Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Food Storage

I haven't been putting up individual blog posts about each of my canning and food storage adventures, so I might as well talk about them now, right?  Having the garden has been such a huge blessing this year.  We have loved the fresh produce and watching things grow--which I'm sure is obvious to you readers out there.  I've particularly loved the help it gives me in deciding what to make for dinner.  But we planned the garden this year with food storage in mind; since we haven't grown a garden in so many years, our stock has been greatly diminished.  We've been completely out of home bottled goods for months (no applesauce, no peaches, no beans, 4 bottles of tomatoes, a couple jars of relish, and that's about it) and patiently storing our empty jars, waiting for this season.  Now that it is here, it has been so fun to fill those jars and put them away on the shelves!

The first thing to store from our garden was the rhubarb back in the spring.  Our rhubarb isn't quite big enough to store much, just a few bags for the freezer and most of it went into fresh preparations like rhubarb tapioca pudding, which I couldn't get enough of thanks to Elsie.  Next up was the spinach.  I blanched and froze about 6 bags full.  Then peas, which despite planting what we thought would end up "just a taste" ended up being enough to shell a couple of times, and we got about 3 bags full.  Peas are one I never intended to grow to store, and I never intend to again. :)  But they sure are tasty!

We waited a while before the next big harvest: green beans.  I got 30 pints in about 3 weeks from them, during the most productive time frame; the rest have been gobbled up one meal at a time.  At last it was time for the tomatoes.  I've got 2 varieties of tomatoes in the garden and they all came on at the same time, so we went from famine to feast literally overnight.  My mom helped me bottle the tomatoes from both of our gardens and we got 35 quarts of whole tomatoes and 24 pints of spaghetti sauce to share.  I kept all the spaghetti sauce (that wasn't her first or last batch of spaghetti sauce) and 21 quarts of the whole tomatoes.  That was just the beginning of tomato season, though.  I also roasted a bunch of my very prolific cherry tomatoes and made soup, enough to freeze 4 half-gallon meal sizes; and then later I used some more tomatoes to make a wildly delicious batch of salsa, 12 pints of which are now in storage.

Meanwhile, I've had a very healthy basil harvest.  Basil keeps growing back as long as I keep it trimmed, so a couple times this summer I've had to give it a good haircut.  The first time I got 7 pint-sized batches of basil pesto for the freezer; the second time I made 16 more batches before being so sick of making pesto that I gave the last huge bag full of basil to my mom.  I shared the 16 batches with my friend who helped me strip all the stems of their leaves, so now I have about 15 meals worth of basil pesto in my freezer.

See all that basil up in the right hand corner?  That's AFTER the most recent cutting.
The zucchini hasn't been bottled, but I've been getting a bunch of that too and have been finding great ways to store it.  I've made zucchini bread--most of which has been eaten immediately, but 3 loaves found their way to the freezer.  I also made zucchini casserole fillings and put a couple of those in the freezer.  They'll be fantastic meals when baby Elsie comes.  I dug up my onions and am in the process of curing them so that I can hang them in my basement all winter long.  We planted 2 bundles of onions last spring and they are huge and healthy and will be delicious.  I still have carrots, sunflowers, squashes, and the fall crop of lettuce and spinach growing, and lots more tomatoes coming.  Now that it is September, the days are noticeably shorter and the tomatoes aren't ripening quite as quickly.  I might get enough for another batch of salsa before the frost... green tomato salsa for sure. LOL.

That's it (at least, that's what I can remember) for the garden.  I bought some strawberries on mega sale for strawberry freezer jam; we bought raspberries also on mega sale that we froze--though our raspberry canes have been producing, it hasn't been very much in this their first year.  A sweet family that lives really close to us had a mostly-picked apricot tree that they let my sister Sara and I come and strip.  We got half of a 5 gallon bucket of free apricots, and both she and I had enough to make apricot jam.  And that brings me up to this weekend, when my mom and dad, Sara and her husband Eric, and I bottled peaches (Cody was on kid duty).  We are fortunate enough to live relatively close to some very amazing peach groves, and so this time of year the peaches are ripe and not horribly expensive.  My mom bought 6 half-bushel boxes and we bottled them all.  We got about 90 quarts.  We're sharing with my siblings that live in California as well, so I get to keep 32 gorgeous quarts of peaches.

Still on the food storage docket is applesauce (which will be another big production), and like I previously mentioned, perhaps another batch of salsa.  I'll also have squashes and carrots to store, and Cody wants to try roasting sunflower seeds.  I'm sure I'll have some more zucchini too and one more harvest of basil before the frost comes.  Also, we had another case lot sale recently... man, I love those!... so I was able to replenish my supply of canned and boxed goods.  My freezers are both jam-packed, and the cold storage room's shelves are rapidly filling up.  It is such a great feeling!  I feel like I could take a month off of shopping after Elsie comes, except for maybe milk and some bananas, and just eat from our food storage and it would be wonderful.  I think I'm finally understanding why my mom was always so happy on canning days.

1 comment:

Laurie Fifield said...

This post makes me overflow with joy. I am so immensely grateful for your new house.