Guest post by Debbie Cee.
Feeding and storing food for six takes a fair amount of space and a lot of thought. Since four of us are still growing, nutrition is a top priority for me. I organize my food storage by food groups, with each group presenting different challenges. This post is about how I am handling fruit.
Fruit is important for its vitamin C, which our bodies cannot make, for its fiber and even for its sweet taste. Life seems a little easier with sweets, doesn’t it? Hand a piece of fruit or some raisins to a child, and you have a happy child. Jam on your toast is appreciated by all ages. Fruit can be both a treat and an energy boost. For all these reasons, I have a good sized stock of fruit.
You can store canned, frozen, dehydrated or freeze dried fruit, and then, of course, there is jam. I have ended up with a bit of each in my stores. Between having six to feed and having a growing cooking skill, I go for a variety of foods whenever possible.
I have a large shelf in my basement filled with canned fruit in fruit juice and applesauce. In my climate controlled basement in the Northeast, cans and jars are good for several years. Although I have to be space conscious, I’m willing to use cans and jars because the juice is also food. There is no wasted liquid; every bit is Vitamin C laden goodness.
I also have about twenty jars of homemade jam. We go to u-pick places and pick away. My kids have a huge amount of fun, and I get fresh picked fruit to work with. I have made strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and cherry jams so far. I consider jam a very good storage item. High calorie and sweet, mine is made within two days of getting picked. If I didn’t make it, I’d be buying jam from the stores, and paying a good amount of money to get jam with only fruit, sugar and pectin in it.
Making jam is surprisingly easy and lots of fun. You boil the fruit and sugar together, add a bit of pectin, and then pour it into jars. The jars get boiled in a water bath pot and there you are. All home canning supplies can be purchased in one quick trip to Wal-Mart. If you live near a u-pick place with good prices, look into it. Your jam will taste better than Smucker’s. My jam does, and I’ve only been making it for two years.
The fruit we pick also gets frozen and dehydrated. Freezers are great for storing food. Just remember to not count on them completely. If the power goes out, you will have to work at it to keep food frozen. I keep some old blankets near my freezer, just in case. Wrapping the freezer with blankets if the power goes out will give you more time before your food starts to thaw. A battery powered temperature alarm for your freezer is also money well spent. I got one from Cabella’s for about $15.
Raisins, craisins, dates and prunes will store for a good six months unless packaged for longer-term storage. Check the expiration date to be sure you are buying fairly new product. A handful of these dried fruits will give you a good energy boost. They make a bowl of oatmeal even more delicious, and don’t forget, they are good in cookies.
I have some freeze dried fruit that I bought on sale, and some commercially dehydrated apples waiting to go into a bucket. Watch for sales on long-term storage foods. 10% off is a very good deal for freeze dried foods nowadays. Long term storage is very convenient in that you buy it, stash it in a corner and don’t have to worry about it again. I work much more on my weekly groceries and my medium range larder stores then I ever have to for long-term storage.
Having a variety of foods is always a good idea. I seldom have home dehydrated fruit around. It seems to disappear almost as quickly as I make it. If you don’t have children hovering over your dehydrator, go for it. Just remember the fruit is probably not good for more than six months. Use it in your medium range stores
Another source of fruit is home-grown. I planted two apple trees in our yard two years ago; I’m seeing small apples on them now. Fruit trees and berry bushes give you very good value for their price and the space they take. It used to be very common for yards to have fruit trees and berry bushes.
With all the choices for fruits, you can have an easy time picking what you like best. I strongly recommend not having just cans or just dehydrated or just freeze dried. Having both light weight and heavy fruit could make packing for a bug out situation much easier, for example. Having canned fruit as part of your rotating stocks could make a loss of income easier on your children if fresh fruit ever became too expensive. They will already be accustomed to canned fruit and not be stressing about new food items. An apple tree or strawberry patch in your yard is a little bit of self reliance out there, making you smile and feel powerful as it grows food for you.
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