Is the thought of growing or preserving your own food overwhelming? I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to “Go Big or Go Home” and spend days on end hoeing rows in the garden or toiling over chopping boards and canners. Doing little batches is perfectly okay, and a lot less intimidating when you are just getting started in food preservation.
This weekend is a great example of that. My little garden that I almost didn’t plant has had a pretty good year this year. (See My 2020 Garden Mantras: Better Late Than Never And A Little Bit Is Better Than Nothing)
This week I had way too many tomatoes to eat before they went bad, even with eating sliced tomato on my sandwich at lunch every day and toast with tomatoes for almost every dinner lately. Oooh, and on a side note, try topping toast and tomatoes with a little crumbled goat cheese – oh. my. stars!
Anyway, I decided to put up some diced tomatoes in the freezer this weekend. I just like the taste of them frozen better than canned (same with corn).
Once I peeled them and diced them up, I ended up with eight cups total. (I wish I had thought to weigh them first just because I’m curious how much it took to make the eight cups.) I put two cups each (equivalent to a 14 oz. can from the store) into freezer bags and squeezed as much air as possible - carefully without squeezing out the juice (as me how I know). I like to lay my bags of freezer foods flat - they can be stacked neatly in the freezer and they are also quick to thaw out!
It took me about an hour to do. Will eight cups change the world in my food supplies? No, but I sure will enjoy every bite of those extra flavorful homegrown tomatoes later. I love knowing that they came from my very own garden and there’s nothing but beautiful tomatoes at the peak of ripeness in there. We use two to four cans of petite diced tomatoes a month in our cooking. Having these in the freezer means four fewer cans of diced tomatoes I’ll need to buy.
We also harvested over a pound of jalapenos this past week and needed to do something with them before they shriveled up. I canned four half-pint jars of pickled jalapenos that we can store easily and have an extra almost-full pint jar that will go straight into the refrigerator to eat now. That also took me about an hour.
Our green beans also had a great year! We pressure-canned beans in three different batches as the beans came in. Each time we put up 17 to 21 jars and we ended up with a total of 58 pints of green beans. Now that is enough to last just the two of us for a year - those small batches add up!
Here's just some of the beans we pressure-canned this year.
You also don’t have to grow everything yourself to preserve food for your family. We still throw the cashiers for a loop when we roll up the grocery checkout with a couple of full flats of berries when we find them at a good sale price. I freeze those for future use in pies, cobblers, smoothies, jams, and my (should be famous) berry syrup. ;)
We also used to purchase corn by the box/case at the farmers market when we lived in Colorado. We would spend the day shucking, blanching, cutting the corn off the cob, and freezing it. Oh man, nothing tastes better all year long than sweet summer corn put up at its peak.
So, if you can get fresh fruits and vegetables on sale or at your local farmer’s market, take advantage of that and put them up – canning, freezing, or dehydrating. It’s okay to preserve foods in small batches. Do what you can with what you’ve got. Every little bit gives you more control over the food your family eats!