“Putting things bye” is a good practice at the beginning of the year. In the tradition of the Auld Lang Syne we raise the cup of friendship and put emotional frailties, bad feelings and interpersonal failures behind us and move into the new year unburdened with the baggage of ill will.
“Putting things bye” also means stocking the larder for the hardships of winter. In the days before refrigeration cold cellars were larded with potatoes, beets, cabbages, onions and other root stock. Fresh fruits and vegetables were canned, dried or preserved in sugar. Meat was smoked, brined or otherwise cured. This practice has gone the way of the horse and buggy for the most part. We rely on industrially prepared foods that have been put up with chemical preservatives, flash freezing or tinned to mushy tastelessness. Of the three options flash freezing is the most amenable. Frozen produce is picked at peak season and quickly put up. I.Q.F., individually quick frozen fruits are much preferable to those packed in solid blocks then frozen in their packaging.
I am in the habit of putting things bye in the fall. I make sauces, salsas, pesto, jellies and jams and put them up in pressure prepared ball jars or in freezer bags.
My sister used to devote her entire side yard to a healthy crop of basil. All of the mint plants grow extremely well in our Missouri climate. In the fall we would have a pesto making party. You can freeze the fresh pesto in ice cube trays then put the frozen cubes into freezer bags for convenient use or flatten out the paste in the freeze bag and have it solidify into a thin brick that you simply crack off pieces to use in a pinch. You can also use this process for all your fresh herbs, just add a little water to the processor and freeze the slurry paste into cubes.
My old neighbor at the lake loves garden fresh tomatoes. He says you can dunk them in hot water, peel them then put them on a baking sheet straight into the freezer. When they have solidified put them into freezer bags. He swears they taste good as fresh in the middle of winter.
I usually make all my fall tomatoes into Picante sauce or Marinara sauce. For the salsa peel and seed the tomatoes put them on a baking sheet along with quartered onions, jalapeno peppers and unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast in the oven until the pepper skins begin to blacken then take out of the oven and cool. Clean the skins off the peppers and squeeze the garlic paste out of the cloves (wear gloves for these procedures). Now put everything into a food processor and pulse. Do several batches then reheat in a large pot before putting up. I put bye quarts and pints. I give the pints as Christmas gifts and keep the quarts in my basement fridge. I also make a killer habanero hot sauce and gift them to the brave of heart.
The secret of putting things bye is to clean out your freezer. Get rid of all the frozen crap you buy at the store (ice cream, T.V. dinners, toaster waffles and excess ice cube trays) and make room for fresh items. I don’t have an industrial sized unit, just two regular sized fridges. The one in the basement is only for ball jars and frozen packages. I also keep the basement real cool in the winter. I have shelving to store ball jars of pickled cucumber, beets, okra, cauliflower and fresh green beans.
Liquid items can be frozen in stout plastic jars, remember to leave breathing space so the expanding liquid does not split the plastic during the cooling process. I cook a lot of stir fry meals. I make a gallon recipe of master sauce and put it bye in quart plastics in the freezer, then always keep a quart thawed in the fridge. At the time of cooking a good master sauce can be ameliorated into sweet/sour, hot/sour, citrus flavored, schezuan or hunan flavored sauces.
Master Sauce: (one quart)
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup rich chicken stock (preferably home made)
1 cup beef stock (preferably home made)
one small hand of ginger sliced
6 cloves garlic sliced
1 T. Vietnamese chili paste
1 T. molasses
1 T. brown sugar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 t. five spice powder
Bring to the boil and simmer 30 minutes, cool and strain then put into plastic for the freezer or ball jars for the fridge. Adjust the flavor and thicken with a corn starch slurry upon use.