Thursday, February 17, 2011

TO CAN OR NOT TO CAN?








I was struggling with what my first post would be, seeing that I have about 8 years of ideas to write about, choosing wasn't easy so I woke up this morning and had a message on my FB from a good friend.  A nice word of encouragement about this new blog and an interest in maybe seeing something about canning on this page.  So here goes....(thank you C.P.) When I first started a garden here I thought and dreamed about tons of fresh veggies then I woke up one day and that is what I had TONS of fresh organic vegetables! Great right? Yes and no...I went overboard with my planting wanting to get right into being a farmer that I didn't think ahead to stagger my harvest.  So I had 5 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of cucumbers, 3 kinds of green beans, lettuce oh my did I have lettuce I don't even remember how many kinds we planted but it was more than my crisper could handle that's for sure...We had asparagus, pumpkins, watermelon, corn, squash, zucchini, strawberries and blueberries, onions and potatoes, and more basil than I could use in 3 years...I gave some away to the very few people I know out here and then sat down with a book about canning.  Couldn't be that hard...I could just in-vision my pantry shelves neatly stocked with veggies we grew with our own bare hands.  All different sizes of glass mason jars bearing home made labels...well that was a vision...little did I know how much time it takes to actually can that many vegetables...pealing tomatoes skins took 4 days, green beans took another 2 and making pickles took 3 more days...It is an all day process and once you start there is no sence in stopping until it is done because there is a LOT of clean up involved...in the end my kitchen look like it was hit with a tornado, my hands were raw from the acid of the tomatoes and the vinegar from pickling and I was too tired to do anything else that needed to be done.  And then when I sat there staring at the empty cases of mason jars that I had just spent a weeks salary on it hit me...I DON'T LIKE CANNED VEGETABLES! Why did I just take beautiful, bright, crisp, green beans and can them into salty water so I can pull them out in a couple months and serve mushy green beans? Granted they do taste better from a jar then they do a can and someday I am sure that the overhead of buying all the jars will eventually go back to the black...but truly it wasn't what I wanted for my family...So we shopped around and purchased a stand up deep freezer.  Not that canning doesn't have it's place...We still can tomatoes and some mixed bean salad, garlic pickles, and for my country husband tomatoes and macaroni are on this years list (which for a Jersey girl growing up with great Italian food it sounds disgusting to me, but he loves it so I will do it for him) So now we freeze almost everything...and I have learned to stagger my harvest by planting a few weeks apart making sure we have fresh vegetable all summer long. (I will address that more in another post) I make a few huge pots of tomato sauce over the summer and freeze them quart size containers (which greatly helps reduce the piles of basil everywhere too).  I grate my zucchini and put 3 cups to a container for my zucchini bread recipe (will post later) I blanch and freeze my spinach and asparagus, and I cook and cube my pumpkin and squashes for pies and casseroles before freezing them in their future recipe measurements for easy use later on.  I guess it was one of those things that I thought I had to be able to do in order to feel like I was really a country girl :) What I have found out is that it takes a lot of time.  If you have the time and like canned vegetable sure it is a good thing to learn.  For me I am going to stick to freezing most of our produce, canning just a few things maybe one or two days during the summer and spending the time saved with my family...                                                      







5 comments:

  1. Laura-Lisa,
    Thanks for stopping by Homestead Revival. The food grade drum at the farmers market is a great idea! Very clever! I've been saving coffee grounds like crazy. I'm surprised at how little I actually use - seems like we drink a ton of coffee - apparently not as much as Starbucks! I think I'll hit them up for some more... I just set up a worm composting bin to make worm tea and I hear they love coffee grounds.

    I really don't like to can anything except Roma Tomatoes, relishes, jams, and pickles. Just about everything else I either eat fresh or freeze. You might look into Eliot Coleman's book FOUR SEASON HARVEST. This is the direction I am working towards - growing seasonal produce most of the year and using a hoop house in the winter (and yes, we get plenty of snow).
    Have a great weekend!

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  2. We also freeze more than we can. We just prefer the taste of so many things frozen. I also freeze tomato sauce and salsa and spaghetti sauce that I make from our tomatoes. From our experience, we've found that most things result in less wasted space in the freezer if we freeze it in ziploc freezer bags laid flat to freeze. We used to mostly use containers, and found that the bag method enabled us to get more produce in the same amount of space.

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  3. I do more canning than freezing just because I keep running out of freezer space. Also, if the power ever went out, I wouldn't need to worry about all of my canned goods. I primarily can green beans, salsa/tomatoes, applesauce and pickles.

    Stopping by from the Barn Hop. If you have a chance, stop by at:
    www.financiallyfree4ever.blogspot.
    Thanks!
    JanelleS

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  4. I definitely freeze more than can. I've come to many of the same conclusions- I just don't care for canned veggies as much, plus much of the nutrition is gone. But, I had a blast canning applesauce, salsa, tomato sauce, and pickles this year. So it takes a little bit of both, I guess.
    Thanks for sharing this post at the Homestead Barn Hop! Hope to see you again next week!

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  5. I found this post pretty interesting and the comments also. I am just the opposite! I love canning. It is my favorite thing to do. But I also store food fresh in my root cellar and dehydrate. Could be because I live in an off-the-grid homestead and a freezer is just not an option at this time. Though we don't really care for frozen foods, unless it is ice cream. At least if you have some food canned and your power grid fails you won't lose ALL your food. Just a thought. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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