I've been spending a lot of time the last couple months picking from our small garden, visiting the farmers market - canning and freezing. A friend of ours jokes that at least we'll all be ready for the expected jam shortage of 2010.
Sometimes preserving can be frustrating. Sometimes it's hot, the kitchens hot, canning makes it hotter. Sometimes I have 30 lbs of tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter when my son is suddenly rushed off to the hospital. Many times I'd rather be doing something else.
But most of the time I find a sort of peace in the entire process. Most of the time I feel very connected to the earth, to all the women before me that spent hours and days putting up food. I feel grateful for our garden, for our farmers. I feel confidence and strength in knowing that we have a full pantry and that I stocked it with fresh, real foods. That even though I love my full size freezer, there is a certain satisfaction in having so many shelf stable foods.
I do a lot of small batch preserving and that's enough for me. For now. I feel so, very thankful that I am able to treat preserving as a hobby and not a live or die necessity. That I am simply supplementing my families food supply and not stocking up for the entire winter.
I haven't tracked my freezer inventory yet, though I know I have many quart and half quart containers of green beans, peaches, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and corn. I also have several jars of refrigerator pickles and one quart experiment in drying (corn).
So far my 2010 preserves are:
Sweet Pickle Relish - 11 half pints
Peach Salsa - 2 pints, 1 half pint
Corn Salsa - 7 pints
Green Beans - 4 pints
Fresh Salsa - 3 pints, 2 half pints
Peach BBQ Sauce - 1 pint, 2 half pints
Chicken Wing Sauce - 1 pint, 2 half pints
Pizza Sauce - 1 pint, 6 half pints
BBQ Sauce - 3 pints, 1 half pint
Taco Sauce - 2 pints, 1 half pint
Peach Almond Jam - 3 half pints
Chicken Stock - 2 pints
Hamburger Dills - 3 pints
Zucchini Pickles - 3 pints
Dilled Beans - 3 pints
Blueberry Jam - 4 half pints
Strawberry/Raspberry Jam - 5 half pints
Cherry/Raspberry Jam - 4 half pints
Strawberry Jam - 3 half pints
Blueberry Vinegar - 1 pint
Strawberry Vinegar - 1 pint
Strawberry Vodka - 1 quart
Blueberry Vodka - 1 quart
Cherry Vodka - 1 quart
Green Tomato Relish - 2 half pints
Tomato Basil Sauce - 2 quarts, 7 half pints
Dill Spears - 2 pints
Basic Pasta Sauce - 3 quarts, 4 pints
Ketchup - 6 half pints
Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup - 3 quarts
Brushetta in a Jar - 5 pints
I'm hoping to squeeze one more round of pizza sauce out of my garden. Next comes apples, pears, peppers. Oh boy. And having the pressure cooker now, once the season ends I hope to can more chicken stock, beef stock, chili, soups and things.
Most of the recipes I pulled from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. The jam recipes I made using Pomonas Universal Pectin.
Are you preserving? Large batches or small? What do you love about it, or hate about it? Why do you do it? What is your must preserve food/recipe?