Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter Storage, let's do the numbers

Initial rate predictions:
Apples --5/week x 20 weeks = 100
Onions -- 4/week x 20 weeks = 80
Garlic -- 1 head/week x 20 weeks = 20 heads
Potatoes -- 4/week x 20 weeks = 80
Sweet Potatoes -- 2/week x 20 weeks = 40

I started the experiment on the first of November, with the goal of tracking through the end of March, so I'm 14 weeks in on the roughly 20 week challenge.

Apples, I wanted 100 to see us through, I only had 60. Of those, only 24 are left. So, we've used 40 apples in 14 weeks. Which puts our useage closer to 3 apples per week. This makes sense, I had jars of applesauce and plums and dried fruit that we've been eating on. Plus, we have been buying citrus fruits as some of our favorites come into season from FL and TX. If we keep this pace, we could last the last 6 weeks of the experiment. Usage rates aside, the apples that remain are starting to get soft and wrinkly. Dave has trouble overcoming an aversion to apples that look wrinkly. (Whether this aversion is from a lifetime of store bought apples or some wrinkly-apple-trauma in his past I don't know.) So, I might make a few apple crisps this month and use the last of the stored apples.
In lower energy times, supplementing with citrus fruits from FL and TX is not as cheap and convenient as it is today. So if I'm planning for times like that, I'll probably stick to the 5 a week rate.

Onions, this one got a little tricky to track. I buy onions by weight, but I was tracking them by numbers here. So, counting got a little tricky after the first 20 pounds of onions and there is some wiggle in these numbers because of that. I have 27 left of the original 80, so we've used 53 onions in 14 weeks. That's really close (3.8) to the 4 per week usage rates I guessed at for the beginning of this experiment. We should have enough to see us through Mid-March, which will be nice, but in reality I can't get more local onions until June or July, so I'll have to figure out what to do for the gap.

Garlic, I thought 1 head a week, which has turned out to be spot on, we've used 14 heads in the first 14 weeks of the experiment. We're eating a little more than that because of the garlic that went into jars of salsa and roasted tomato sauce. This part of the experiment is the only one that came completely out of my own garden. So, it's awesome to see it go well. I replanted the biggest and best of the bulbs this past fall. I have 10 more heads, and that should last us through the end of March. I have some garlic powder and dried garlic pieces from my favorite spice store, and I will revert to those for the 3 months between when we run out and when I can harvest the first scapes from the garden.

Sweet Potatoes, 10 of the original 25 are left, plus there's 12 left of the 20 from my southern relatives. We've used 23 in the first 14 weeks, which is about 1.5 per week. So, I was close with my usage rate guesstimate of 2 per week. We have 22 left I think, so we should last through the end of the experiment, and maybe into April if they don't rot.

Potatoes, 20 pounds left of the original 56. This part suffered the same problem as the onions. Potatoes are bought by pounds, and I'm trying to track them individually. It's not working out so well, and I quit trying with the potatoes. So, I'm going to say that my original usage rate of 4 per week is roughly equal to 2 pounds per week. (I know I know, bad engineer, let's move on.) We've used 36 pounds in 14 weeks, which is about 2.5 pounds per week. So, at that rate, our last 20 pounds should last us 8 weeks, which puts us at the end of March. This is assuming that they don't all sprout and rot, which is a very real concern, especially as we're past Imbolc now and rapidly gaining more light every day.

Losses to rot have been minimal so far, (not counting those darned carrots) with a half a dozen onions, and apples getting tossed into the worm bin. Potatoes have probably lost closer to a dozen since Nov, and will probably lose a lot more before this month is out. There are small windows in my food storage room. I thought they were small enough to not cause any problems, but it's turned out that even that small amount of light is enough to cause my potatoes to sprout. I have some heavy duty black material, I'll be making some black out curtains for those windows to avoid this problem for next year.

Squashes, this category got added a little late in the experiment, so I didn't have initial guesses at our usage rates. It turns out we are using about one a week on average. The reality of that figure is that every other week I make us a dinner with squash, and I'll use 2 squashes so that there's enough for all 3 of us to eat. The other reality to that number is we're still experimenting with squash. For one thing, I only remember eating zucchinis as a child, if Mom ever cooked winter squash, I don't remember it. So, I don't have a repertoire of recipes in my family's cooking tradition that deal with these wonderful veggies. Winter squash is cheap and good and stores well and grows really well in our area; I knew I wanted to expand our usage of it. My little family has tried a number of recipes this winter; soups, baked, roasted, sauteed. We're still not where I'd like to be, I think once a week for squash meals would be a better rate. But, until we find a recipe that we all really like, I'm still searching, and I'll be patient. Stay tuned for the Hubbard squash battle that's coming soon. :-) This thing is huge and I've been saving it for last.

Interesting information has come out of the first half of this experiment. I'm excited about what I'll learn as it winds down.

----------------------------------------Edited ----------------------------------
Hornblower brings up a good point. I should clarify the number of people this is for. 1 adult male, 1 adult female and one <2.


Lamb said...

My absolute favorite way to have winter squash is to stuff it! I mix sausage, walnuts and apples and cook on top of stove until almost done. At the same time I roast the squash until tender. I sprinkle the cut halves of squash with some finely cut up butter (a pat each half) and about a tablespoon of brown sugar each half. Then I stuff the sausage mix in the squash, cover with foil and roast in my oven for about 1/2 hour.
Devour with gusto!

Jennie said...

Sausage, does it matter what kind of sausage? I think I've only had pork breakfast sausage, and beef summer sausage. What kind do you use with your squash? Lamb maybe?

Lamb said...

I use plain old breakfast sausage!

Lamb said...

OH! Jennie...check out my friend Cat's blog for info on storing carrots!

Jennie said...

Oooh.. she did good! Yea, I knew about the sand trick, but our bags of sand were abandoned in the last move, and I haven't had a chance to replace them yet.
I've heard damp sawdust can work too. It's on my list for next year.

Ten Things Farm said...

Hey, Jennie, thanks for stopping over at my blog today. Have you tried dried apples? We have a small orchard out back so I save the prettiest/best keepers, then dry the next group in the dehydrator, and make applesauce and pie filling from the rest. Like your Hubby, I am not good with apples that lose their crunch - it's apple crisp time around here too! We still have dried apples though, and they make a lovely snack. You can even sprinkle one side with cinnamon for a nice flavor. :)

I did a Tuesday Tip a while back about changing breakfast sausage in to Italian - basically, just add some Italian seasoning and fennel, and the flavor comes out great. Lamb's stuffed winter squash always sounds so good to me...I make a version of my own that I like. My hubby isn't a fan of squash, but I make them for me!

Brian Johnson said...

Don't forget soup. Winter squash and apples make a tasty soup.

hornblower said...

Oh boy - I see a problem for us already. We easily go through 4-5 apples/day, in addition to other fruits and veg. 20 weeks x 7 days/week x 4/day = gulp. An insane amount of storage.
Onions I use at more like 1-2/day.
Potatoes probably avg to 2/day.

Four people in the family including one big man with hollow leg & one almost teen boy....

Jennie said...

Hornblower, that's a good point, I didn't mention how many people my rates are for.

And yes, even just for the 3 of us, it's a serious amount of space, we have a large basement and my husband is nice enough to let me steal half a room of it for food storage. :D

Jennie said...

Brian, Dave says apple/squash soup sounds good. That may be the next thing we try. (Sooo tempted by that stuffed squash though...)

Ten things, I do make dried apples! They get eaten really fast around here. :-D I was just getting a post ready on the mix of dried fruit I tried making this past year.