Monday, August 27, 2012

Garden and Canning Update

Vintage Canning Poster

Let's talk a little about gardening and canning now that we are reaching the height of canning season.

My garden is reaching its peak soon and I am awash with food to preserve. Most we just eat fresh, but some we preserve for later in the year. Yum!

I've already done some berries (strawberry freezer jam, raspberry jelly, and blueberry-lime jam), and cherries (Drunken Cherries, and cherry-amaretto jam), all from my yard.  I froze any blueberries and cherries I didn't get around to canning. Then I took a break.

Now peaches have arrived (from a local farmer, though I hope to plant a peach tree this fall), and my plums are juuuuust about ripe. My daughter and I made some peach/blueberry pie filling, and my husband is making noises about peach butter or ginger-peach preserves. Then, plum chutney!

And since the tomatoes are coming in, I'll be doing my special Roasted Goodness Spaghetti Sauce (frozen, not canned, because it's too hard to get the right amount of acidity for safe canning with all the roasted veggies I put in). That's one of our family's favorites.

I also have frozen a lot of pre-chopped carrots and onions for ease of use in stews and soups later in the year.  We grew a ton of carrots this year.  Some are destined for spaghetti sauce, but many are being blanched and frozen for other stuff this winter.

Have my first eggplant this year; we'll see how that is. We're eating a ton of green beans right now; I may have to freeze some for later. And we harvested a ton of garlic this year! We'll be vampire-free for some time to come, I think.

Our apples are almost ripe, so applesauce season is just around the corner. I have my first Gravensteins this year, so I'm excited about that. Our other apple trees are just starting to bear as well, so I sense a big applesauce season this year!  I love homemade applesauce.

However, I'm most excited over getting my first couple of pluots this year! Pluots are a cross between plums and apricots. Apricots don't grow well in my area, so I grow these instead. They are about 75% plum, but with some of the texture and feel of an apricot. Some people feel that pluots are better than plums for fresh eating. With the right type, I would agree!

I planted some pluot trees several years ago, but never got any before now.  I have several different types for cross-pollination purposes, but the one that fruited first was Dandy-Dapple pluot. WOW, how delicious!  A nice cross between sweet and tart. There are recipes for pluot jam out there, but I don't think many will make it to the jam jar next year.  Too good for fresh eating right off the tree!

Anyhow, enough about my garden.  Let's talk about canning a bit, because it can help preserve all this wonderful goodness for later in the year when very little is fresh, and because it's a good way to put aside food for emergencies or leaner times.  Yet many people are surprisingly reluctant to take up canning.  Why is that?

So in the next week or two, let's talk a little bit about canning and freezing.  It's another way for people of all sizes to pursue "slow food" and Health At Every Size.  And it just tastes good!

*What have you been growing and/or canning this year?

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