Perpetual Food Storage (Part 1) and Chocolate Greek Yogurt with Berries
I have a confession that may surprise you. My food storage is incomplete. It’s true. I was working on it, and then we suddenly moved. I had to leave some of it behind. Then we moved four times that year. Then we bought a house. Then I was unpacking (again), canning, painting, rearranging, getting settled. I guess the canning added to my food storage, but there are so many things I still need to get. So now you know. I’m working on mine along with you, and my goal is to complete it this year.
This spring I’ve been working on something I call my perpetual food storage. We moved into our new house last fall, and it had no landscaping. I mean, our yard was still growing whatever was farmed here a few years ago. So slowly we’ve been working on it, including a series of garden beds, and an orchard. Since we plan to be here for a while, I’m growing some things that take a few years to establish, but will feed us for years to come. I’m really excited about it and want to tell you about the new things I’m trying. I want to be as self sufficient as possible, and soon I will be able to count on my perpetual food storage year after year. Plus, the way my kids devour fruits and veggies, it will also help my grocery bill long term.
Last fall we planted 10 fruit trees, including almond, plum, pluot, pear, peach, apple and cherry trees (I realize that does not total 10. We planted 2 of some things like apple and pear because they will keep fresh in a root cellar or refrigerator for several months), and this fall I’m going to add one more, a pomegranate tree. It’s called the Utah Sweet pomegranate, and it’s hardy to zone 6, so we’re going to try it. I’m going for the bush variety, which is more like a semi-dwarf size, instead of the tree that gets 30 feet tall. All of our fruit trees are semi-dwarf so they are easier to harvest and don’t take up as much space.
I’m also going to plant grapes and hardy kiwi as soon as I get home from visiting my family and build the trellises. Hardy kiwi are different than the kind you find in the grocery store. They are about the size of a very large grape, fuzzless (you eat them whole), and slightly sweeter than their hairy cousins. They are hardy to zone 4, which is good news to those of us who don’t live in a tropical climate. Each female vine can produce up to 100 pounds of fruit! I am so excited I can hardly stand it! One of the male varieties (which are necessary for pollination), actinidia kolomikta, has beautiful pink and green leaves that would be ornamental AND useful landscaping.
I planted an asparagus bed. The spears have been emerging, and I just want to bite them off right there, but I am controlling myself. They need to get established this year so I have strong, healthy plants for the next 30 years. Next year I will be able to harvest for a few weeks, and the year after that, all season. Home-grown asparagus is one of those things that is so much tastier and more tender than what you get at the grocery store. Fresh-picked is the only way to go.
I’ve never grown any berries, so we started a strawberry bed, a raspberry patch, and a blackberry patch. We might get to harvest some next summer. I went with thornless blackberries and everbearing raspberries, which someone shared with me from their backyard. The best resource I have for growing berries is a book called Successful Home Gardening by E. Gordon Wells. It focuses on gardening in the Western United States, but much of the information is universal. The other really useful thing I learned in his book was about watering needs of different fruits and vegetables, and this year I’m planning my garden based on that. He doesn’t follow organic practices, so I ignore his pesticide and fertilizer recommendations and glean what is useful to me. I’m sure there are other great resources, but that is one I already have in my library.
I can already hear you, “But I don’t have room for 10 fruit trees or any of those things!” But you do have room for some of it. And my next post will have ideas of how to make the most of the space you have.
Now For the Food!
I have been loving all of the fresh berries that are in season right now. I have been eating strawberries with everything I can think of including strawberry poppy seed salad, smoothies, strawberry shortcake, fresh with whipped cream, fresh all by themselves, in a box, with a fox, on a train, in the rain. I recently found a recipe for chocolate yogurt with fresh berries at perpetuitystyle, and it is oh. so. delicious. It tastes like dessert and is extremely satisfying for the chocolate cravings. I eat it for breakfast or a snack. I haven’t tried it with frozen berries yet, but that may have to do when the fresh ones are out of season, because I can’t wait the whole winter to eat it again. You have to try this. Feel free to experiment with proportions until it tastes perfect to you. My version is different than the original version I found. At home I used the yogurt I make. We are on a trip right now, so I have been buying Greek yogurt to make this, and I prefer it. When I get home I’m going to try a new yogurt culture to get a flavor similar to the Fage yogurt.
Chocolate Yogurt with Berries
1 cup Fage Greek yogurt (I have tried several brands, and this is definitely my favorite. It is so smooth and dreamy)
3/4-1 tbsp cocoa powder (I like mine very chocolately)
Splash of vanilla
7 drops NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia
Fruit of your choice. Anything that tastes good with chocolate. I like strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas, whatever is in season.
Mix the first four ingredients in a bowl, making sure to get all the clumps of cocoa. Top with fresh fruit and savor!
*Heather also told me she subs a few sprinkles of cinnamon for the chocolate and eats it with apples. That is another delicious variation. I made the cinnamon version with peaches for breakfast this morning and it was so fresh and light on a summer day. Thank goodness for the peaches I canned, so I can have the best peach flavor all year long and enjoy my new favorite yogurt!