31 October 2010

Save its life!

When there’s food in the fridge or on the counter that’s getting weary, it’s time to get creative and find ways to save its life.

I had a batch of pears from our food co-op purchase that were suddenly all very ripe. Those got chopped into hunks and put in a pot with a few wrinkly apples, also chopped into hunks, cooked and mashed with the potato masher. A run through the food mill into the slow cooker with a dash of cinnamon and a shot of honey, several hours heating with the lid off to cook off the excess liquid, and we have 3 jars of pear/apple butter - a jam substitute or flavouring for plain oatmeal.

Earlier this week, half a head of cabbage went in the pot with garden beets retrieved from the freezer and a pot of borscht was made: some was eaten, and the rest packaged into portion sized dishes in the freezer. They’ll make good lunches for me.

The rest of the cabbage, some potatoes, celery and wrinkly carrots are simmering on the stove this afternoon with onion and garlic into a cabbage soup. I may be the only one willing to eat it, but hey, I like cabbage.

The remainder of the weary celery is in the dehydrator, destined to become celery salt and possibly dehydrated vegetable soup ingredients.

It’s just a matter of paying attention and taking a few extra minutes to rescue something that is getting overripe – better that it be food than compost, and better that it be people food than animal food, if possible. It doesn’t take long, if you’ve already got the cutting board out, to chop up the rest of the celery and put it in the dehydrator. If you’re in the kitchen anyway, simmering the fruit and pureeing it is not much extra trouble – and the slow cooker can reduce it down without any real supervision at all on your part.

Having the right tools is a big help – the food mill, slow cooker and dehydrator are important members of the Food Rescue Squad – but having the right mindset is the most important thing.


  1. I still have some cabbage as well and should do something with it. But I've got some rubbery carrots that need to be dealt with first. I'm thinking maybe some carrot dilly soup would be nice. There's great satisfaction in making something good out of something that others might throw in the garbage. The chickens would have been the next step, I guess, and they would get great satisfaction too!

  2. The soup turned out less cabbagey than I thought it might - I did let it simmer a good long time. And yup - making good food from things that are 'weary' is a great feeling!

  3. Saving more food during the crazy garden season is on my to do list for next year.

  4. Kevin, if you haven't already gotten a dehydrator, I highly recommend one! It is a great way to preserve surplus without a lot of human intervention (slice or cook/puree, spread out, ignore overnight). Quick & easy - and dried foods take less space for storage ... and do you know anyone who doesn't like natural fruit leather? I've yet to have anyone turn down the stuff I make. :)


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