The rains have stopped – the sun has appeared – and the garden is finally in full harvest mode!
From a fresh food perspective – it just doesn’t get any better than this time of year. Almost every meal or snack at home comes straight from the garden : Stir fried zucchini, carrots, onion and peppers – big salads topped with fresh heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots , onions and more – eggs and fried potatoes – fresh salsa with peppers, tomato, garlic and onion – corn on the cob – and my favorite (although not as healthy) – fresh blackberry pie!
But beyond the incredible fresh food menu – harvest time also means canning and preserving goes into full swing at the house!
Although growing and preserving our food certainly saves on grocery bills – our real goal has always been to know where our food comes from and how it was grown. It is a very satisfying feeling to know that not a single ounce of pesticides or artificial fertilizers are ever used to grow the food in our garden. Likewise – it’s just as comforting to know that any jar pulled from our canning cabinet or freezer throughout the year is completely free of preservatives.
The key to having our own year-round healthy “food supply” is creating a list of what we like and use throughout the year – and then planning and planting the garden to meet those “food preserving” goals.
Put simply – we take the foods that our family enjoy the most throughout the year, calculate an average of what we use of each throughout the year – and make sure we can grow accordingly. Each year, we update the list based upon any changes (like realizing we can never make enough salsa for the kids!) – and adjust the plan. With that said – here is our updated canning and preserving goal list this year:
The 2015 Canning And Preserving List
Tomato Juice : 48 quarts
Salsa : 24 Pints
Picante Salsa : 24 pints
Hot Pepper Mustard : 24 pints
Pasta Sauce : 18 Quarts
Green Beans : 24 pints
Pizza Sauce : 6 pints
Hot and Spicy Ketchup : 3 pints
Strawberry-Honey Jam – 6 pints
Blackberry-Honey Jam – 4 pints
Apple Butter – 6 pints
Pickles – 12 to 16 pints of assorted varieties
Popcorn – 12 quarts (not canned – just dried and sealed)
A few jars each of jalapeno rings, banana pepper rings, hot pepper flakes, cowboy candy, cayenne pepper powder, chili powder and taco seasoning.
Chili – 24 quarts (we freeze them into quart bricks)
Tomato Soup (18 quarts)
Vegetable soup – 24 quarts
Jalapeno, Cajun Belle and Mini Belle peppers for appetizers
Corn – 30 frozen quart bags
Stir Fry Packets – 24 packets of onions, peppers, and sugar snap peas for stir fry
Happy Gardening, Harvesting and Canning – Jim and Mary