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Saving the best for later: Make a plan to preserve

The sun is shining, the air is warm – can't we just welcome the summer and forget that winter exists? No! Now is the time, when produce is becoming abundant and variety is just around the corner, to think about winter, when there will be little to choose from.

Planning what you are going to eat is a very personal thing, but if you make the commitment to try to eat locally year-round, being organized is everyone's greatest asset. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

1. Make a plan. Think about what you like to eat. Write down some things that you would like to eat in the winter. Are there particular dishes that you like to make? Are there holidays that need to be celebrated? Do you have favorite foods that you can't live without? If you make a list of vegetables that you want to be sure to store, then you will be better able to plan your weekly shopping list. If you are unfamiliar with the rhythm of your farmers' market, check out the harvest schedule at Puget Sound Fresh , which can help you judge when something is going to be available. Don't be hesitant to ask the farmers questions, also. It's the best way to learn (and to start to get connected with the people who produce your food.)

2. Learn a few new skills. Don't discount a little food project just because you've never done it before. Put canning, pickling, and dehydrating on your list of things to learn. Canning is making a comeback -- the Yew York Times had a series of articles this week on preserving, including one on Canning Do's and Don'ts and recipes for Pickled Asparagus and Sun Cooked Strawberry PreservesThe National Center for Home Food Preservation can help you find the best way to preserve foods. They have tips and detailed instructions for many types of fruits and vegetables.

3. Visit the market often. When you shop, be of two minds. Shop for your week, but also shop for your pantry. Make a pledge to preserve something each week.

4. Store food in food. Don't forget that you can use fresh ingredients to make prepared dishes, which can be frozen. If you find yourself making a delicious meal that uses fresh produce, think about if it can be frozen. Cook once, eat twice! These ready to eat meals will not only preserve the tastes of summer in a creative way, but will help you eat a healthy, local meal even on a busy night.

What's Fresh

Bainbridge Island Farmers' Market: Opens April 12, 2014
Poulsbo Farmers' Market  Saturdays: Opens April 5, 2014
Suquamish Farmers' Market: Opens April 16, 2014

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