Summer is like a celebration of food that is one big crescendo leading up to the finale of Fall’s harvest. Juicy tomatoes and peaches, cooling cucumbers, delicate summer squash and zesty pesto make way for an abundance of fruits and vegetables that strengthen and boost our immune function, from dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, to winter squashes, crispy apples and pears, and a variety of roots and tubers.
As I honor this equinox, I can feel the shift from the celebration of summer to the work of Fall and the focus on strengthening and preserving that lies ahead. While I have memories of canning beets and beans, taking all day to sterilize jars, prepare ingredients, seal containers and then listen (and pray) for the pop made by the lid sealing, rarely is that my approach these days. Preserving can come in many forms, but my preference is always for methods that retain as much of the nutritional value of the foods as possible, while requiring the least amount of effort.
In practice, that looks like fresh herbs and hot peppers hanging to dry in my kitchen to eventually be stored in mason jars. Beets, carrots, cabbage and green beans are put up to lacto-ferment on my countertops until they reach the point of sour and yet crisp. The dehydrator hums day and night, drying tomatoes, kale and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to be stored for winter (as long as we can keep from devouring them as soon as they are done).
These are just a few of the chores that make fall feel like a sprint to the finish…a rush to beat the first frost. Sometimes I accomplish them all, other times just a few. As with eating clean and living well in general, the goal is not to do it all, but rather to make healthy choices and do the best you can. Here is a list to help you do just that this fall:
1. Flash freeze berries and vegetables.
2. Dehydrate tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potatoes, herbs, apples, pears, kale…
3. Hang herbs and peppers to dry.
4. Start a compost pile or turn your current pile and spread useable compost on garden.
5. Plant fall crops like salad greens, arugula, spinach and radishes.
6. Transfer delicate herbs like rosemary into pots to grow indoors through winter.
7. Wrap unripe tomatoes in newspaper or store in bucket with sawdust to ripen and preserve.
8. Ferment cabbages, beets, carrots, greenbeans…
9. Plant garlic.
10. Plant cover crop.
11. Make medicinals like fire cider, elixirs and infusions.
12. Mulch garden with fallen leaves.
13. Carve a pumpkin and move indoors for winter.
This is a small sample of my activities for the upcoming season and I hope you’ll share the traditions and activities that make fall nourishing and memorable for you, too!
Eat clean and live well!