There is nothing like feeling the aftermath of a natural disaster to inspire a little more preparedness. I'm in the Midwest so all we got from Tropical Storm Sandy was some sleet that turned into rain and a couple cold and dreary days. However, reading the reports coming in and the status updates of friends along the east coast on FaceBook has inspired me to take a look back at the summer and what I was able to put by.
This January I decided to make a Plan to Preserve in the coming year. It was published in three parts and I did one update:
- Part 1 of 3: Creating of list of what to preserve and how much
- Part 2 of 3: Calculating how many jars/bags/freezer containers will be needed and projected harvest dates
- Part 3 of 3: Making a calendar of foods with their quantities to check it every couple weeks as the season progresses
- End of August Check In
It is now November and the season is pretty much over. I canned my last jars of tomatoes at the end of October. We still have a handful of fresh ones left on the counter for salads and such. There might be some kale or chard I could glean if the farm hasn't gotten a hard freeze yet. I'm ready for it all to be done. So I'm calling it. The 2012 harvest is complete.
What did I put up? In descending order of quantity:
- 16.5 quarts of crushed tomato
- 7.5 quarts of pizza sauce
- 6.5 quarts of zesty salsa
- 6.0 quarts of enchilada sauce
- 6.0 quarts of unsweetened apple sauce
- 6.0 quarts of grape jelly
- 5.0 quarts of Animal Vegetable Miracle Tomato Sauce
- 5.0 quarts of dill pickles
- 2 gallons of cherry tomatoes
- Herbs: Thyme, oregano, parsley, dill, rosemary
- 5 gallons of cut bell peppers
- 2 gallons of cut 'Rampicante' squash
- 12 cups of zucchini shredded
- 8 pounds of kale
- 9 batches of basil pesto
- 12 cups of green beans
- 6 pound of chard
- 9 cups of cut corn
- 10 bouquets of mixed herbs for stuffing in roast chicken
- 2 cups chopped hot peppers
This is easily the most food I have ever put up. What kills me is there was more I could have preserved. I passed up a whole bushel of corn. I missed out on the early season because I was super pregnant and then I was recovering while not sleeping and taking care of a new born. Bless single mothers. One baby was a lot for two of us. I got back on track starting in August and put by a significant amount of food into jars.
I concentrated on tomatoes and between the 100 pounds I got at the farmer's market and the 50 or so I brought home from Hawkin's Farm I put up more than I planned. I can already tell you I want to put up more of the Family Secret Tomato Sauce from Barbera Kingsolver's book Animal Vegetable Miracle. I love the lemony flavor with the tomatoes. It feels like eating a plate of sunshine with meat balls!
I'm already thinking about next year. Now that I'm going to have my own veggie garden in addition to the CSA and farmer's market, I'm going to concentrate on growing cold storage produce such as winter squash, onions, cabbage, sweet potatoes, rutabaga, carrots and beets. We have a spare bedroom we don't heat that I'm using as a root cellar right now. In the coming year I'll look at making a section of our basement into a more permanent location for cold storage of root vegetables and squash.
Did I tell you all that I finally got a chest freezer? I saw one come up locally on Craigslist for $100. It's just a small eight cubic feet one, but it more than triples our previous capacity. We got it at the beginning of September and I've managed to fill it about half full. Next year, I'm aiming for capacity.
I will also be doing Carolyn's trick of re-hydrating beans on the stove to add moisture and heat to the house through the winter. Then I'll have those beans ready to use this spring and summer. The freezer will also run more efficiently because it will stay fuller.
I've also been pleased with a local farms that produces cool season crops through the winter. They have lettuce, kale, spinach, carrots and some root crops (that are kept in ground and harvested as needed). This summer a bulk foods store opened up on Main Street too. I'm thinking of trying a month of no chain stores and buying all food with in 15 minutes driving of town. I usually go a couple times a month to a Kroger in a neighboring town. The one thing I'll have trouble with is getting fruit. Perhaps I should go out and buy a couple bushels of apples before they are all gone. But how will I get citrus?
I'm feeling very good about being able to feed my family organic, local, hormone free food which is excellent considering soon the baby will be doing more than just sitting in her high chair; she'll be eating too. How did she get to be five months old already?