What Self Reliance Tastes Like In Mid-Winter
With the winter solstice recently passed, we can look forward to the days gradually getting longer as we start our steady march toward the long, testing sunny days of summer. But until the snow melts and the first shoots of green arrive with spring, we have a few months to survive living off the preserved bounty of last season’s harvest.
As part of the 2019 Self Reliance Challenge, why not focus on ways to cook and enjoy healthy meals from scratch all winter long? To do so, you don’t have to only rely on canned goods – though a good supply of tomatoes is always welcome in the depth of winter. Here’s a few tips to extend your food stores and keep your family well nourished until the springtime thaw.
Get Your Vitamins
When the sun is low and fresh fruit and greens are in limited supply, you may want to round out your diet with supplements like Vitamins D and C that our bodies often lack during the winter. If you choose to buy commercially prepared supplements, be careful to read the label for any potentially toxic ingredients that, unfortunately, are common in the poorly regulated supplement industry.
Or, if you are relying on your own food storage:
- Preserved beans
- Sweet potatoes
Are all great sources of Vitamin C with beets and sweet potatoes also having a boost of antioxidants. It’s also totally worthwhile to leave room in your freezer for a supply of vitamin-packed and antioxidant-rich summer berries.
There’s nothing like tossing a small handful of frozen blueberries or blackberries into a warming bowl of winter oats or a batch of hot flapjacks to remind yourself that summer will return.
Learn to Love Storage Crops
While you may find yourself pining for fresh, summer fruit and vegetables, many crops have incredible longevity if stored correctly. Winter squash like acorn, butternut, and hubbard are called such because with their thick skins they store well into the winter. The trick to keeping these hearty, potassium-rich gourds is to store them in a cool, dark place. Root cellars are great for storage crops, but if you don’t have a proper root cellar and your basement is too damp or overheated by a furnace, stick your gourds under your bed until it’s time to make a batch of hearty soup.
Carrots also store well if packed in damp sand, or sealed in an air-tight bag in your refrigerator. Apples too can be stored for the winter if you remove any with signs of spoilage, wrap each apple individually in newspaper, and store them in a box or basket in a cool location; around 30-32 degrees fahrenheit is ideal.
Make Room for Herbs
A sunny windowsill, even in winter, can be all you need to keep a small indoor herb garden going. Basil, rosemary, sage and mint all fare well in small containers, if well tended, and their delicious addition to your winter recipes will make you glad you have them. Microgreens like alfalfa or broccoli sprouts are also a cinch to grow in a mason jar with just a little sunlight and water. They make for a very healthy, delicious snack when stacked on cream cheese and crackers. And if you plan ahead, it’s worthwhile to preserve fresh herbs at the end of the growing season. You can even freeze herbs in olive oil in ice cube trays and toss them in a pan when whipping up a stew, sauce or soup.
Yes, the winter may feel long when you’re yearning to play and dig outdoors, but with a little planning, the winter can be a wonderful time for restoration, reflection and hearty eating too. Enjoy having a break from garden chores and feast on the abundance of your hard work.
Self reliance and self sufficiency are very important in our world today so that we can be prepared for an emergency, save money, and feel confident about that we are doing our part to help reduce waste of food, and to help our family’s live a healthier life. We all need to do our part in setting goals to help improve our world and leave a legacy that we can be proud of so that our children have a safe world to live in.
What are your goals this year to help improve self reliance and self sufficiency? Please share them with us in the comment section below.