Grit Blogs > Gardening with Vickie

Gathering and Preserving the Harvest

A photo of Vickie MorganBusy time of year in Michigan for gardening – bringing all the vegetables and putting them up. What ever the means you use to preserve your harvest – drying, canning, or freezing your garden vegetables. It’s time to get it done. The garden has helped so much over the years making our grocery dollar last longer while providing us with healthy vegetables in the winter.

Canning, as a means of preserving, has been around for a long time. As city kids we loved going to Arkansas to visit my grandparents in the country and I remember Grandma’s big vegetable garden. Grandma spent many hours canning all the produce she harvested out of the garden. I remember a story my Mom tells of grandma leaving grandpa in charge of the canner full of peas while she was busy elsewhere. Grandpa forgot about them and the lid blew off leaving grandpa with pea sized burns on over his face and hands. Of course, this was many years ago and since then canners are much more reliable.

Grandpa in the field

So far this year I’ve canned beans, salsa, vegetable soup, strawberry jam, dried shuck beans, and I’ve also dried corn for the first time.

Green beans ready for preserving

My husband Bat comes from Kentucky, and shuck beans are one of our favorite ways to fix green beans. You can dry shuck beans in a couple of ways – after stringing them and breaking them up you can take needle and thread and go through each bean then hang to dry; or you can try the method we use, which is to spread them out on a sheet and put them in the sun to dry, making sure to bring them in at night so the dew won’t get on them.

Ways to dry green beans

You can also dry corn without the use of a dehydrator. After cutting the corn off the cob, spread evenly on a cookie sheet and dry for 12 hours at 150 degrees.

I’m still getting produce out of my garden even though it flooded twice this summer. Yesterday I picked a half bushel of tomatoes, and today I will can quart jars full of vine ripe tomatoes that will be good for chili and soup on a cold Michigan winter’s day.

What my garden has not been able to provide us with we have bought from local farmers. I bought some peaches this last weekend at the peach festival in Romeo, Michigan, and yesterday I bought 50 pounds of unclassified potatoes and a half bushel of yellow delicious apples. Now, what to do with all those apples, there’s … pie filling, applesauce, fried apples…

Shelves filled with preserved food in jars
vickie
10/13/2009 5:13:40 PM

Dave, I'm so glad you tried it again this year - I love to can the meals in the jar as you call them so easy to fix a meal in the winter and the taste is so good. I canned apple pie filling also another easy one -to make a pie for thanksgiving dinner is gonna be a cinch. Believe it or not I tried pickles for the first time this summer and they turned out great -I got the recipe from a article written here in grit magazine about heirloom recipes by Jan Hasselman Bossman's family. It can be a lot of work but by winter you've forgotten it all and you just taste that good summer produce -in a jar vickie


nebraska dave
10/13/2009 10:36:38 AM

Vickie, I don't really remember my Mom canning much but she always had a big garden until we moved to town from the farm. Never did she have another garden, but I made a wild stab at it a couple times with only help from my Dad. I never understood why she didn't want a garden as we had close to an acre in back of our house. My Dad helped me with enterprising ideas like growing sweet corn and potatoes for summer markets. I did make a little extra change, but I wasn't really into the work involved to be an urban farmer-marketer during my teen years. Now I would love to have that old place back and be able to grow produce on the land. I did learn how to can from books about 25 years ago and did some for a while but my wife grew up doing massive canning every year and didn't want anything to do with it. My skills have lain dormant for almost 25 years, but this year I decided to get back into the swing and bought all the stuff to begin canning again. The next thing to decide is what to can that I will eat. It doesn’t do any good to can if it isn’t going to get eaten. So the first year back to canning has netted me many jars of tomatoes for chili and many jars of vegetable soup. I love soup. I call it a meal in a jar. Next year maybe I’ll expand a little and try pickles or maybe jelly.