Category Archives: Prudent Pantry

Yes, our house is on the market and yes I still have a producing vegetable garden! After all I have no idea how long it will take to sell our home and I still believe in having a well-stocked pantry. Plus, I don’t want any of the harvest to go to waste! So how do I preserve our harvest? Here are a few ways.

Garlic: I just pulled our garlic and it is currently drying for a few days before I make garlic braids. I grow just enough to get us through until next summer!Garlic braids

Zucchini – There are many ways to use up zucchini. Two favorite ways are;

Zucchini CakeChocolate Zucchini Cake

Zucchini RelishZucchini Relish

Tomatoes – I have already been enjoying the gold cherry tomatoes, which haven’t made it up to the house yet! When we have too many to eat I often will dehydrate the cherry tomatoes. I also make a terrific Tomato Basil Sauce and an amazing Salsa. Another favorite is my Oven Roasted Pizza Sauce, nothing tastes better on one of my husbands amazing pizzas!Sausage and Pepper PizzaHerbs: I often dry herbs and as a result I have an abundance of dried herbs in my pantry!fresh herbsHerbs can also be frozen and used during the winter.Freezing herbs in an ice cube tray.

Beans: I love fresh garden beans and usually we eat most everything I grow but if there is an abundance I will either can or freeze the excess.Beans for the freezer!Apples: We don’t have apple trees, but there are numerous orchards nearby. I love picking apples and every year will can up enough applesauce to see us through the winter. Homemade applesauce does not compare to the store bought version!canning, prudent pantry

Leeks: I don’t grow leeks every year but when I do they usually do very well in our garden. There are several ways I preserve the leeks, either by dehydrating or by freezing.freezing, prudent living

Kale: Kale can also be preserved much like the leeks.greens, freezing, prudent living

Peppers: If you have excess peppers in your garden or even if you don’t you can buy them during the summer months for much cheaper than in the winter. Buy them now and freeze them to enjoy this winter!prudent living

In addition to these methods of preserving the harvest I also do a lot of canning, both with a water bath and a pressure cooker. Check out my Top 20 Canning Posts for more ideas.rhubarb, cannin

Whether you use your pantry or your freezer take advantage of cheaper prices during the summer months and preserve the harvest!

It’s hard to have a house on the market as I am really trying to eat from the pantry so I don’t have to move it all. At the same time it could take several years for us to sell out home and I don’t want any of that harvest to go to waste! Best way to avoid waste is to preserve the harvest! What are your favorite ways to preserve your harvest?Autumn Harvest

What are compotes you may ask? Compotes are fresh or dried fruits slowly cooked in sugar syrup to retain their shape. They frequently contain wine or liqueur. Remember all those sour cherries I picked last week? I have a double batch of Sour Cherry Cordial sitting on our counter and I also wanted to try making Cherry Compote. The suggested uses were serving it over a slice of cheesecake or pound cake. Sounded good to me! Well the recipe was so delicious I immediately made a second batch. We’ll be lucky if this lasts until the winter!Cherry Compote

Hopefully you can find an orchard near you where you can pick sour cherries!

Cherry Compote

1 cup dry red wine
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
4 cups fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp Sour Cherry Cordial or Kirsch

Before you start prepare some jars for canning using a water bath method.

Place the wine, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high het, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cherries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.Cherry Compote

Remove hot jars from your canner. Remove the cherries from the liquid with a slotted spoon and pack into the jars. Continue simmering the syrup until it is reduced to 2/3 cup.Cherry Compote

Stir together the cornstarch and water and stir into the syrup. Return to a boil and boil gently for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the cordial.

Pour the syrup over the cherries to within ½ inch of the rim. Place jar lids on and process 15 minutes for half pint jars and 20 minutes for pint jars.

Makes exactly three ½ pints.

Delicious served over vanilla ice cream!Cherry Compote

 

Sour cherries grow in Vermont but their season is short, sometimes only two weeks long! If we have an unusually cold spring there might not be any sour cherries. Last Friday my husband and I decided to go on an adventure and find some elusive sour cherries to pick!sour cherries

There was an orchard on the Vermont – New York border, a little more than an hour away that had sour cherries, so off we went!sour cherries

It was a cloudy cool day and the grass was wet from the night’s rain but the cherries were indeed abundant and easy to pick. With my husband and I picking we managed to pick 13 pounds of cherries in a little over an hour! They were absolutely beautiful!sour cherries

You may ask what I’m going to do with all those cherries? The first thing to do was to pit them. The folks at the orchard said not to waste my money on a cherry picker but to just use a paper clip. A little tedious but easy and I put some music on and pitted away!sour cherries

Next I mixed up a batch of my wonderful Sour Cherry Cordial. So easy to make and it is the essence of summer! You must be patient as it takes four months before you can enjoy it. However, it is the perfect drink to enjoy in the middle of winter sitting in front of the wood stove! It’s been years since I made a batch so I doubled the recipe. After all it does make a nice gift when placed in a fancy bottle!

Sour Cherry Cordial

2 ½ pounds of sour cherries
3 cups vodka
3 cups of sugar

Put the vodka and washed, crushed cherries (without stems) in a large container.sour cherries cordial

Let the cherry vodka mix sit in a cool dark place for one month. Shake occasionally.sour cherries cordial

After a month, add the sugar, and let sit another month, shaking when you think of it. Strain, bottle, and let age for four months.

Drink as an aperitif, or digestif, chilled or warm, in small glasses. We enjoy it over crushed ice.

As I sip the cordial I will remember our outing and the warm sunny days of picking sour cherries in the orchard.cordial, prudent pantry, prudent living

I did not use all 13 pounds of cherries in the cordial, I also have two bags of pitted cherries to use for cherry compote and/or a pie! Plus I gave my neighbor two pounds and in exchange she is going to give me a jar of her delicious cherry blueberry jam!

We’ve all got our favorite herbs and spices, but some ingredients are basics. For many, sugar starts off the day in your tea or coffee. Sugar is also a key ingredient in many treats. Salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar are also non-negotiable. As for condiments, many can be made at home and they’ll most likely taste better that way. A few recipes will get you started, but if you’re curious, head to the store and take a look at the labels on items like specialty dips, taco seasoning and cocktail sauce. You might be surprised to learn you have all the necessary ingredients at home.

Here is a list of the basic pantry items:
Sugar
Salt
Peppercorns
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Vinegar
Herbs and spices you use the most
Tea and/or coffee

My favorite Taco Seasoning recipe.
1 Tbsp chili powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepperKeep your red spices in the freezer for maximum freshness.

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce is another easy sauce to whip up at home. I love shrimp in any form and once you try this homemade shrimp cocktail sauce you will never buy it in a bottle again! Best news is that you can make it up to a week ahead and store in your refrigerator. Makes enough for about 8-10 servings.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 to 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined.

Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and add more horseradish or any of the other ingredients to suite your taste. When you’re happy with the sauce, transfer it to a small serving bowl.

Cook the shrimp by poaching them in boiling water, pan-frying them on the stove, or roasting them in the oven until opaque. Arrange the shrimp around the cocktail sauce and serve hot or cold. Delicious!shrimp cocktail

Homemade salad dressing is another great way to use the ingredients you have on hand. This is my favorite balsamic vinaigrette that only has five ingredients! Store the leftovers in the refrigerator and if the dressing thickens just bring to room temperature before serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure maple syrup
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 Tbsp olive oil

Combine the vinegar, lemon juice and maple syrup in a bowl. Add the mustard and then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Perfect on any salad!Salad dressing

You have all seen pictures of my pantry. When we built our house we  designed the pantry space in an unheated corner of our basement. We then finished it by putting in shelves and an airtight door. The pantry never gets warmer than about 55 degrees in the heat of the summer and the rest of the year stays quite cold. I am really going to miss having such a wonderful pantry. However, since it is just now my husband and I, when we do sell our home and move we can plan to have a much smaller pantry!prudent living,

If money weren’t an issue of course we could just have the pantry packed up and moved as is! However, does it really make sense to move everything across country? Of course not! Instead we will take some steps to minimize what we will actually be moving.

Now we haven’t sold our house yet or even had one offer but we are eating from the pantry and trying to use up as much as we can. When the day comes that we have an offer and have an actual closing date we will be doing our best to avoid the grocery store and instead use up everything we can from the pantry and our kitchen cupboards. I imagine those meals might get rather interesting! We can budget grocery  costs into our moving budget so we can do some restocking once we move into our new home.pantry, prudent pantry, prudent livingI mentioned two weeks ago that I was focusing on de-cluttering. This applies to the party as well! I am sorting through all the home canned goods and canned goods and checking for expiration dates. If there are items we haven’t used in a while chances are we won’t be using them in the near future. I have a box for expired items and another box for items to donate to the local food shelf.Food Shelf donations

Some of the pantry items that I have for longer-term storage such as wheat berries will probably be given away. The cost of our move will be based on the weight plus the distance we are moving. Since we are planning to move from the east coast to the west coast it will be an expensive move and we need to eliminate as much weight as possible.wheat berries

Normally I would be preserving the harvest from our garden. This year will be a different year for me as there is no point in stocking jars of canned goods and then having to move them. Instead we will enjoy the fresh vegetables out of the garden, share some with our neighbors and hold a few yard sales to sell some of the many canning jars I have.canning jars

Moving doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With some planning and strategic eating we should be able to downsize our pantry, pack up what’s left and move across country where I will then start a new pantry!

I have written posts before about the Pantry Challenge. In anticipation of an eventual move I have challenged myself to use up whatever we can from our well-stocked pantry! We have a chest freezer in our garage. I often purchase a ¼ cow from a neighbor as well as meat birds and one turkey a year. Since we hope to be moving sooner than later my goal is to use up everything that is in the chest freezer and then sell the freezer.There's room in the freezer!

It will be strange because usually my focus is on stocking the freezer to get us through the upcoming year. This has helped us numerous times with unexpected company and during times when my husband has been unemployed.

The first thing I did was to empty the freezer and take an inventory of what we actually have on hand. Much to my surprise there is an abundance of frozen blueberries and strawberries. This will actually help us this year as my strawberry bed was quite old and last year I tore it up. The strawberries will not be replanted this year so at least we will have frozen berries to enjoy.Strawberries for the freezerThe last beef that we purchased was a little over a year ago and we’ve done pretty well at using the meat up. I have a few steaks and several pounds of ground beef. We will have no problem using it up this summer. I also have two whole chickens that were purchased in the fall. Our neighbors raise the most delicious meat birds and these will also be eaten in the near future.chicken, beer can chciken

I imagine that I should be able to empty the freezer by early summer, the perfect time to list it for sale so someone else can fill it for the upcoming winter.

Our pantry will be another story! I have jars of dried beans and wheat berries for long-term storage. I’m not quite sure what to do with those items. I do not think we will be able to consume everything before we move even if it takes a year to sell our home! I guess the topic of moving a well-stocked pantry will have to be another blog post!storage, pantries, home canningWe are using up the various canned goods such as salsa, tomato sauce and chicken and beef broth.Chicken broth for the pantry. I find it very interesting to switch my thinking from always having a well-stocked pantry to now using up what is in the pantry to prepare for a move! Have you ever made a big move? What did you do with your pantry items?

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