Being Prepared to Preserve Food

| 1/23/2012 12:51:57 PM

Cheryl in Texas head shotYou've got to be ready to strike when the iron is hot – a future jam story.

Right before Christmas, my wonderful hubby and I stopped in at our local grocery store on the way to our homestead to pick up some lunch for later that day. Immediately inside the door, I spotted half pints of blackberries on sale for 67 cents! And I had thought the $1 I paid two weeks before was a great deal. The more we booted it around, we decided that this is part of what being self-reliant is about. We may not be able to grow our own berries (yet), but when you find something like that on a super good deal, you have to be prepared to take advantage and stock up. So we bought five flats! We saved $2.30 per half pint. Now that's some power bargain shopping. They're really good, ripe, tasty berries too.

I wish we had time that weekend to just make them all into jam. But alas, being the last weekend before Christmas, that just wasn't going to happen. And I think we're low on jelly jars too. So I washed them all up and got them into the freezer in 6 cups portions. But first I froze them spread out on trays so that they're individually frozen and don’t just become a big frozen blob. Now they're ready to be turned into jam or syrup or a cobbler whenever we want. It helps that we have an extra freezer. But I really like having things canned, because they won't ruin in the event of a power outage. And if our previous attempts at making jam are any indication, the blackberry should be pretty darn tootin good too.

So far, since this summer, we've made peach jam and canned peaches from a half bushel we bought at the farmers market, plum jam when we found plums on a really good sale at the grocery store and raspberry jam when we found raspberries for a really good price.  Other than the peaches, which were a planned purchase, all the others were spur of the moment decisions when we found a good deal on some produce. 

I don't know if there is such a thing as a big enough kitchen for us...because we actually use ours!  And we have a LOT of stuff to go in it.  But you have to have the proper equipment and supplies if you're going to be able to put up your own food.  Especially because it can happen spur of the moment.  Now once we get our orchard and garden going, we can do more planning for harvest time.  Producing our own foods to put up is the best case scenario.  But I also like having the ability to take advantage of a good deal when we come across it - especially when it's something we like to eat.  And I'll tell you what, there's nothing like going to a cabinet and grabbing a homemade jar of jam when the last one is empty.  Not to mention the immense satisfaction of knowing you made it yourself and know exactly what's in there.  Or being able to grab a jar for a gift - I mean, seriously, who on earth wouldn't want (or ever get tired of) a jar of homemade jam as a gift?!

Until next time, worms rule and bees rock.

1/25/2012 2:31:39 AM

We use a mix of freezing, canning and dehydrating to preserve food. By far, learning to can was the most fulfilling. It was like I'd wrought some kind of magic when the cans began pinging as they sealed. What a great topic for a blog post and a timely one, too! I have some frozen raspberries that are begging to be made into jam...Maybe a (tasty) project for tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration, Cheryl!

1/25/2012 12:47:34 AM

Cheryl, the unexpected bargains are indeed the sweet things (pun intended) of life, aren't they. Buying in quantity and freezing for later processing is a great way to store thing temporarily. I don't really trust the electrical grid either. If food is canned, it will keep no matter what. Unless it freezes of course but the power would have to be off in the winter a long time before that happens. I'm working on an insulated food storage room in my basement and I might even get it finished one of these years. This year side tracked me with the very warm weather that allowed me to work outside up until a couple weeks ago. I did get the seed starting station ready for trying to start seeds this year. My last attempt was a flop but hopefully this year will be better. Have a great bargain hunting day.

Lori Dunn
1/23/2012 8:34:04 PM

Cheryl, It is the best feeling to open the pantry door, take food off the shelf, and know it was grown and preserved by little ole you! How satisfying! You are correct that it takes lots of space in the kitchen to store these tools to preserve with. I have a boiling water bath canner, pressure canner, various strainers, and large pots and dishpans to store, but all make life a whole lot easier!

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