Here’s a basic summary of what we were able to put up this year. The photos are a little off: we’ve been using things, so the shelves are already a little more empty than they were at their peak.
What we canned:
- 8 quarts peaches
- 10 quarts, 8 pints applesauce
- 3 pints apple butter
- 16 half-pints rhubarb-berry jam (we gave a lot away)
- 5 half-pints roasted red pepper spread
- 4 half-pints balsamic red pepper jelly
- 8 half-pints bruschetta
- 5 pints salsa
- 12 pints dilled beans
- 5 pints coriander pickled peppers
- 5 pints spicy pickled peppers
- 8 pints roasted red peppers (we lost one to the floor – what a mess!)
- 15 pints tomato sauce
- 12 quarts, 20 pints crushed tomatoes
What we froze:
- 15 chickens (most whole, some broken down)
- lots of pork (but we don’t really count that, since all we did was pay for it)
- 2 gallons apple slices
- 15 quarts green beans
- 2 gallons cherry tomatoes
- 1 gallon, 6 quarts sweet corn
- 2 gallons rhubarb
- 2 gallons chopped peppers
- 1 gallon broccoli
- 1 gallon, 1 quart kale bombs
What we stored:
- 2 bins potatoes
- 15 spaghetti squash (though I don’t think these actually hold very well, so they’ll probably go to the hens pretty soon if we don’t use them)
- 8 butternut squash
- too many sugar pumpkins
- 100ish pounds onions
We’re moving through some stuff pretty steadily (tomatoes, onions), and some other stuff hardly at all (rhubarb). We’ll take stock over the winter and adjust the seeds we buy to better fit how we actually eat.
Mark and I had a wild Friday night this week making applesauce. Our tree is heavy with some sort of green, tart apple, and one of the parks my office maintains has some old, neglected trees that we were able to pull a few bags worth of apples from. The park apples ended up being fairly mealy and not so good for sauce, but our apples worked great. We splurged for the saucing and bought an apple peeler, which is hands down our biggest recommendation for anyone wanting to to do anything that involves peeling lots and lots of apples. A bottle of wine is helpful too.
We followed the Ball recipe for sauce, which is pretty straightforward: Boil down some apples til tender, run them through a food mill, add lemon juice and however much sugar you prefer, and process in a boiling water bath. We canned eight quarts of sauce and only made it through half of the apples. Plus, the tree is still loaded. It looks like we’ll be needing a lot of wine over the next few weeks.
Rule number one… things always grow faster when you aren’t looking. This past weekend we learned this very quickly after coming home from a wonderful trip with friends in Colorado. After driving through the night to get home early, we came back to a garden ready for picking. It was amazing how fast things had grown, including our favorites… the weeds. After a quick nap this afternoon we headed out to the garden to do some much needed harvesting and clean up. After a few hours we came out with dirty knees and about 50 lbs. of produce made up of green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, a melon, and a pepper. With it being such a nice day out, we decided to bring our summer kitchen sink outside and work under the beautiful blue sky. By the end of the night we had frozen 20lbs of green beans, 3 dozen ears of sweet corn cut form the cob, and 12 lbs of tomatoes.
Though we’ve been eating kale for weeks now, we had our first major harvest the other day. We had an annoying infestation of cabbage moth worms doing some damage a few weeks back, so I spent some time picking off the caterpillars (the chickens LOVED them), and trimming off the worst of the leaves. The plants bounced back after this. Vigorously.
So, we harvested about six and a half pounds in one go, leaving some rather pathetic looking stalks with a few baby leaves growing out the top to re-create the whole plant. We easily threw an equal poundage of leaves to the compost or chickens right from the garden. They were too badly damaged from the worms to be worth using. It was frustrating to toss so much, but made easier by the hefty grocery bags we carried to the kitchen anyway. And especially so by the thought of what a doubled harvest would have meant for preserving work.
The kale leaves were rinsed in a sink of water, trimmed of their center ribs, chopped roughly, dumped into a glass bowl, and microwaved with a little water for a few minutes. Drained, submerged in an ice bath for another few minutes, and spun dry, the now-wilted leaves were smushed and smashed into muffin tins. We found this technique allows us to compact the voluminous kale so it doesn’t take up our entire freezer, but also doesn’t result in a single, massive kale blob. Instead, we now have multiple, serving-size kale bombs, perfect size for tossing into soup or casseroles later this fall and winter when those types of food are actually appetizing. From 6.5 pounds fresh kale, we got about 30 kale muffins, filling about 1 and a half gallon ziplocks. Or, plenty enough.