In the post about my first sweater, I mentioned that I have been doing other things besides knitting in preparation for winter. These other actions are entirely centered around food. Donovan & I have been Farmer's Market buddies all summer and have been surprised at not only how much better the food we get tastes, but as how it is less expensive than buying the organic equivalent at the grocery store. I have taken this trip one step further to buy a whole bunch of what is in season at the time, while it is yummy and inexpensive, and then going home to freeze it. I use some of my haul to make a fresh item, like pie or a nice fruit salad, but the rest of it gets prepared and put in the freezer.
Donovan & I both lucked out when buying bulk for preserving reasons; we were able to get 15 lbs of blueberries for $18 and 12 lbs of tomatoes for $10! You can have the same luck too, just ask when you go to the market! Most of the farmers at the markets have bulk purchase discounts, and if you are going to use the goods for canning, ask for "seconds." Seconds are veggies and fruits that are just as yummy as the ones they display, they just aren't so pretty, so they sell them at a discount.
So far I have frozen sliced apples and blueberries, which I hope will bring a bit of summer into our dull Chicago winters. If you want to freeze in season goodies for later use, make sure to do a search on the best way to prepare them. Some produce requires you blanche (quick boil and then plunge into ice water) before freezing. To avoid that huge lump of frozen something or other, I found that freezing the items in a single layer on a baking sheet first and then placing them in a plastic bag, alleviates this predicament.
You will have to cut and perhaps peel most produce too, but it is definitely worth it. I've been peeling and coring all of my apples by hand for both making applesauce and for freezing, but my friends recently bought me an apple peeler, which cuts this processing time significantly. If you are big on making applesauce and pies, I definitely recommend investing in a crank-style apple peeler.
I've also been gathering fruit at the markets to make jam. I was lucky that I did not miss apricot season with my traveling and made a nice batch of jam from that. I also experimented with blueberry jam from that huge box of berries I got. The color of those berries are intense and after all was said and done, my kitchen looked like I just murdered a muppet! As for the tomatoes, Donovan & I got together to can them in crushed form. This process was much easier than we expected; we wrote about it on the Grandma Club blog.
If you are not ready to can but want to save a bit of summer for the upcoming winter, I suggest to freeze some produce. You don't need that much space in your freezer at all. After they are frozen on the baking sheet and placed in bags, you can arrange the bags like little books on a shelf in your freezer. I have quite a small freezer, but have just stacked up to make space for these treats that will get my house smelling like summer when snow is covering the ground. Happy preserving!