The preservation report 2013

Not every day canning is a zen session, but today it was.

The water boiled for blanching just as I prepped the tomatoes: the kettle water for lids was hot just at the same time as the crushed tomatoes were simmering; I didn't forget the citric acid; I had just enough to fill every pint jar I had ready, and the pot of filled jars came to a boil as I finished up the last of the prep dishes. Ahhhh.

For certain this doesn't happen every time, there has been scrambling for lids and missing ingredients, days when I was hot and grouchy, days when I had great plans for multiple projects and was lucky to finish one of them. But all in all this has been a smoothly-running preservation season. I think it may be a matter of volume: I have canned WAY more than previous years, and after a while you get into a nice routine. I'm also still completely sold on preserving in small batches.  Partially it's because my size garden yields quantities conducive to batches of 4-6 pints, but also because everything from prep to cleanup is a manageable time frame to squeeze in after work or on a weekend morning. 

tomato triage:  sorting/weighing fruit to decide the next project.

Someone* (ahem) has filled up our small chest freezer with hops and both foraged and cultivated fruit to facilitate a new obsession with hobby of fermenting and brewing. So it became clear early on that my tomatoes would best be in jars this year if I wanted room for sweet corn and broccoli. I normally freeze much of my sauce and save the canning for salsa and pickling, with a few jars of crushed tomatoes and sauce on hand for convenience. 

Then there was the year of the cucumber: remember the last time I had a bumper crop and accidentally had 35 jars of pickles in my basement? It's been another excellent year for cucumbers and this time we have over 40 pints on the shelf--not including relish! I had plenty to get in some good practice with fermented dills, so we now have several half-gallons of those babies in the fridge as well.

Now the fruit is coming in: we had a decent apple year and since we don't spray-- a good half of our fruit is use-it-or-lose-it quality. I've made plenty of apple sauce and happily discovered the caramel apple jam from Linda Ziedrich's The Joy of Jam, Jellies, and other Sweet Preserves. Next up is apple chutney, I think. And now....the pears are ready for picking. We are completely amazed and overwhelmed by our one tree's harvest. We have a second asian pear mostly for pollination purposes, but the big guy (Karl's Favorite) was spectacular this year. I have no idea what we are going to do with them all!

So it all snuck up on me, starting with buying a few more cases of jars, and a constant adding of lids to the grocery list without realizing what that meant. Suddenly we had overflowing shelves and I woke up in the night, not with insomnia over how much work there was to do, but just how much food there was in the pantry, ha! I do have pretty established goals for tomato products: I know how much we use and with a little cushion in case of a poor season, we do really use it all up. Fruit/pickles are a little more nebulous for me, but our trees generally yield every other season, so I'm fine with a little extra—also pickles, jams and jellies work well for gifting. I love adding new “products” to our repertoire, such as ketchup and other condiments, and I usually try a few new chutneys or relishes to see if they make the cut. This year, though, I think I'm going to really meal-plan around those shelves, and I'm pretty happy about it.

So now I'll finish this up, the first draft at least, just as the timer runs out on my processing tomatoes. Ahhh.

And then go pick some more pears.

*I should add the same someone has been a huge help with salsa prep, loads of dishes, and garden upkeep—plus the aforementioned fruit foraging--so it all works out. Plus beer and wine, bonus!

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  1. Wonderful pantry photo! I love seeing rows of jars of home-preserved food. And I wish ours was as well stocked. Kudos.


    1. Thanks! Like everything it's a gradual process, I started a LOT smaller. I can't wait to take a photo at the very end of the season with the entire collection. (Also I can't wait because it means I'll be done, ha!)


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