Storing Solar Energy, in Mason Jars!

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Store & Capture Energy : A Permaculture Principle

It dawned on me the other day, as I was digging around my pantry for some yellow pickled beets, that my pantry is full of stored solar energy. The foods in those jars are a harvest of sun power delivered to my veggies and herb, stored and waiting to deliver their vital nutrients to us on a cloudy winter day. A taste of the summer sunshine and abundant harvest.

Back in the summer I made the following commitment in an earlier blog and I am still striving to follow it each day;

“The garden is EXPLODING which is wonderful, I am still fearful I have not planted enough food, but I feel this way every year, and this garden is by FAR the largest under my belt. I am trying to follow a new mantra these days to do one thing daily which adds to our food shed. Inspired by the novel Independence Days by Sharon Astyk “ a guide to sustainable food storage and preservation” where I will attempt to do one of these things each day: Plant Something, Harvest Something, Preserve Something, Waste Not, Cook Something New, Manage my Reserves, Work on my Local Food System. And I will add out of my own permaculture ethic BUILD SOIL to this list. Some of these things (especially the later half) I already strive for most days, or on any given opportunity… but planting and harvesting and preserving are my current challenges. Newly inspired by this great read Mia and I starting harvest huge bushels of Mint from our bog, which we have since dried and jarred…”

In an attempt to be forward thinking for this seasons crops and to take on the wheat intolerances in my family I am considering many different broadcast crops right now: Quinoa, Amaranth, Millet, Barley, and Oats, along with corn which I have a local hardy variety of already. So I am experimenting most days with using these grains in as many forms as I can, to determine how useful they will be for us both as primary cooked grains and as ground flours. Millet in it’s cooked form is new to me, I have baked with millet flour before, but the other night I cooked some in a simple home made chicken broth, with the addition of my tequila sunrise spice blend. It was just ok as a warm grain, but I knew it would be amazing in a cold salad, and as it turned out this fiery millet was the perfect addition to a black bean and corn soup, it was a beans and rice of sorts, ad it was lovely.

Also on the allergy front my partner is no longer able to eat nightshade veggies (potato, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc…) So I am turning to other hearty root crops and playing with how well I can fit them into our meals. Last night I made a rich hearty country stew with all local veg, dried herbs from my garden and some beef stew meat we butchered ourselves. Instead of potatoes, I turned to turnips, and parsnips, along with carrots and it was lovely. I don’t think anyone missed the potatoes. I served it with a locally made rye sourdough bread made using local grains.  I think I can pass up growing potatoes, but there is no way I am giving up growing my own little tomato horde!

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