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Preserving the Harvest, Round 2

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for October 2005

It's harvest time where I live in New England. Everything is available at the peak of its flavor. But in the depths of winter, those strong flavors will be only a memory for most people.

Me? I'll be eating tomatoes, and green beans from the garden, and flavoring them with garden basil, dill, and chives. And apples I picked myself at a local orchard.

That's because I preserve some of the harvest each year. The apples and tomatoes go through a food dehydrator, which I purchased inexpensively about fifteen years ago. I do take the precaution of storing my dried harvest in the freezer, in case one or two pieces in a jar were improperly dried and would otherwise go moldy--but they take up far less space and the flavor gets wonderfully concentrated. I've dried all sorts of fruits and vegetables, and the only one that didn't work out too well was rhubarb.

Herbs are easy--we just tie them together at the bottom of the stems, turn a bunch upside down, and hang it in a sunny window for a week or so, until the leaves crumble in our hands. We also freeze some basil as whole leaves (looks ugly but tastes great), and some mixed with oil and ground into pesto--just add grated cheese. We're trying putting some in an ice cube tray this year, so we can defrost a portion at a time.

The beans, we simply freeze whole.

A lot of people around this area do home canning. I don't, because first of all, it seems like too much work, and second, I'm nervous about the potentially fatal consequences if the canning goes awry. But a whole lot of folks think it's great.

I forgot last month that I wouldn't be talking to you before International Frugal Fun Day, which was October 1st this year. I hope you did something frugal and fun under $5. I got in a dance party, a hike on a mountain, and a visit with some friends, so I more than made my quota .

For more ideas on inexpensive gourmet dining, in or out of the home, see food chapter of Shel's e-book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook. 280 pages of powerful frugal fun tips for a mere $8.50.

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Preview Shel Horowitz's Penny Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook a 280-page e-book that shows you how to save a big pile of money on travel, dining, entertainment, recreation, and all sorts of other fun.
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