Each year in September is Utah Eat Local Week which is meant to highlight all the great local agricultural (and other) products and inspire people to eat locally grown and produced foods. This year, when Eat Local Week rolled around, I had just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which chronicles a year where her family tried to eat as local as possible. I don’t know that I’ll ever be quite that ambitious (or have enough land to grow that much food on), but I do like the idea of growing your own food.

Besides the fact that I just like to grow things, I think the best part about growing your own food is that it just tastes better. You can pick it at the height of ripeness, and nothing beats eating a tomato right off the vine or a freshly pulled carrot. One of the downsides to growing your own food is that the perfect harvest time is so short-lived. Especially in colder climes. We try to cram in as many tomato sandwiches and corn on the cob as we can into August and September because we know it will be another year before we can enjoy them again.

Luckily I was raised in a house where I learned that a lot of that late-summer bounty can actually be saved for later through canning or freezing. Maybe it’s not quite in it’s garden-fresh form, but you can keep eating local long past the last day of garden-fresh tomatoes and zucchini.

So this past September I got busy.

Peaches were made into freezer jam (and sliced to be frozen for future pies).

peaches, jam, freezer jam

Making peach freezer jam – a quick and easy way to preserve that yummy peach flavor.

Tomatoes were bottled whole and as juice to be used in sauces and soups.

So many tomatoes! But bottling them whole, or as juice, doesn't take too long and I can enjoy using them in sauces and soups throughout the winter.

So many tomatoes! But bottling them whole, or as juice, doesn’t take too long and I can enjoy using them in sauces and soups throughout the winter.

And the apples. Oh, the apples. So. Many. Apples. We sauced them, we dried them, and we pressed them into cider.

The hardest part about drying apples is the peeling, coring, and slicing. I don't think I would do it without the handy peeler-corer-slicer machine I borrowed from my mom.

The hardest part about drying apples is the peeling, coring, and slicing. I don’t think I would do it without the handy peeler-corer-slicer machine I borrowed from my mom.

 

Another handy kitchen item is this food mill - it made making tomato juice and applesauce much much easier.

Another handy kitchen item is this food mill – it made making tomato juice and applesauce much much easier.

 

Our new (future) neighbors have quite the set-up for making cider. Nothing quite like freshly pressed apple cider on a fall evening.

Our new (future) neighbors have quite the set-up for making cider. Nothing quite like freshly pressed apple cider on a fall evening.

And the best thing about apples is that it is still apple season. I can still pick them fresh off the tree (at least for a couple days longer), and I can keep them in my fridge for a while yet for eating. Or for making in to pie. Next week I’ll share my absolute favorite apple pie recipe, so stay tuned.