Tuesday, September 19, 2017

2017 Food Preservation Season

I am in the full-thrust of harvest - fermenting, drying, canning, freezing - and have been going hard for a month or more.  It has been an amazing change this year now that my youngest child is four years old,and I have 3-4 helpers who are actually helpful - picking, shucking, hauling, loading, slicing, snapping, cleaning.

Another huge difference from years' past is that I am working steadily through the entire week, rather than saving the bulk of my work for the weekends.  This is huge.  Instead of blow-out weekends that leave me completely stripped, there have been Saturdays or Sundays where I finish my work in the early evening hours.  It has been amazing.

I am getting more done too . . . with steady progress, instead of fits and starts. I am a machine.  I know what needs to be done and how to do it. My output is massive.

As I have said in recent years, I am a "serious home food preservationist".

 Bread & Butter pickles ready for storage.

Sliced cabbage + salt + caraway seeds = sauerkraut

Cucumbers have been prolific this year, so I have gallons upon gallons of sour pickles, bread & butter pickles, sliced dill pickles.  Our green cabbages came in in conjunction with the cucumbers, which left me in a bit of a pickle (haha) with the amount of produce that needed processing.

Also, with the amount of rain we got this year, the green cabbages (but not the purple thankfully) started cracking at the beginning of August.  It was not a good situation . . . they were in tough shape by the time I was able to get to them. (About half-way into the crisis, I got two 5 liter Pickl-Its that made all the difference.) (Pictured above with the sauerkraut.)

Likewise, with the amount of rain and cool weather we had in August, our tomatoes are in a precarious situation.  They are cracking and extremely vulnerable to bug damage.  We are picking them before they are fully ripe; if left on the vine, they are left to the wiles of slugs and bugs. Completely destroyed.

Now for for a slight detour: a small tour of ketchup-making --

 Pre-ketchup: spices, onion, sugar, vinegar, tomatoes

Culling spices in the food mill.

Ketchup refuse

 The final product sealed in the canner.

I am displeased with the ugly rendering of these pictures with my iphone.  YUCK.  My beauty-loving eye sockets are seared with the sheer displeasure of seeing such refuse.

Alas, it cannot be helped.

I use the A Canadian Foodie recipe: Homemade Ketchup with Fresh Tomatoes.

I've been also been making tomato sauce, salsa, and the most delicious oven-roasted tomato concoction: a panful of halved cherry or plum tomatoes, add salt, several crushed garlic cloves, and a few chunks of beef fat, baked at 350 for most of the day and stirred every-so-often.

It roasts down into an umami-filled, rich, reduced . . . I don't know what.  I've used it as pizza sauce or simply as a visually appealing and palate-pleasing addition to a plate.

I am listening to The Brothers Karamasov in the kitchen while I work, now on speaker via my iphone rather than earbuds through my little hand-me-down ipod.  It is an incredibly long book, but well worth the time invested.  I've been absolutely gripped by the story and the many ideas that Dostoyevsky explores.

Finally . . . my Food Preservation Notes. Or, how I taught myself how to do this all.

Though let's give credit where credit is due: the groundwork was laid in my childhood by watching my mom and aunties in the kitchen.  Thanks Muver. (Emoji heart!)

Over and out.



Ashley said...

Woah! The thought of canning anything this year seems overwhelming. I had a long list to start, but it has dwindled down to the essentials -- applesauce. Erik requested applesauce and lots of it. So that's what I'm doing this year. And that is all. I don't know how you did it with babies. It would be absolutely impossible with Otto-boy as he hates being in the carrier, but needs to be near his Ma at all times. And he doesn't nap well (though this is improving). You are a machine! And an inspiration! And a resource I fully intend to use in the years to come when I have the time and energy for such wonderful things! Your family is lucky to have you working so hard to feed them delicious food all year long.

a. borealis said...

Oh my goodness . . . WEEKS later . . . but so it is.

I think maintaining your skills and bulking your pantry with applesauce is perfect. Excellent! Homemade applesauce is the best. And it is so nice to have scads and scads of it.

Not to mention, this is simply "where you are at" in life and beating yourself up for not doing more is tomfoolery. We all have to accept the season of life we are in. I can assure you, when I had a 2yo and a 10mo, I was NOT performing the amazing feats I accomplished in the kitchen this year. ;) THIS year was with a 12yo, almost 10yo, 6yo, and 4yo, all of whom can help, or at least keep themselves out of mortal danger if I pay attention to something longer than a few minutes.

You're doing great! Love you.