With the holidays approaching, the City Green staff dedicated a day to the art of urban homesteading by preserving fruits and vegetables left over from our seasonal harvests. As temperatures continue to drop, it may be too cold even for the hardy kale to survive. By preserving the harvest through canning, blanching and jam making, among many other techniques, it is possible to enjoy these organic, locally grown vegetables during the winter. While there is the convenience of shopping for these products at the local supermarket year-round, homesteading can provide a bit of self-empowerment and is another way to support local food systems.
Whether you want to make a simple DIY gift for a loved one or are looking for a hands-on activity to do with your friends and family, homesteading is a great pastime for the holidays.
Here are two homesteading activities we completed last Wednesday. Enjoy and please feel free to share any of your homesteading techniques!
City Green had an astounding 20 pounds of strawberries left over from our June harvest. What better way to savor them during the winter than by making jam! If you have frozen (or even fresh) strawberries, here’s an easy way to turn it into jam just by using four ingredients. For storage, you will simply need freshly sterilized ball jars. Keep in mind though - there are as many ways to make jam as there are jam-makers.
- 2 pounds of strawberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1 pouch of liquid fruit pectin
- 7 cups of white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
- 4 tablespoons of lemon juice
- Add the strawberries and pectin to a large saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
- Add sugar and return to a rolling boil, skimming off the foam as it forms. Allow to boil for 10-15 minutes over low heat until the berries soften and the mixture has thickened.
- Remove from heat and skim off any remaining foam.
- Carefully ladle your jam into sterilized ball jars leaving ¼ inch of space. Wipe the rims and close jar tightly.
City Green has been lucky to have a constant supply of our hardy greens, kale and spinach – harvested fresh from our farm. Just this week, staff harvested the greens and prepped them for some urban homesteading fun. If you have any fresh greens leftover from your holiday shopping, we encourage you to try blanching and freezing them!
- Kale or any other hardy green (i.e. spinach, turnip greens, collard greens, broccoli greens)
- Remove stem from kale using knife.
- Wash and spin kale.
- Add kale to boiling pot of water for three minutes and prepare ice bath in a large bowl.
- Using tongs, transfer kale from pot to the ice bath. Allow to sit for three minutes.
- Remove kale from ice bath and spin or towel dry.
Insert into freezer bags. Store in freezer until
ready to savor.