Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Canning Time and a Review of What's In and What's Not

 The big pots are invading my kitchen once again but this year their onslaught is both late and limited. The green beans never sprouted (last time I buy seed from that place) so there were no beans to can. The peaches have only a few scattered fruits on them, enough to eat fresh but nothing to can. The tomatoes are coming on so slowly that we went across the river to the Ohio truck farms last weekend and bought a few bushels to put up. If mine come later, I'll have more to can and that's fine, but I was getting nervous about the few remaining jars of tomatoes in the cellar so this eased my mind.

The cucumbers came on, unfortunately, at the height of the drought and heat. What they produced was warped and mostly bitter. We had enough to eat fresh, but none for pickle making. The second planting doesn't look much better. I made quarts and quarts of them last year, but they were so popular with my family that I now have only 6 jars left out of about 75-100 that I made. I try to keep a two-year supply of everything in the cellar, but the pickles were just too well-liked.

I have made some jam--blackberry, cherry, strawberry and raspberry--and we have plenty left from last year. We also have lots of pears and peaches still in the cellar, but I am waiting anxiously for the apples because the apple butter is almost gone; we didn't make it last year because there were no apples due to frost. I need applesauce too, and cider.

The grapes are hanging heavy and ripening. I am hoping they can hold for another week or more because I will be away at Augusta Heritage teaching storytelling all next week. Being a storyteller is good and bad in the summer. Lots of work, but right in the peak of canning season!

A biggie on my canning list is vegetable soup and beef stew. Those will be on the to-do list when I return from Augusta. We have pulled the onions and they are drying in the shed; I'll cut them up and freeze them when I get home, and I may do some in the dehydrator. My sister Maggie gave me some dried onions a few years ago and I loved them for adding to sauces and soups. The basil will be ready to dry when I get home too; the oregano and peppermint were victims of that bad storm and then the drought finished them off. No peppermint tea this winter <sigh>. The oregano might recover enough to be picked and I still have a good bit from last year.

We are slowly rebuilding our stock in the freezer. I have lots of broccoli, peas and carrots put up this year and have been buying some meats each week to replace what we lost during the power outage.

It's been strange to not be buried in produce this summer but I have to admit it's been a nice break. My cellar is still pretty full even if I don't can another thing, but like most other canners I like to fill every jar by the end of the summer. This might not be the year for that, but we will certainly will not starve. Even in a bad year, there is still plenty and I am grateful for what we have.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

9 comments:

Amy said...

It's great to have a break sometimes, but sorry you had to lose so much produce.

I made white grape jelly and mixed berry jam last week with some friends. Lot's of fun.

Amy

Nance said...

my goodness girl, you do keep busy. I hope I have your energy and resolve when I am finally able to quit work. We have cukes and tomatoes and Lanny is learning to pickle and can. We don't have the garden space and we are having to water this year. We have a well, in town, so that we can water the gardens. Lanny put out soaker hoses. Had he not, we would have had no gardens at all. 105 again today and no rain. We are needing rain and positive thought! from Nance, in southern Iowa

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Despite the wildly different weather we've been having nature has thrown up similar results - no green beans and late tomatoes. Luckily we don't rely on them; I just grow them so that the garden doesn't go to weeds. Take care, Sue.

warren said...

A few weekends ago when I dropped off the straps to Larry, I walked around back to see the progress on the addition and spotted your grapes...they looked awesome even then!

Granny Sue said...

I'm sorry we missed you, Warren! We've been on the go a lot lately. I'll be sure to give you a call when they're ready. There's way more than we can use this year for sure. Two people can only eat so much grape jelly or drink so much juice :) And I'm not into wine-making, although sometimes I wish I was.

Granny Sue said...

Nance and John, this has been a bad weather year everywhere it seems--either not enough rain, too much, too hot or too cool. I have to say, though, the spring was perfect--cool temps, low humidity, just right for being outside. So I should stop complaining. We at least had that.

Granny Sue said...

Isn't it fun to can with someone, Amy? I've done it with granddaughters and daughters-in-law and it makes the job just fly.

Tressa said...

Just a thought. I haven't had any success with my herbs this year. I've been noticing that our local Kroger store has fresh organic herbs that are often marked down to 99 cents. So I have been buying them and drying them. I have tarragon, oragano, and sage. Maybe you could do the same.

Granny Sue said...

Good suggestion, Tressa. I'll check at our Kroger and see what's available.

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