Friday, September 13, 2013

First Of the Canning Season

I love fall. And I really love preparing in the fall. This sense of preparation or "need to prepare" kicked in full gear when I was expecting our first child many years ago. Until that time, I just got really excited about the "back to school" season - even though we didn't have any children at the time. I assumed it was left over excitement of starting a new school year. New adventures...

My favorite time is coming!
Once the babies started coming though I would go into what Husband referred to as "squirrel girl" mode. It always hits in the fall. It always starts the same.
  • Lists. I start making more lists than I normally do. Lists for repairs. Lists for chores. Lists for food. Lists of what needs to be cleaned. You name it, if it has to do with "preparing for winter" squirrel girl is on the job! 
  • Cleaning. I have never done the deep spring cleaning that you always read about. I do clean (I promise...please don't let my previous post on soap scum give you a poor impression of my housekeeping skills), but I do my deep cleaning in the fall. Before we're all tucked inside for the icky weather and long months. I think it is also the tax incentive that encourages me to go through what we're not using and give it to the VVA or local charity. 
  • Decorating. I start to look at different spaces in our home, and since it's cleaned and streamlined, my thoughts turn to how to refresh the space and "make it new" (...I already have ideas about the laundry room...). Plus, the holiday season is just around the corner!
  • Food Storage. Maybe it harkens back to ancestors...or maybe it's childhood memories of a lot of snow in the winter...all I know is that fall starts a strong desire to make sure I have stores for the family's needs, and it goes beyond food to include toiletries, clothing, and any other supplies a family might need.
This summer I put up 20 quarts of fresh, organic peaches. I also used some of the peaches for jam. I tried a new variety -- Diamond Princess -- and they were amazingly sweet! I only used 1.5 cups of sugar instead of the called-for 7 cups! The family has been circling around the jars ever since, asking when we can open them. "Not yet!" I say, "It's still in the high-80s and 90s!" I did break down and my youngest took some for lunch earlier this week. They were so good -- it was like tasting a fresh-picked peach! YUM!

Mmmmm! This is going to taste SO good on toast on a raining morning!
My biggest challenge is finding organic produce in bulk and at a reasonable price. I was so excited when I found an excellent wholesale produce company not too far from work and home: ProFarm Produce. Shane and Ryan are awesome...and Shane is great at responding and keeping up with my regular inquiries on what's ripening. (** wink **)

Next up on the agenda are PEARS. I'm going to can pear pieces so they're easier to fit into the Ball freezer containers. These containers are perfect for freezing left over broth or drippings for soup stock (another staple in our home during cold evenings...I think my teenage son would live off soup during the winter if I let him!), and the leak-proof flexible lid is perfect for lunch containers too. It's only topped off by the fact that they're BPA free! (THIS all makes me a very happy mom.)

These come in a set of 3 for $4.99 at my local Winco
After pears comes APPLES! I do a chunky apple sauce with cinnamon. Generally I don't add any sugar, depending upon what types of apples I'm saucing. I'll probably do up some apple butter as well. It reminds me of my Mom, and I have yet to make some, so this fall seems the perfect time. 

The fruit, jams, and butters will be joined this fall and winter by the green beans and zucchini (prepped and frozen for soups and breads). Sadly our corn experiment was a bit of a bust (more in my next post). And all the other produce is being eaten as fast as I can pick it. 

Each year I learn so much about gardening. And while I'm having fun and taking great pride in growing some of our food, I am really glad that I'm not solely dependent on my garden for feeding my hungry brood. I'm going to need more time to learn and optimize my garden space!

1 comment:

  1. The jam looks delicious!

    I didn't get as much done before my trip. Hopefully, I can do a little squirreling myself when I get home!