The rains have stopped – the sun has appeared – and the garden is finally in full harvest mode!

Fresh salads are one of the best ways to enjoy the garden's bounty this time of year
Fresh salads are one of the best ways to enjoy the garden’s bounty this time of year

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!

Home made pickles!
Home made pickles!

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.

Strawberry and ladyfinger popcorn are a delicious, healthy snack - and easy to grow!
Strawberry and ladyfinger popcorn are a delicious, healthy snack – and easy to grow!

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

Freshly canned salsa
Freshly canned salsa

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.

Freezer:

Sweet corn is easy to freeze!
Sweet corn is easy to freeze!

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

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