is especially true when it comes to our health. When you put less food in your body, you lose weight. When you put higher quality food in your body, your health improves. Oh, and higher quality food tastes better too. I could talk for hours about the impact this has on how I look, but suffice it to say, I’m in the best shape of my life.

Depending on the size of your local farmers market, there are some things you won’t be able to find. Coffee is the most obvious one, so is chocolate and tea. For specialty items like these I shop at my local health store. They tend to stock higher quality, more nutritious products (though nowhere near the quality at the farmers market).

Lastly, is the winter stores. There are still plenty of things to buy during the winter, even in especially cold regions. In fact, a large part of French and German cooking is about cooking things sold only in the winter (French Onion Soup, mmm!). But, sometimes you just want a tasty watermelon or juicy pear in January. This is easily solved by creating your winter stores. Buy your favorites at the farmers market when they are going out of season and on sale for steep discounts. Cut them up into squares, freeze them, and don’t let anyone touch until the depths of winter.

These are the important things to know when making the switch to an all farmers market diet. Everything else you can learn at the market, from buyers and farmers. You can ask them anything, about quality or how to cook, and they will answer. That’s why they sell at the market and not the supermarket. They’re part of the rising sub-culture dedicated to ideal health and amazing food. Go ahead, make the switch and see what happens!

 

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