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? @;)