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.