What We Eat: winter food supplies (freezer)

We started the What We Eat series to chronicle the possibilities in fresh local foods year-round, and to dispel the stereotype that local foods mean boring, limited options, especially in winter. Along with the weekly meal reports, I also want to chronicle the work that it does take to eat locally, including preserving food ahead of time and relying on it later in the year. With that in mind, here’s a look at what’s in our freezer for the upcoming winter months, all of which we worked to preserve during the growing season. Now, even in the depths of winter, we have little to no need for grocery stores.

November is pretty much the transition into eating stored rather than fresh food. Other than a few items like leeks and kale that will last fresh outdoors all winter, we’re about to start relying mostly on our own stocks and the items we purchase in bulk that we can’t grow (like some beans, wheat flour, rice, etc.)

Freezer contents arranged outside during a cold morning while defrosting the freezer

I recently defrosted the chest freezer, organizing and cataloguing its contents in the meantime. Here’s what we’ve put up for the winter, all of it either ours (most meats, all produce & meals) or locally-sourced (most of the fruit). All meals noted are frozen leftovers from earlier in the year that we put up for later use on busy or tired nights. All amounts in quarts unless otherwise noted.

Meals/prepared:
Zucchini soup: 13
Tomato sauce: 6
Enchilada sauce: 2
Red wine marinade: 2 (1/2 pints)
Chili: 1
Ricotta: 3 (pints)
Chicken vegetable soup: 2
Greek gazpacho: 3
Adobo sauce: 3 (1/2 pints)
Green bean pesto: 2 (1/2 pints)
Spiced black-eyed peas: 1
Kale potato soup: 1
Tomato chutney: 4 (1/2 pints)

Produce/ingredients:
Wheatberries: 1 (1/2 pint)
Green beans: 15
Squash: 5
Peas: 3
Beet greens: 3
Corn: 4
Goat broth: 8
Chicken broth: 8
Greens broth: 3
Tomato juice: 2
Shredded zuke: 2
Roasted tomatoes: 5
Okra: 3 (gallon bags)
Basil cubes: 2
Basil: 1 (1/2 pint)
Spinach: 9 (1/2 pints)
Tat soi: 9 (1/2 pints)

Fruit:
Black raspberries: 5
Peaches: 3
Strawberry ice: 4
Cherry pie filling: 3
Red raspberries: 1
Blueberries: 12
Strawberries: 13
Blueberry sauce: 9 (1/2 pints)

Meat:
Chickens (whole): 7 , with 2 more to go
Goat meat: 40 lbs with another kid to go
Venison: to be determined

6 thoughts on “What We Eat: winter food supplies (freezer)

  1. Good stuff, Eric. I’ve started in on my limited version of this as well. Last night’s dinner was minestrone soup and sauteed green beans with guanciale. The minestrone I’d made and frozen in September when veggies were exploding everywhere. The green beans I’d blanched and frozen. Just thawed them out and tossed them with the rendered “bacon,” not bad.Tonight it’s stir fry, which I made last month and frozen…we’ll see how that goes.Any chance on a more detailed post regarding the kid-butchering? Might have been a necessary evil you don’t feel like revisiting.

  2. No, I don’t mind revisiting, though I don’t have any photos (too hard to clean off the camera). What do you want to know? Have you ever butchered before? Want to? If so, let me know and I bet we can arrange something.

  3. I have not, no. I’ve always contended that it’s intellectually dishonest to eat meat and never actually kill it. Still, I have no idea how I would react. But yes, I would be interested in participating, even if I cannot guarantee I won’t freak out and try to adopt the little guy. ;-)So, keep me in mind sometime.

  4. Little girl, at least this next one. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Joel Salatin, something along the lines of “it’s not supposed to be fun. If it is, you’re doing it too much”. Point being that the poor schmucks standing in a disassembly line for hours making the same cut every 15 seconds get desensitized and don’t care. A local on-farm butchering means something because you knew the animal. That twinge you feel is a good thing, in my view. It means you respect where the meat is coming from and are not abusing the priviledge of having it.Less philosophically, Joanna and I have been talking about joining forces with you next year for a full-goat roast. Freshly butchered milk-fed kid, stuck on a spit Moroccan-style, roasted all day over a cedar fire with lots of farm-fresh complements…make a festival out of it for an invited crowd. You’re more knowledgeable about meat and more adventurous, we’ve got the animal and the space. Sound like fun?

  5. Agreed, more hesitation to end life would probably be a good thing to have in the world. As for a goat-roasting, I’m down…that sounds awesome. How big of a kid are we talking here? I think most recipes are going to suggest something in the 10-15 pound range. Your post says you have 40 lbs of goat meat saved up, but that may have been from more than one animal.And in the 10-15 lb range I think you’d only need to roast it for a couple of hours or so. Regardless, that sounds like a great time.

  6. Size depends on time of year. If we’re going to do it in the spring, yeah, it’s a small animal. By fall, they’re in the 80-100lb range (body weight). Our current meat stash is from two animals, an adult and a kid. The adult generated about 40lb of meat, though we’ve given almost half away to friends because it’s too much for us and they like it too. The kid generated over 20lb, which is not much for his size but these are dairy breeds rather than meat breeds and so are lower on the meat/body weight ratio. The ribs, for example, are rather pathetic. So yeah, if it’s a spring event it’ll be a small animal and an afternoon would probably be enough. If it’s a fall event we’re talking a young but nearly full-size animal. Summer is right out due to warm conditions.My plan would be to slaughter the previous day and get the carcass cleaned and ready, then hang/chill it overnight to be ready for the next day’s big event. So, say, slaughter on Friday and yummy on Saturday. Keep it in your mind and we can work on plans.