Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Overkill or Underutilized?

Every spring, I jot down in my canning journal what we have left in the pantry and freezer.  This helps me determine how much I want to preserve during the coming summer. 

On May 18th, I took stock and this is what we still had...

In the freezer:
3 quarts red raspberries
3 pints chopped zucchini
1 pint crushed strawberries (I just couldn't let us eat this last one)
7 pints beet hummus
5 pints chopped peaches
18 quarts green beans
9 jars roasted tomatoes
grape pie filling for 3 pies
2 gallon bags bell peppers
1 gallon bag chard
10 quarts applesauce
7 quarts chopped rhubarb
3 quarts carrot soup
3 quarts straight grape juice
10- 1 cup portions pesto
4 wedges of pesto torte

In the pantry:
10 quarts grape juice (with sugar)
51 quarts nectarines
6 quarts tomato soup
55 pints tomato sauce
14 pints salsa
8 jelly jars mint jelly
12 jelly jars peach jam
7 pints grape jam
32 quarts applesauce

* Recipes/instructions for everything listed can be found under my Preserving page at the top of this blog.

It may look like we hardly ate anything, but what we put up last summer was significantly more.  It is widely recommended that you should use home-canned items within a year (and that is my recommendation to you).  We, on the other hand, aim to eat them within two years, so I won't be pitching anything yet.  I make sure to pull the items from the previous summer to the front to be used first- in this way they get eaten before the two year mark anyway.

So, the red flags this year were...

Green beans:  We ate a lot of them this winter, but we could've eaten more.  The trap that can ensue is that even though we won't need to freeze as much this summer, we may end up with a lot of green beans and therefore feel compelled to freeze more.  We'll try to resist this compulsion and give away the excess instead, especially because we've been freezing a lot of snow peas.

Canned Nectarines:  Here again, we ate some, but could have eaten more.  Last summer was the first time we canned such a large amount.  They're so much easier to can than peaches since you don't have to peel them, but the kids didn't love the peels, so I would slip off the skins for them (still MUCH easier than peeling).  To be honest, I just kept forgetting they were in there.  I may write nectarines on my forehead.  Anyway, we won't can any this summer, which is awesome.

Applesauce:  We still have 42 quarts left (out of 179), some of which we'll continue to eat, but with fresh fruit available, we'll choose fresh.  I'll likely cut back our amount for next year just a tad.

Tomato Sauce:  This is such a staple for us that I always hate to think of running out of it- no danger of that this year!  I guess I could've been making spaghetti more often.  The pizza every week and the occasional lasagna and baked ziti wasn't sufficient for using all 130 pints up.
 

It hardly ever comes out exactly right.  There are always things I wish we had more of and there are always "leftovers".  Each year, we tweak and plan, but with a growing family with changing (some for the good, some not) tastes, it's impossible.  Just keep good notes and plan the best way you can.  Can.  Get it?


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11 comments:

  1. Just a thought... it's good to have a little extra in case the next harvest should fail for some reason: flood, drought, bug/disease infestation, etc. On the other hand, if the next harvest comes in successfully, the left overs from the year before could be shared with someone in need? It's another way of letting God direct us in regards to what He provides - kind of like Joseph in Egypt who stored up extra and shared when the harvest didn't come in.

    Hoping you have a bumper crop this year!!

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  2. I love these posts...I'm always so amazed at how much you guys grow and put away. Admirable...and inspirational. Not sure if we'll have enough to put away...maybe some tomatoes in the form of sauce and salsa...but I'm pretty sure everything else will get eaten right out of the garden. Although ours IS a smidge smaller than yours. ;)

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  3. Have you considered using your applesauce in baking? A great way to help use it up without it going to waste.

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  4. Your tomato sauce recipe sounds so good to me I may give it a try this summer...here's my rub, I can't stand the way the lemon juice makes the tomatoes taste. Have you ever canned with citric acid instead? If so, does it change the flavor? I'm thinking of freezing my tomatoes this year to get around the adding vinegar/lemon to my tomatoes. Thank you for all your great tips. You make me want to eat healthier!

    Janet

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    1. I usually use vinegar for our tomato sauce instead of the lemon juice and have never tasted it. I haven't tried citric acid because the vinegar works so well for us and I always have it on hand:-). Another way to get around having to use anything is to use straight tomatoes (seasoned only with salt and herbs). You wouldn't get the benefit of all those added veggies, but you'd still get to can it. It's those added veggies that decrease the acidity and require the added lemon juice, vinegar or citric acid. Best of luck to you!

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  5. Oh Jane...you really have a bounty! I had to chuckle at the sheer volume of nectarines you have *left over*! It sounds like you will be able to rest easy in that department this coming season...what a blessing! :)

    Happy gardening my friend!
    Love,
    Camille

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  6. YOUR TIPSTER MENTIONED USING APPLESAUCE ,IVE HEARD IT AND READ IT IN RECIPES BUT NEVER TRIED IT,I THINK I SHOULD START ,IT LOWERS THE FAT CONTENT IN SOME GOODS,ESPECIALLY BAKED,LIKE MUFFINS ,CAKES. i KNOW YOU AND YOUR FAMILY DON'T LOOK LIKE YOU NEED IT ,BUT IN MINE IT COULD BE VERY HELPFUL

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  7. Since you are my "expert gardener" I ask if you have ever had "pink" at the top of canned apple sauce? My mother canned this and she has canned much in her life and says it is okay, just scrape it off. I'm just a little concerned as to what this means. Any ideas? Love, love, love your blog.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think I've ever seen pink at the top of my applesauce. Sometimes the applesauce at the top that's near the air in the jar browns slightly. We just mix it into the rest of the jar and eat it. But I don't know anything about pink at the top. If it's some kind of mold it might be a sign that the jar didn't seal properly. That's all I got. Just to be safe, I would avoid feeding it to infants and small children just in case. I'm touched that you like it here:-).

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  8. I just did my canning inventory a few weeks ago. I can't believe how much stuff I did last summer! (not near as much as you, but still)

    I give my canned goods several years :)

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  9. I think I would be scared if I made it to summer and only had 2 jars still left on pantry shelves. I think you did great! :)

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Just a friendly reminder, if you know me personally please try to refrain from using my name. There are those who may try to locate me, break into my pantry and steal my pickled beets. Thanks:-).

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