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Winter Harvest: Food Preservation in the “Off” Season

Wintertime Harvest:

Food Preservation in the “Off” Season

Winter Harvest

In Montana, we are in the throes of our tourist season—winters in Florida or summers in New England have nothing on the annual ritual we call Hunting Season. Every restaurant in the state has the big orange sign with the mug shot of a doe that states: “Hunters Welcome” (implying that perhaps others are not?).

Hunters Welcome

The Sunday after Hunting Season opens, churches look more like ladies’ Bible studies and the sporting goods stores have lines that rival Black Friday at an electronics box store.

They are telling me that canning season is over. Meat is the best reason to take up the art of canning in the first place; nutrient dense protein that is shelf-stable, delicious, and from a known source. These are the “convenience meals” that require little more than a Crockpot & some dehydrated vegetables, or a pot of rice and some frozen stir fry mix. Canning season is just getting started.

Maybe you are not from a hunting family—this year’s schedule leaves Wilson little time to hit the woods himself and we are very likely looking down the barrel of a meatless hunting season ourselves. So perhaps canning season is over? No one told the flat of tomatoes on my kitchen floor, a huge score from my co-op on Saturday. Alas, my pressure canner will not retire for the season. It rarely does—it is amazing what foods I find to process when the traditional jams and jellies are over. Oh, lest we close the (canning) lid on those tasty preserves, you do know it’s persimmon season right now, yes?

Persimmon Tree

Here is a list of potential reasons to keep those Tattler Lids and Canning Funnel handy throughout the winter months; and even if these items do not grow in your climate, your local co-op may carry these items in bulk for you:


The end of Black Walnuts                            Chestnuts

Pecans                                                            Pistachios

Brussel Sprouts                                             Carrots

Endive                                                             Cranberries

 Fennel                                                            Celery Root

 Leeks                                                              Parsnips

 Pumpkins & Squash                                    Potatoes & Sweet potatoes

 Jerusalem artichokes                                   Ice fishing**


Broccoli & Cauliflower (last reasonable month for root veggies in the North)

Hunting: Deer, Bear, Wild Boar, Turkey, Pheasant, waterfowl, and small game*

Kiwi (true story: I ate kiwi off the vine in November in a permaculture garden in Washington state once)


Chestnuts                                                          Pecans

Ice Fishing**                                                      Beets

Cabbage                                                            Brussel Sprouts

Broccoli                                                              Leeks

Cranberries                                                        Parsnips

Clementines                                                      Jerusalem artichokes


Cauliflower & Carrots (in temperate climate or greenhouse)

Potatoes & Sweet potatoes (as long as you can still dig them out of the ground)

Hunting: Deer, wolf, bobcat, Wild Boar, Muskrat, Beaver, Dove, Geese, small animal trapping*


Ice Fishing **                                                     Beets

Cabbage                                                            Harvest herbs from your kitchen garden

winter greens and brassicas                           Clementines


Hunting: Deer, wolf, bobcat, Muskrat, Beaver, Dove, Geese, small animal trapping *

Brussel Sprouts & Carrots (Temperate Climates or greenhouse)


Ice Fishing**

Brussel Sprouts & Carrots (Temperate Climates or greenhouse)


Indoor herbs


Ice Fishing**

Start looking for fiddleheads if unseasonably warm

Morels and other mushrooms (if you are thawed by then)

Stinging Nettle (Midwest and South)


*Hunting Seasons vary state-to-state and have specific dates for the type of weapons used.

**Although this varies by geography, the most common fish caught during ice fishing season are: Walleye, Perch, Pike, Crappie, and Trout (which swim in shallower water late-season).

*** Brassicas and root vegetables are must tastier in cool weather because they are less bitter. However, if your ground freezes or requires snowshoeing to take out the trash, you will not have great success with winter harvest unless you have a greenhouse or cloche.

Although you are not likely to pull out the pressure canner for all of the foods above, your dehydrator will place a close 2nd in utility with processing foods like nuts, yogurts, herbs, jerky, and winter greens.  There is much food to be had in the winter.  Do not forget to make extra large batches of your tastiest soup to put away in jars, too–perfect for a busy (and cold) winter night. 

Winter Garden

Want to expand your gardening season? We highly recommend this book.


The Year Round Vegetable Gardener


Did I miss an available wintertime food source where you live? Help us round out this list by adding a comment underneath!

Keep Preserving,



Persimmon: : TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) via photopin cc

Winter Harvest Notebook: Chiot’s Run via photopin cc

Snowy Bridge: Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton via photopin cc

 Hunters Welcome by Taber Andrew Bain


Nothing in this blog constitutes medical advice.  You should consult your own physician before making any dietary changes.  Statements in this blog may or may not be congruent with current USDA or FDA guidance.



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