With a good rain over the weekend and cooler temps these days for the last few mornings I have rose to thick fogs enveloping the holler. It gives an eerie feel to the place just in time for the Halloween season.
Our plans this week involve lots of apples!
Yes I set goals but sometimes break them(sometimes I just can't help myself ). I have a set number of jars and a set number of places and room to store them. So I work within my limitations. For me personally the key to preserving so much food and my family eating it is variety. Sure I could put up hundreds of jars of green beans if I so desired but after awhile my family would run me off I am afraid. So I have a set number in my head. I like to have 100 jars of green beans going into winter. 100 jars of tomato sauce and/or canned tomatoes is also nice. I try to preserve bumper crops knowing that next year I may have a crop failure. Many things there is a supply for probably two years. You would be hard pressed to find anything in my pantry over 2 years old. Things we eat more of I tend to put up more of. Things like pickles and jam that we eat less of these days I put up maybe a dozen jars of and move on. If I have extra fruit I freeze it for wine making.
Perfect example last year I had pumpkin and sweet potatoes coming out my ears. I still have both canned pumpkin, frozen pumpkin, canned sweet potatoes and dehydrated both in my pantry. As a result I have planted no pumpkin this year. I don't need it. Instead I concentrated on another crop that I needed more. I'll grow pumpkin again next year. I did plant 3 sweet potato hills that have done absolutely nothing due to cool weather early in the growing season. Crop failures happen even to me.
I am fortunate enough to have an established garden and fruit trees so if I truly wanted I could put up much more than I do, but realistically we could never eat it all. You will notice throughout the blog over the years that many times I share the excess with neighbors and family. Here the last few years there has also been a produce man that comes around and purchases some of my extra produce. O Wise One takes some of the fresh produce to elderly relatives that live in the area and are too old to garden. For instance we have lots of watermelons right now so O Wise One has been taking them to people that we know that have lots of small children at home. Kids love watermelon. So I fill my own needs first and share the extra. Everything after that I share with the animals and the compost. Absolutely nothing goes to waste.
But I am human. I have a pantry that is 12 foot long by 6 foot wide and 10 foot high. With shelves all the way to the ceiling on both sides. Right now it probably holds over 1,000 jars of canned food of some sort or another not counting pots, pans and other supplies stored in there. I thank God that I did not make the pantry bigger because I would probably kill myself trying to fill it.
I started out canning at my mother's knee. As a child on the farm I was expected to help my mother and from an early age was put to work helping in the gardens. Shelling, picking, peeling and helping to watch the younger siblings. As an adult I have always done some canning even if it was just preserving what I purchased at fruit stand and farmer's markets.
When I lived in Florida (in the suburbs) and worked outside the home I had very little land but did purchase produce to freeze. I had citrus trees and made marmalade and homemade juice from the oranges and grapefruits grown in the back yard. I canned what grew well in the area that I could purchase in bulk. But with a full time job, a growing business that I owned with my husband and 4 small children I was very challenged for time sometimes. But yes I still canned some.
This is the largest amount of land that I have owned personally so this is the most I have canned in my life. These last two decades on this farm have been very productive and with established vines and fruit trees and huge gardens I now can all that I want and then some. Another thing you have to keep in mind is that I have no small children at home anymore. Baby O is 18 now so all of my children are adults and I only feed three people. I have lots of help from O Wise One and many times we can together.
We are truly blessed in that this farm produces much more than we can eat and I could can myself into the grave if I tried hard enough. We can what we need, share what we don't and thank God every day for all of it and the health to do it!
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter