It’s a busy season for our food-allergic household. While fruits and veggies are naturally free of gluten and most allergens, we find that much of the grocery store produce is contaminated with corn*. So, we try to purchase as much as possible from our local farmers’ market, in addition to growing our own fruits and vegetables. That means, of course, that we need to preserve the fresh food now so we’ll have it over the winter.
The best website I’ve found to help with this is the National Center for Home Food Preservation. This comprehensive website is hosted by the University of Georgia, and is a collaborative project between universities in the Cooperative Extension System. I’ve found their information to be far more reliable and trustworthy than just reading a random blog that looks like it was made in 1980 and purports to have the secret to making apple jelly just like Grandma used to do. Those websites are fun to read for the folk wisdom they contain, but when it comes to food safety, I’ll trust Cooperative Extension instead, thank you very much.
So far this year, I’ve frozen peaches, grape juice, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and chard. I’ve canned grape jelly and applesauce, and dried tomatoes and some fruit leather, too. As the season moves on, I’ll be working on squash, more apples, and rose hips. Because this is all locally grown produce, I’m able to ask the growers directly about their food, ensuring that it is is allergen-free for my family.
Not everyone has time to grow and preserve large quantities of food like we do, but nearly everyone can take advantage of the great prices on in-season produce and put up a batch of something. Check with gardening friends, too. Someone may be more than willing to share their abundance with you. Last year, I had baskets of squash to give away. This year, I have way too much broccoli, and I’m so sick of it, I’ll give it to whomever wants it! Friends of mine had so many apples, the weight of the fruit was breaking the branches, so they were more than happy to share with us, to the tune of nearly 200 pounds of apples! (There were still many more apples on the tree!)
So if you’ve noticed that things are a little slow at the blog lately, rest assured that I haven’t been slacking. I’ll be back to posting more allergy-friendly recipes just as soon as the frosts hit, and this year’s harvest is safely stashed away.
* Produce is often coated in corn-based wax to preserve it or sprayed with corn-derived ethylene gas to help ripen it.