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self sufficient means that we eat seasonally, fresh and local. All seasons has something new and delicious to offer.
Self sustainable living in summer is easy with so many amazing choices available.
Summer is the most rewarding time in the garden with the biggest variety of vegetables to consume.
This is when all the hard work of being self sufficient are paying off.
We can enjoy a wide range of fresh home grown vegetables everyday.
It’s still a bit of upkeep to do in the garden. Tomatoes need trimming, weeding, harvesting crop before it goes woody or to seed. Then replanting for a late crop.
If there is too much of a crop and we can’t consume it all before it goes bad then I think of ways to preserve them for winter when not much fresh vegetables are available.
For more information on storing and preserving food click here
Ways to preserve vegetables
I freeze as much as possible when I have excess of it. That way I can enjoy homegrown vegetables in winter when it’s not much fresh vegetables growing.
Broccoli, beans, cauliflower, snow peas, peas and zucchini all freeze very well. Even cherry tomatoes freeze well. Frozen cherry tomatoes are great for sauces and stews
Cherry tomatoes and zucchini I freeze raw and put in freezer bags. All the other veg I mentioned I quickly blanch before freezing them. These are very handy to have in winter and reheat very well.
Dill also freezes well. Other herbs like parsley, basil or rocket I make into pesto or other pastes. That way I can keep them in a jar for months and use a spoon when needed. Coriander I make into a green salsa that can be jarred or frozen. Great as an accompaniment to a BBQ or as salsa for tacos, fajitas and burritos.
Its important when becoming self sufficient to be able to store, freeze and preserve different foods when there is excess of it.
That’s what fills the gap in the low harvest periods
I also tend to barter my vegetables with friends who have excess of a different crop to me. That way we don’t get bored of eating the same thing every day.
Harvest, drying and storing garlic
In the middle of summer, it’s also time to harvest clean and hang garlic. The general rule is to harvest it around 6 months after it was planted and it should be planted in winter and harvested in summer.
We grow a big crop of garlic
around 1000 head so the harvest is a fairly big job. Then we need to look after it so it lasts us until next year so we never have to buy garlic.
If you have the space to plant big crops of things that can be stored for a long time. That is the best step towards being more self sufficient
The garlic should be harvested when the soil it grows in is really dry to prevent them from going moldy when in storage. You can read my full garlic growing guide here
Cleaning and drying garlic after harvest.
After the garlic has been harvested,
we leave it to dry in crates for a few days to a week somewhere shady with airflow so the dirt on the outside is really dry and crumbles or falls off easily.
Then I brush the outside clean with a nail brush and cut the long, thin string like roots off so they are really short.
I hang them in bunches upside down from the green stalks for a couple of weeks until the green stalks are totally dried.
Then I can cut the stalks off to really short stumps and store the garlic in a cool, dark, breezy spot and use as needed. It keeps really well for about 6 months like this.
The rest of the garlic I turn into puree and freeze it.
I just peel and chop it fine in the food processor with enough olive oil to cover it all.
Pour the chopped garlic in zip lock bags and freeze it in small to medium size batches. That way I can just defrost a bag at a time and use a spoonful in the cooking when needed.
I also mix some of the pureed garlic with soft butter and chopped parsley. Roll it in cling film like a log then freeze the butter log. Then I have garlic butter available when I need it.
Something I use a lot of when I have it ready.
The first 6 months of the year I use fresh garlic in my cooking and the last 6 months of the year I use garlic puree or garlic butter.
Self-reliant living includes what and how we eat. There are several different options when it comes to sourcing our food ingredients. Foraging and gathering your own wild plants to consume is one of the most natural thing we can do and great for self sustainable living. Many plants that grow wild are highly nutritious with medicinal benefits and just more healthy.
Do research and find out what wild foods are available where you are.
Some of my best childhood memories involves foraging and gathering food with my family and I love creating the same experiences for my children. Many wild plants are not ready to pick until autumn. The main wild plants that I forage for in summer in New Zealand are watercress, stinging nettle and blackberries
Watercress can be found in many freshwater creeks in New Zealand.
The bright green leaves are lovely, peppery and fresh. They will add a nice flavor burst to the meal as well as a nutrition boost. Watercress is classified as a super food. It is high in antioxidant and pairs well with any wild meat or seafood.
There are plenty of stinging nettles in the paddocks in summer that can be made into delicious soups, tarts or sauces.
They can also be blanched and frozen then easily added to a soup or pasta dish. (Stinging nettle is extremely nutritious and tasty) so I love using them.
Try my recipe for crumbed fish with creamed nettles
Blackberry is a scrub weed and can be found growing wild in paddocks, gardens and forests in many parts of New Zealand.
It’s probably the most delicious weed you can eat. I’m lucky to have a few scrubs growing on my property.
Blackberries are great to pick in late summer and autumn. Delicious on their own and can easily be made in to excellent desserts and baking. They freeze really well.
Read more about gathering wild food here
Fishing and harvesting Seafood
Summer is the busiest time for fishing and harvesting seafood from the beach.
Catch and cook fish is a great step towards a self sustainable living
The weather is good and the shellfish is in it’s prime condition. Read my seafood harvest guide here
Calmer seas and warmer weather brings more diving opportunities. Summer is the season where I dive and Spearfish the most. Fish and seafood dishes are on the menu much more frequently.
Read more on my fishing for food page
The best thing with self sustainable living is all the amazing delicacies that we get to eat all year around. Each season has something fresh and exiting to bring. However summer is hard to beat with all the amazing choices.
Check out the other seasons and what they bring below
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