Live Real. Eat Real.

The Harvest

It’s mid-October, and I am (more or less) done canning, freezing and otherwise preserving for the year.

Hallelujah.

I meant to take photos, I really did, but between the hectic work week and the demands of not only a high school senior but a 3-year-old grandson, I just didn’t have the time/inclination/wherewithal to drag my photography equipment into our rather poorly lit basement and set it all up into something resembling orderly.  Well, that’s not true; thanks to Beloved it’s all pretty well organized, but it’s spread out over several shelves and I just didn’t want to have to rearrange it all to make it easier to photograph.

The reason it’s all spread over several shelves (not to mention two boxes full of winter squashes) is because there’s tons of it down there:

  • 24 pints of barbecue sauce
  • 85 pints of tomato sauce
  • 20 half-pints of sweet corn
  • 65 pints of green beans
  • 6 half-pints rhubarb chutney
  • 28 pints of applesauce
  • 8 half-pints of apple butter
  • 10 half-pints of watermelon pickles
  • 20 pints garlic dill pickles
  • 10 pints of bread and butter pickles
  • 9 pints tomato salsa
  • 12 pints peach salsa
  • 7 pints pickled beets
  • 38 pints of chicken stock
  • 18 pints of beef stock
  • 12 pints turkey (yes, turkey)
  • 11 pints of lard

Again, that doesn’t even include the two large boxes of winter squash or the huge bag of frozen cubes of homemade tomato paste, the frozen sweet corn, the tallow we still have to render or the beef stock we will add to what’s already down there.  Nor does it take into account the two hogs, side of grass-fed beef and 36 chickens we’ve socked away in our freezer over the course of the year.

(My sister-in-law, Tough Yankee Broad – who is also slightly off her rocker and cans like a fool all late summer and early autumn – says she keeps her winter squashes in the basement until January, then cooks and cans whatever is left before they have a chance to go bad.  That sounds like a plan to me, and I’ll probably do the same this year – I may have the fortitude to drag out the pressure canner once again by then.)

If all this sounds like a lot of work, well, it is – we have done nothing but can every weekend for at least six weeks, and there were plenty of weeknight canning sessions, too.  All in all, we canned 4 bushels of tomatoes, 1 1/2 bushels of green beans, 1/2 bushel of apples and canned/froze 5 dozen ears of sweet corn.

There is an upside to this madness, of course; trust me – if there weren’t, we wouldn’t be doing it.

With the exception of the stocks and fats, which we process and can all year, all of this food will last us until next summer when we start the process all over again.  Since we’re fortunate enough to live where there are year-round farmer’s markets (our favorite will move indoors at the end of the month) and near at least two excellent natural food markets, we’ll continue to buy some seasonal produce, but our weekly food bill is going to drop dramatically until next spring.  We also have the advantage of knowing exactly where this food came from, what’s in it, and how it was processed and handled.

When we watch the news and see yet another report about food that’s been recalled – this time it’s shredded wheat cereal contaminated with metal shavings – all I can think of is how glad I am we don’t have to worry about that shit any more.

For more Autumnal Spins, visit Gretchen at Second Blooming.  She has a killer recipe for pumpkin bread, for the gluten-inclined.


16 comments

Lori says:

Yes it is a lot of work but so worth it. I love that we can eat the things we have grown through out the winter. We don’t have any farmers markets through out the winter here so I am jealous that you have that option. I hope you have fun in your last days with your adorable busy grandson. I know it is exhausting but what wonderful memories you guys are making with him. Happy weekend to you and yours!

MC says:

Great post! I’m fascinated by the concept of having all that food available — and knowing that you prepared it all.

If you get around to posting pictures, I’d love to see them!

Alex says:

You guys are amazing canning champs!! Seriously, I am so impressed. Sounds like the toil will pay off in spades though!

Gretchen says:

OH man, I love this! It’s all so…Little House on the Prairie. You’re all ready for the long winter to set in. Please let me know how the watermelon rind pickles turned out. I just used the last of my frozen chicken stock last night. Time to make more. It’s totally changed my life, btw! Well, okay, that’s a little dramatic, but it has definitely changed my thinking regarding chicken stock.

You are linked!

Carolyn says:

Great job on all the canning! I wish I knew how to can things but unfortunately, no one in my family has ever done so. I really do want to learn but I’m not sure where to start. With the sub-zero winters here in Minnesota, the less I have to go food shopping, the better.

I hope you have a great weekend!

Jan says:

Thanks Carolyn!

I never really gave any thought about starting – I’d just picked up a huge box of tomatoes dirt-cheap at the farmer’s market and decided it would probably be a good idea to can them. So I ran out to Walmart and bought a water bath canner and looked up how to do it on Google.

That was in 2010. I had NO idea what I was getting into.

Carolyn Curielli says:

Thanks so much for the info. Google is the best thing ever! I do have a
Walmart by me so I think I will attempt this next year. I hope some canning
recipes will be included in your cookbook. :)

Be says:

We eat seasonally because we can!

Of course now that you have published this online I will expect Homeland security to open a file on us. I heard that if we have more than a 7 day supply of food (the average Grossery Store has only 3) we are considered a threat to our overlords.

I guess y’all know where to go in the event of the Zombie Apocolypse!

Jan says:

If Homeland Security doesn’t show up on our doorstep, the people from that Hoarders show probably will.

Oh my, you have been busy!

I haven’t even been brave enough to do the final tally (it’s all scribbled on slips of paper on the fridge). All I can say is “I’m so glad it’s over!”. I love canning – but when I try to do it, grow all of it, and work full-time as well – well it’s just too darn much.

Squash keep really well in our basement, and should in yours as well – except that you aren’t as cold as we are up here in Vermont – so maybe the garage – just don’t let them freeze! Last year (which was a mild winter by Vermont standards) I had to grab the last of the squash & pumpkin out of the basement and can them. The year before they were still good at St. Patty’s day.

Did ya ever think you’d get bitten by the “canning bug”? LOL

chuck says:

wow….good for you guys. we have done some of that but not nearly as much as you. our garden does keep our freezer pretty well stocked.

Amy G says:

I love canning (at the beginning of the season, lol). Haven’t done a lot of it in the past 2 years because of a rough pregnancy preventing me gardening, then a drought this year. I miss it right now. ;)

How do you can your stock? I have an overabundance of stock right now, and I don’t really want to use up any more freezer space or containers. I have a pressure canner and plenty of jars. I just didn’t know how many pounds of pressure and for how long? Thanks!

Jan says:

Amy, we can our stock at 11 pounds of pressure for 50 minutes. That’s at sea level, of course – at higher altitudes, it’s probably prudent to do it at 15 pounds.

Wow …!
And to think I ate a chicken burrito on the way home from the airport tonight …

Janice says:

Your blog makes me think of my mother in law in her younger years. She will be 98 this next week. I would that she could still can and freeze produce as you described. She would be a much happier person. Thanks for sharing the events of your life.

Lisa says:

I’m in awe. Couldn’t do this unless my life depended on it.

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