Once upon a time returning to the office after the winter break was always interesting. Why? Because Friday donuts became "I am on a diet" Friday, "No, I'm not doing sweets" Friday, or "Oh, no carbs for me" Friday but by February donut enjoyment returned to pre-holiday levels.
I am not cynical about New Year resolutions but I prefer to call them commitments. I know, I know, really!? Does that really make a difference? Here's how I think about it, each year and throughout the year I make commitments to a path rather than a black and white choice to do or not do something. For example: One year I made a commitment to move towards a toxic-free home. The commitment was clear: toxic-free. But, there was room to interpret what that meant over the course of the year. It was good if I did a hundred things or maybe it would be one thing that was huge. It allowed space and time to learn. I was able to temper what making our home less toxic meant in our lives, with our time, and our budget.
In other words, set yourself up for success!
So, here are some ideas for 2016 food preservation commitments:
- Buy (or grow) produce in bulk and preserve. Remember preservation includes root cellaring, cool storage, and freezing. Always kick yourself for not buying or growing something when it is in season? Here's your chance to change all that and preserve the item(s) instead. Why pay a $1 for a green pepper?
- Learn to preserve food using a new method. Boiling water bath canning, pressure canning, fermenting, dehydrating, smoking, freezing, etc. Ask someone to teach you a new method or take a class.
- Take item(s) off the grocery list. For example: Make condiments instead of buying them. Think fermented mustard, quick pickle relish, and so on.
- Make seasonal sweet preserves. At one end is the commitment spectrum to no longer purchase sweet preserves and at the other end is to simply make seasonal jams.
- Join with a friend or two and agree to swap preserved foods. Or join with a friend or two and purchase bushels of apples or other food and preserve together.
- Learn to ferment a new food. Already make kombucha? Try kefir, tepache, jun, vinegar, or ginger beer. Or maybe all of the above! Already make quark, chèvre, or other fresh cheeses? Learn to make bloomy rind cheeses, or brined cheeses. Buying yogurt? Learn how to make yogurt.
- Upgrade your bulk storage solutions. Often folks have food stored in bulk but the foods are not protected from little critters. Mylar bags on a shelf are vulnerable to nighttime critters nibbling through the mylar. Or maybe you have a bunch of bags crammed in your pantry and organizing your bulk storage with jars is in order. Or maybe you want to start building an supply in case of emergency.
- Add equipment to your food preservation arsenal and learn how to use the equipment. This could mean a new pressure canner or converting a fridge to use as a cheese cave. Maybe you've thought about a vacuum sealer but haven't taken the time to research, purchase, and use one.
- Commit to zero food waste. This could mean committing to only prepare what you know you and your family will eat or only buying/grow what you need, or being sure to have a plan for leftovers. There are many ways to approach this one.
Perhaps give one of these ideas (or other ideas) a whirl for 2016! Remember you can commit or recommit at any time!