GROW: The Book
Just finished my initial canning/preserving list for this summer... 😲 I better get cracking!!!
@chimboodle04 Wow! That's impressive. Do you do this every year?
Best of luck with your canning! That looks like an awfully ambitious list. I'm guessing that you have a lot of canning experience.
I had hoped to can sweet pickles and dill pickles last summer, but I found out at the last minute that none of the local farmers were selling picking cukes, and I hadn't grown any myself. So this year I am growing my own, and keeping my fingers crossed.
Although there are many local farmers and farm stands here in Vermont, they seem to cater mainly to people who stop in to buy a few veggies for dinner. None of them (that I've found, anyway) have any way to get a bushel of a needed vegetable in canning season. If your own crop fails, or you don't have room to grow it, you're stuck.
CSAs, on the other hand, offer too much. I wish there was a happy medium.
Has anyone else had this problem?
@torey thanks :) - yes, we have been canning for quite a few years now and seem to add more each summer we do it! Luckily, I have a husband who is in to preserving as well - it helps a ton to have both of us working to preserve - definitely could not do it alone :) @catherine.james we have had that same problem - particularly with fruit and tomatoes (and sometimes cucumbers). Luckily, we have quite a few farms around here that sell firsts or seconds by the bushel. I wonder why the farms in your area do not...? I hope you have great luck this year with your cucumbers :)
@chimboodle04 and @catherine.james “very ambitious “ were my thoughts exactly. I sure hope to get that much accomplished someday. This is the first time (if canner arrives timely) for me. I also see you dehydrate quite a bit. I’d be interested in how you progress with that. Also, do you grow all of that food?
@maimover We have been preserving for 16 years now - when we started it was just blackberry jam, whole tomatoes, and a spaghetti sauce :) We enjoyed it so much (and found the flavor and health benefits to be far superior to anything we could find in the grocery store) so we have continued and added to what we make ourselves over the years. I have a monthly schedule so that I can get it all done without getting overwhelmed :) There is nothing like opening a jar of something you preserved yourself for dinner - I am so excited for you :) We do grow a lot of it ourselves (thanks to a love of gardening and lots of experimenting with succession crops and rotations since we live in the suburbs), but there are some things that we need to purchase from the farms around here - namely most of the whole fruits, many years tomatoes since we use so many tomato products, and sometimes cucumbers if it has been a bad growing year. The rest we are able to produce ourselves barring any problems or disease. Finding the best way to preserve a particular crop has also been a learning curve. As you noticed, some things we prefer to can (usually these are the ready-made things like sauces, soups, etc, but not always), some we find are better frozen, and some we like to dehydrate. Dehydrating has been our newest venture, so we are still experimenting... I find that I use dehydrated items most when cooking soups and stews - its so easy to throw them in the pot and just let everything cook together with the meat, so things like leeks, mushrooms, celery, and onions have made it on my list yearly to dehydrate. Some of the newer things we have discovered to dehydrate are carrot greens and tomato skins - both make great flavor additives to dishes! Carrot greens add a flavor between parsley and carrot, and powdered tomato skins add a tomato flavor - we are huge fans of wasting as little as possible so realizing that we could use these things for food instead of adding them to the compost felt like a great find :) We have started to venture more into dehydrating fruits this year when we find a good deal (like for bananas and pineapple) and we also dehydrate and put up many of the herbs we grow as well. For me, dehydrating takes up less of my time - its more of a set it and forget it until its done, so I have found it to be a great addition to preserving.
@chimboodle04 thanks so much for sharing. You surely are an inspiration. My mind is going at warp speed but the body not so much, lol! I haven’t gardened in years and have some help this year at home and last year gardened with a friend at their house. So I’m taking all the help I can get and planting things I’ve “never” grown. So....it’s definitely a learning experience. Hoping for the best and looking forward to beginning a new way to eat this winter. My friend also has a dehydrator that we’re going to get fired up and dehydrate what we can. Have fun and maybe post some pics of your finished jars (more inspiration) 😊
Wow! You are nudging me to do a bit more. Unfortunately for us, a late frost took all of our stone fruit.
We do have apples. If you are willing to share your apple shallot chutney recipe, that would be amazing!
We are going to try to build Tom Bartel's solar dehydrator to start our dehydrating adventures. Let us know how your experiments go!
That's a beautiful list!
Canning and freezing have been long-time activities, but as I started to get older and less people to feed, I changed up my game plan. While I was in Germany, I joined a CSA that had twice a week pickup. I had so much stuff! So i made borscht. And froze it. And realized, well, hey! Instead of freezing or canning all these individual things, some soups and stews really froze or pressure canned well. And in January, when I opened my tiny German freezer and took out a container of borscht (Ukrainean style, which is code for "everything goes in here") and invited my friends over to share, it was like a trip back to summer.
I like to grow heirloom tomatoes in various colors and then I can them in pretty layers. Might be the OCD....
At one point when I started doing my tomato research, there were just SO MANY TOMATOES. I was just not in the mood to spend another six hours sweating in front of the stove. So we sliced them and put them in the dehydrador. All these different varieties. They store really well in glass jars in the cupboard, and make a wonderful snack. OR put them in soup, when they rehydrate they are just as wonderful. And they taste different from each other, as they should. We also dried some of our pickling cucumbers. I was so surprised to taste this wonderful pickle cuke taste in this crispy dried thing. YUMMM. In Iceland, you can buy frozen cucumbers - they make soups with dill out of them. I actually quite love a dilly cucumber potato soup. I would never have thought of this (-:
I used to do a lot of jams and jellies until I realized... I don't really eat jams and jellies. I much prefer chutneys. I do make some sauces, but I make them for things like lassi and over samosas or steamed veggies, although the occasional ginger-peach sauce over vanilla ice cream is not to be understated (-:
Nowadays, though, I'm living fairly vicariously through other people's adventures, as I'm not in a physical place that is conducive to growing much or preserving/storing much. Seeing what you all are doing is really wonderful!
Although... really, i'd like to be able to make a nice dry hard cider; and learning how to make a good wine vinegar is high on my list!
maimover, don't go too fast. It's better to take small steps and have some successes to keep you going. Trying to do everything all at once runs the risk of hitting major problems and becoming discouraged.
"A long journey begins with one step."
"Nowadays, though, I'm living fairly vicariously through other people's adventures, as I'm not in a physical place that is conducive to growing much or preserving/storing much."
vfk, I hope you are at least growing a few sprouts and shoots on a shelf. It really doesn't take much space or effort. A couple of shelves with simple fluourescent or LED lights is enough to keep you in salads, even through a northern winter.
@chimboodle04 wow! Awesome! Does all this take you through a whole year supply? This is my goal to supply my house (with extras) for a whole year.
@maimover this is my first year pressure canning and being serious about water bath canning. I even joined a canning group to challenge myself and be accountable to LOTS of canning. I also do a lot of dehydration...I’m drying Strawberries now, the best “chip” to snack on ever! Lol Good luck on you new journey into canning💕
@Acequiamadre The apple shallot recipe can be found on the Ball canning website - it is one of my favorites! So easy to dump on a roast (especially pork!) before cooking and it seems like you spent hours in the kitchen preparing it :)
@vfk I know what you mean! I love opening jars in the middle of winter and having summer on the table :) We just finished harvesting our garlic scapes, which we will turn in to pesto to freeze for winter pastas :) I agree, tomatoes can get overwhelming - we ended up just washing and throwing some of them whole into the freezer. The bonus is that when we went to use them later, there was no need to scald and peel them; the skins slipped right off - yay for some time saving! You made me remember another chutney recipe I came across just recently - cherry and carmalized onion... - I just may have to try that one too! We (by that I mean my husband lol!) is experimenting with hard cider as well! He is using the leftover apple peels and cores to make it - awesome since I love using every scrap of food if possible :) last year was his third year and it turned out the best yet! Fizzy and "smoked" like a Champaign when we opened it. I prefer mine a bit sweeter, but this was on the drier side. Only problem is that it needs to stay in the fridge...we will need to rig something up if he is going to continue because we will run out of room! I would love to hear about your experiments with it and the wine vinegar (another thing I would love to produce!) if you are willing to share when you start :)
@herbantherapy we are working bit by bit on the year supply, yes :) I am still tweaking exactly how much we need (and with two growing kids, that keeps changing!), but as of now, these are the things that we have not bought from the store for a few years at least: leeks, salsa, jam, sweet pickles, pizza sauce, tomato paste, cocktail sauce, plum sauce, chutneys, pie fillings including pumpkin, sauerkraut, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, broth (chicken and beef), garlic, shallots, onions, canned beans (other than chickpeas), green beans, whole tomatoes, and many herbs. This year I am experimenting to see if I can add potatoes to that group (a family favorite). Currently, I have 31 plants in that are flowering and will be ready to harvest come mid July. Once my garlic and onions are harvested, I plan to plant an additional 32 plants in that space for a later fall harvest.... we will see how that goes! Working on one or two crops a year to figure out how much we use and growing enough to cover it has been the best policy for us - and like I said, it can fluctuate from year to year :) Best of luck with the pressure canning! It will open a whole awesome new area for you, and you will never look back lol!
Wow! Nice! We thought we were canning a lot. Got nothing on you. We're canning tomato sauce, apple sauce, potatoes, meats, several jams and a few other things. Basics, not that extensive list above. Have fun.
Wow, I can't wait till I can finally leave my full time job and have more time for canning and gardening. I can whatever I manage to get time for. My newest effort was canning ground beef. Was afraid it would be too mushy or soggy after all the cooking. Turned out fantastic. Makes work night dinners much easier to have all the canned ingredients on my shelves. I found we liked the boiled version the best. You boil the ground beef first, them pack in jars, fill with hot beef broth (not the water you boiled in) and can it. Very little grease left, and perfect for anything calling for cooked ground beef.
@vickeym I have not tried ground beef yet - that sounds great! One of the reasons we can as well is to make things simpler when we are busy - makes it much easier and less tempting to get take-out (which is difficult anyways since we have multiple food allergies in our house...). I will need to try this :)
@chimboodle04 Wow very impressive!!! My husband keeps telling me I need to learn to can, I’m hoping to try it before I retire as I feel I don’t have the time I like and I’m pretty busy with my herbal medicine making and can hardly keep up with that!! I did take @judsoncarroll4 advice on kombucha pickles and it worked fantastic but that’s about it at this point. It’s really important to be able to utilize your crops because I find I’m giving away a lot I could be storing more of it... even though it’s a blessing to share!
@catherine.james I ordered a pressure canner and it won’t come until July 10th (if it ships on time) so just trying to grow stuff now. I did put 53 pounds of asparagus in the freezer. There are many plates spinning, avenues being prepared, and if all goes well there will be some jars on the shelves this year. Trying and hoping for the best. If it’s not the best it’ll be better than last year and hopefully not as good as next year 😊
@herbantherapy I never would’ve thought of dehydrating strawberries. Boy...the wheels are spinning.