Once the farmers’ market starts up around here, it’s time to review the pantry. What’s left of the things I put up last summer? What did we run out of and what are we still eating? Do the storage goals for this year need to be adjusted? Will I be able to defrost the chest freezer before it’s time to start putting new things in it?
I seem to recall that in previous years, this process usually produced a surprise or two. Dried carrots aren’t good for much more than soup, for instance, and that only grudgingly. Bing cherries are amazing dried; Rainiers are not. Spinach should be well-packed into quart jars, otherwise a single baking dish of spanikopita can use a entire stash of loosely-packed pints, leaving the freezer bare of spinach for the rest of the winter. A little broccoli is a nice thing to have.
This year, I think the only surprise is that we did eat our way through most of the strawberries. Or Caitlyn did. (She likes to have berries in her lunches at school and she switches off between frozen blueberries and frozen strawberries. We pack them the evening before and they’ve thawed nicely by lunchtime.) But otherwise, our quantities worked out about right. If anything, I could scale back a little since we still have a quart of broccoli, a few jars of peas, a few more of corn, several small jars of dried peppers, some extra shredded zucchini.
I have a Food Storage Goals list stuck to the wall in the pantry with the targets for this year’s food storage projects. I’ve even managed to add in the notes from last year (eg: 5 pints of small – cherry or grape – tomatoes from Alvarez Farms dries down to 4 half-pints) to help with the awkward question of how much produce to buy. This year, fewer Asian pears – no matter how good the deal. I’ve also customized the freezer inventory page from NW Edible Life so I’ve got one in the pantry and one on the freezer. I can mark down packed units (gallon bags of strawberries, quarts of tomatoes) as they come in and then check them off as they get eaten. Maybe next spring’s pantry inspection will involve more review of spreadsheets and less unpack-what’s-left-in-the-freezer-so-I-can-count-it.
For this year, I don’t anticipate a lot of changes to my food storage habits. I did just splurge on a new kitchen scale and Canning for a New Generation so maybe there will be some small batches of new things tried. Like roasted tomatoes. Or dried blueberries. Maybe a salsa? Who wants to batch test?