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