Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Make a Food Preservation Spreadsheet

Summer is in full swing now, and that means I'm doing lots of food preservation!  Since the preserved foods are starting to add up, I thought a spreadsheet was in order (really, I'm always looking for another excuse to make a spreadsheet).

This spreadsheet will help me keep track of how much food is preserved and how much gets used each month.  This way I can really stretch out the food over the seasons and not end up with 15 quarts of zucchini to use come next April.  This spreadsheet would also be great to use when we get our yearly portion of beef steer; that way I would know just how much to use each month to make it last all year.

Making your own spreadsheet is easy, but I'm also happy to share the excel file with anyone who wants it.  Let me know if you'd like a copy.  You can also print this spreadsheet on Google docs (thanks to one of my readers for showing me how easy this is to use!).

What are your favorite foods to preserve?   

This post is part of Monday Mania at The Healthy Home Economist, Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade, Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet and Real Food Wednesday with Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

20 comments:

Jen said...

Hahahaha. Spreadsheets - you and my hubby jump at every opportunity to use them.

I have done this with all my meat and some of my veggies though. No fancy spreadsheet - just a few notes on what I have and how much I can use each month. It's a little annoying to tally up all the beef when it arrives, but knowing I have 2 gr. beef and 1 steak per month means I make sure I don't wonder what happened come June!

Good idea to do so with preserves as well!

Tara said...

How are you preserving your foods? For those shown in your photo of the spreadsheet, are those mostly dried foods? (I see that the pears are dried and the cucumbers are pickled but wondered about the others.)

Jeanette said...

I would like to have a copy of the Excel file. We are preparing for retirement and quite a bit more self-sufficiency so I can see where it would come in very handy. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Glad I'm not the only 'spreadsheet nerd'! :) I also have a separate spreadsheet for our garden to track how much plants produced and what isn't worth planting next year.

-Brittany

Tina Hale said...

Would like a copy of the spreadsheet also. Thanks.

Sarah Smith said...

Tara- mostly I freeze the foods. Cherries and strawberries freeze wonderfully. I also have been freezing bags of shredded squash (that way it is ready for making squash bread or squash cakes upon thawing). I haven't tried blanching the vegetables before freezing them yet, although I'll be experimenting with that on my next squash preservation day.

Tara said...

I have wondered about freezing berries, as I would like to go to a u-pick farm and load up on fresh, local berries and freeze them. I have been told that blueberries shouldn't be washed before freezing. Do you wash your cherries and strawberries before freezing? It would be nice to have them "ready to go" so that they can be added frozen to smoothies, muffins, etc, without any additional steps. I was also thinking about blanching just yesterday, when I read about it in a magazine; it mentioned that it stops (or slows down?) the enzyme activity, and this was recommended prior to freezing or canning, I think so they keep longer. But I was curious about that, because I thought we need to preserve the enzymes, so boiling them seems counterproductive in that regard. Your thoughts?

By the way, I know nothing about blogging, so I have no idea is this is a reasonable request or something that would be difficult...but I've noticed that some blogs have a box to check in order to be notified by email whenever a new comment is posted. Would it be possible to add something like that to your site, so that we would get email notice when you've replied, rather than having to check back?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Tara -
I did wash the strawberries from my garden, but it blows lots of dust here in the springtime (plus they needed to be picked through to cut off the bug-bitten parts anyway). We got cherries from a u-pick farm and did not wash them. I usually pit a bunch, but didn't even get that far this year. Just threw them in bags (stems and all), and it has worked out wonderfully. It is nice that the strawberries we froze are smoothie-ready, though. If you do wash them, make sure you freeze them on a plate of sheet pan first (in one layer), then move to a baggie or other sealed container. That way they won't all be stuck together.

I think blanching is more important for veggies. I don't think it is a big deal for veggies to lose the enzyme activity if they're going to be cooked upon thawing anyway. I definitely like to leave the fruits raw, though.

As for the subscription option, I looked into it before and found that (although it is not obvious) it is already available. Scroll down and look on the left side underneath the post. It says "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)". I think that should work. I've been curious about that and how well it works, so you could be my guinea pig :) Let me know if it doesn't work well, and then I could see if there is a better way. Alternatively, there is a little "subscribe by email" link right under the comment box on the right side. Unfortunately, I think this only works if you have a google account.

Tara said...

Okay, good info! So now I'm posting in order to see if the subscribe to comments feature works! :) It's a bit hard to see, so I missed it (again!) when I scrolled down to look for it at first. Regarding the other subscribe option at the top right side of the page, I see "Subscribe via Email" at the very top right - a bit above the search box. But I think that's where I subscribed to get your posts via email (in other words, this post about food preservation came to my email, as do your other blog entries). I dont' have a google account, so I don't think that section would work for the purpose of getting extra comments and replies via email.

But back to the food. Great point about blanching veggies vs. fruits, as the veggies will be cooked anyway. I'm guessing you put the cherries in the freezer "as is" in order to save time on the front end. So then when you are ready to use them, do you just thaw a portion and pit them and use them in the thawed state? I guess I'm still thinking it would be nice to have them ready to use straight out of the freezer. I don't suppose there is any reason why it would be a problem to wash them up front, right? Maybe it's better to let them dry off a bit before freezing, but after that I would think it should be fine. I guess I'll know for sure once I try it!

Tara said...

Hmm...I just subscribed to the comments using "Live Bookmarks" but frankly I have no idea what that is! Ha! The options are My Yahoo, google account, etc - but not the option to receive via email. Maybe I can figure out the Live Bookmarks thing!

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Tara,
Thanks for testing it for me. I think the "subscribe by email" link below the comment box is only visible if you are logged into a google account (totally lame, I know). Hmmm, I still wish I could find a way for anyone to e-mail subscribe to comments. Maybe I can figure that out somehow.

Yes, I was trying to save time on the front end by freezing the cherries as-is. I don't bake with them or anything anyway (they are sweet cherries, not tart pie cherries). They are from a no-spray orchard, so they don't need to be washed anyway (we eat them straight off the tree while picking, so why not eat them at home without washing too?). Since they were not wet when I froze them, I can easily just reach into a baggie and pull out a handful anytime I need some (they're not stuck together). And then I just pull the stems off and throw then straight into a bowl to be eaten (either plain or with some yogurt on top). We pit them in our mouths as we go. And they taste fabulous while still half-frozen.

dailydialect said...

I love a copy of the preserving spreadsheet! Thanks!

Tara said...

Hi Sarah,
I guess the Live Bookmarks thing isn't doing me any good, since I don't know what it is! My strategy for getting the comments is to just leave the tab open in my browser (just leave the page open) and later coming back to it to see if there is a reply. I just came back to this page and realized you replied about a week ago! Yes, I'd be in favor of the email subscribe to comments feature. :) Thanks for the additional info about the cherries. Makes sense. I always wash stuff even if it's organic, but I don't usually have stuff right off the tree, where it hasn't been handled, fallen on the floor at the grocery store, etc. So I guess it makes sense to just freeze them right off the tree. Thanks for sharing! Had homemade goat yogurt with a chopped peach, dried coconut, and a sprinkle of walnuts today. Your idea of cherries and yogurt sounds delicious also.

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Tara,
I never could figure out the live bookmarks either. I looked around some more and still cannot find a good way for adding the e-mail subscribe to comments. Sorry, I'll keep looking.

Your peach yogurt sounds amazing.

Ariel said...

Every summer, my family and I go to a pick-your-own organic blueberry farm and every year we pick litterally 30 pounds or more of blueberries! They are so delicous fresh (we eat ourselves sick of blueberries for a few days) and frozen in smoothies, or thawed later in the year to go in my sister's fabulous (grain-free!) bluberry muffins and other baked goods. To freeze them, we spread them out on a cookie sheet and put them in out giant sub-zero freezer until they are mostly frozen, so they don't all stick together, and then we pack them quickly into bags before they can thaw, and it's back into the freezer 'til we're ready to use them!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, unpitted cherries are okay as long as you warn others that they aren't pitted before they bite into one one. Ouch!

Lanae said...

where did you go to get your cherries? Was it somewhere in Cruces or nearby?

Sarah Smith said...

Hi Lanae,
We go to a U-Pick cherry orchard in High Rolls, which is about 30 minutes this side of Cloudcroft. The cherries are usually ready around mid-to-late June. They are absolutely the best cherries, and you can eat as many as you want while you are picking. The name of the place we go is Cadwallader's. They always have lots of signs up to make it easy to find off the main road on the way to Cloudcroft. There were no cherries last year due to a late freeze, but I'm hoping there will be some this year...

Lanae said...

I'm so excited to hear that. I hope they have them this year, I will definitely be taking the kids! Thanks Sarah. Quick question about gardening..I doing my first garden this year. How did you chose which seeds to get,,,there are so many?

Sarah Smith said...

I like Botanical Interest brand seeds. They are non-GMO and from a small family company. They sell these at the Mountain View Market co-op, near the frozen foods section.