I have been spending up to 12 hours a day preserving food lately. Even when I don’t have hours to spend at it, I do try to do a little early in the morning, or in the evening. It’s my kind of fun, but also a lot of work. In the end, I’m super happy with all the food we’ve preserved so far.
In late summer and fall, many things usually ripen in our area. This year has been very strange. We had a late spring and several crops were completely lost or severely damaged, so we were not sure what we would have available this year.
Every year, my sister’s neighbor gives her several boxes of pears. This year, he said there were going to be none. We were fortunate enough to find some at a fruit stand we love to go to and ordered 2 boxes. This was about 80-90 pounds, I think. Then, the neighbor gave her some after all. Surprise! I’m not sure how many pounds came our way, but I’m guessing 50 or more. Those from her neighbor were ready to work up immediately, and some were starting to spoil the day I received them. My mom delivered them, so we started in on them right away.
I dried a dryer full each day for several days, so have many baggies of dried pears now. I made a batch of pear butter and canned it. I made a huge bowl of fruit cocktail and canned it in pints.
Over a several day period, I canned 43 quarts and several pints of the purchased pears, as they ripened. I just finished them Tuesday.
My sister’s farm had a terrible peach crop this year. Earlier, we were able to get enough early peaches to freeze and dry some. She kindly scrounged the orchard for the later kind, Elbertas, and sent several small boxes full to me. I canned 9 quarts and 4 pints. Thankfully, with what I have left over, that should be more than enough. I intentionally did extra pears since we were almost out of those and the peach crop was not abundant.
Since the babies eat here so often, I anticipate that we will go through most of what I canned this winter, as they love canned fruit. They also love soup, carrots, beans, etc.
We also ate some fresh and my daughter made a big peach crisp. It was just finished last evening. Yum!
Of course, during all this abundance, I went out to pick tomatoes from the garden, and there were 4 buckets. Yes, 4! A few days later, there were 4 more. This is really, really funny to us. When Rob grew these tomato plants this spring, it was just too wet to plant them for a long, long time. They got leggy. They turned yellow. They were ugly and looked half dead. He was so embarrassed by his tomato bushes, he refused to give them to most people and apologized profusely to anyone who did wheedle him out of some. For the longest time, I had bushes, and no tomatoes. But all of a sudden……Oh, boy! I have huge bushes with the biggest tomatoes I ever remember growing in my life on some bushes and the tiniest ones on others, but all are loaded. They are quickly ripening now.
I have canned crushed tomatoes, quartered and whole tomatoes, pizza-pasta sauce and one batch of salsa. I gave my mom tomatoes to freeze and Jake’s mom tomatoes to can. We have been eating them daily. I still want to can more and there are so many more still ripening, I know I will get more than I want. That’s fine with me. Ever since the year (long ago) when my tomato crop died from a blight after I only got 7 measly jars canned, I like to do extra each year, just in case.
At the same time as the pears were picked up, Rob got a box of Gravestein apples for applesauce, and my mom brought me another 1/2 box. I made applesauce and canned about 30 pints of it.
A few pints of dill pickles were made. I have many dills left from last year, so only need to do a few.
Zucchini was dried. I don’t use much of this each year, but noticed my stash was almost gone from last year.
I made a double batch of basil pesto and froze 2 ice cube trays full. I popped the cubes out into Ziplock bags and plan to do more later on when the basil grows back a bit. We used last year’s supply too quickly and have been hoarding the last few cubes for a long time. It’s easy enough to just make more this summer. The basil is growing great!
I got a few ears of corn for 9c per ear at Safeway. I used them to make one batch of corn relish.
While I was at it, I boiled 2 frozen chicken carcasses I had saved when it was so very hot, and canned a canner-load of broth.
Most of the big canning jobs are done now. Although I love, love, love food preservation, I will admit that I’m glad to have that monumental pile of pears, peaches and apples in jars! It’s good to see my table again and be able to walk around here more easily without tripping on boxes of produce:)
There are still quite a few veggies in the garden. I slip out there and pick whenever I find the time. There will be a few more items that I will preserve this year, but we will eat quite a bit of the garden harvest fresh from now on. My sister has sent fresh corn several times, and we have been enjoying that. I didn’t grow winter squash, or cauliflower, so I will buy that from a produce stand, plus more corn if her supply runs out and I need more. The fall veggies I planted are coming along nicely and there will be broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, kale and lettuce. The spinach has been eaten up by slugs twice. Some lettuce did not germinate and some was bulldozed over by little bulldozer man, who loves to “work” in the dirt at the edge of the garden. I try to direct his bulldozing, but sometimes he gets carried away:). It’s so cute, it’s worth a little lettuce.