Storing the Harvest



Row after row of jewel toned fruits and vegetables line the canning room shelves.   Bags of halved peppers, green beans, peas, and corn fill the freezer along with foraged berries from the wild part of our land.  Dried tomatoes, herbs, and shelled beans fill colorful jars on the kitchen counters.  Our sour cherries are frozen, canned, and dried along with apples and peaches from a neighboring farm.  Pesto and chutneys fill the shelves.  Flavored vinegars and oils wait to add zest to our meals.  Over 40 cured winter squash decorate my son’s music studio in our basement.  While boxes of cured sweet potatoes and potatoes are stacked in cool storage.  Our cold storage (a dedicated refrigerator) is overflowing with fall apples, winter radishes, turnips, cabbage, and rutabagas.  I am ceaselessly amazed by how much of our produce we are able to enjoy throughout the year. 


When we moved to our few acres of heaven thirteen years ago, I didn’t know a dehydrator from a pressure cooker.  I’d never heard of blanching to stop enzyme activity.  I’d never successfully grown anything but tomatoes, a few bush beans, and a single row of corn.  I knew my grandmothers had gardened and canned, and I was close to aunts and cousins who still did so.  I was pretty sure I could figure it out with a little help from family. 

So I planted a garden – see Rule Breaking Gardening for that particular adventure!  I bought a deep pan for canning in a boiling water bath.  My husband surprised me that first Christmas with Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving.  And I purchased canning jars, lids, and rings.  I started with tomatoes because that is, after all, why we all really garden. Then I expanded out into fruit pie fillings and jams.  Did you know that it is nearly impossible to get jam to “a full rolling boil” on a glass-topped electric range?  I finally learned why when the appliance repair man explained that these types of burners sense when the pan is hot and cycle off periodically.  Lots of ruined jam paved the way to that discovery!


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