Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cold Shoulder

Gardening and food storage naturally go hand in hand.  If you have one, you likely have the other.  Both are work, but once the work is done you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

It's that time of the year again to evaluate how you want to preserve your harvests.

Last year was the first time that I canned food since I was a child in my parents home.  THAT was a   l o n g   time ago.  

I started off small.  I canned veggies from our garden...tomatoes, salsas and pickles...and we also bought fruit from the local orchards in the area and put up some peaches and applesauce.

Since I was starting all over from the beginning and had no one in my life who could show me the ropes, I wanted to keep it simple.  I knew that there would be a learning curve. I started with the water bath method and bought a cheap canner from Walmart. 

I also bought the Holy Bible of canning rules and recipes. 

God Bless The Ball Blue Book.

I started with the water bath method for 2 reasons.  Mostly because I wanted to see if I could successfully can food and secondly (and more importantly), I wanted to see if SM and I would actually eat it.

Since I wasn't sure how I'd like canning, we hedged our bets and also bought an upright freezer last year too.  I buy bulk whenever I can and today's tennie tiny refrigerator freezers are just too small for me. 

So I decided to try an experiment in food storage.  Whenever I'd can something, I'd also put the same item in the freezer.  I thought for sure I'd like the frozen fruits and veggies better than the canned stuff.

Boy, was I wrong.  For the most part, canned wins hands down around here. 

But there are some hits and some misses.


SM and I have made a huge dent in the canned tomatoes and canned applesauce.  Not much left. 

The pickles and hot peppers didn't get eaten at all and even though SM said my salsa was a hit, he still buys and eats the store bought stuff.  (!?!) 

The peaches?  They're good, we just don't eat much of them, so I won't be putting any of those by.

The freezer has always been my "go to" for stocking up my food pantry.  Not anymore.  I find the fruits "icy" and the texture is funny on the tongue.  The veggies are just "OK" as I'm cooking them for the most part.  But like the fruit, the texture is different.  So I'm done freezing them.  I'll be canning my beans and tomatoes this year instead. 

I went out Friday morning and did the early summer dance of defrosting the freezer and taking stock of the food I'd forgotten I'd had. 

That's the nice thing about jars.  You don't have to try to figure out what's in them.

I suppose it's kinda like gardening.  When you're new to it, you'll plant everything and anything.  Then you figure out nobody likes radishes and that the peas are "OK" but they aren't their favorite food either. 

So it goes with food storage.  Preserve what they'll eat and preserve a lot of it.  Simple.

So soups and meat and ice cream still have a place to call home.  But I need to consider a proper pantry for this years canned goods as it seems I'll be expanding in that direction. 

And buying or finding more jars. 

And maybe consider a pressure cooker for those foods that I can't water bath. 

Or maybe not.  I don't think I'm ready for that yet.  That still scares me.  Not sure why, it just seems more intense.  More rules.  More opportunities to screw up.

After all, I do still have the freezer to fall back on, don't I?  @;)


  1. I think sometimes we read about and see the old-time pictures of farm wives' canning shelves and think we need to put up everything they did forgetting they were feeding a family of 8-10 with varying tastes and likes/dislikes. (And trips to the grocery store were few and far between!) Especially with just the two of us (as you are also), I'm finding I have to keep from being a madwoman when it comes to canning or freezing everything in sight. You're so wise to stick to just what you and hubby will actually eat. And isn't it interesting that some of us prefer canned and some frozen?

  2. Just get a good pressure canner and you have nothing to worry about. Remember, your car is 100,000 more dangerous, and your in that every day :)

  3. I started out water bath canning, too, simply because I couldn't afford a pressure canner. Now I have canner and I LOVE the thing. Once you've used it a few times your comfort level will go up, I promise. When I have a batch of pickles that aren't super good I use them up in things like potato salad and deviled eggs.

  4. I still get a little scared with the pressure cooker - but I cooked taro in it yesterday, and regularly cooked beans. Haven't actually canned anything in it. I am slowly increasing my confidence that I won't blow up the kitchen!

  5. I was kinda nervous about the pressure canning at first, too, but if you get a new pressure canner and follow the directions, there's really nothing to it. I've used mine for the past 2-3 years, and haven't had any problems at all.

  6. I actually bought a pressure canner last year, then chickened out and returned it to the store! I don't know why I have a fear of it, I have used (and liked) a pressure cooker before. I think I was put off by the canning instructions, and the amount of time it took to heat up and cool down. I really would rather be pressure canning my green beans, rather than freezing them, but the water bath for tomatoes and the freezer for fruits is fine with me. I'm not sure the expense of the pressure canner would be worth it. Then there is the fact that I've lived without one for 73 years.....LOL!