Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

How'd I do in '09?

I like this part of the year: nothing to can yet, just enjoy the fruits of last year's labors. And I am doing my best to enjoy them!

Here's what I did last year: 35 jars of tomato sauce, 12 of cranberry sauce, 20.5 of blackberry jam (and we ran out!), 20 of apple sauce (which I am still enjoying), 6 of strawberry jam, a single jar of delicious yellow plum jam and two of nectarine, 4 jars of yummy zucchini pickles, 7 of green tomatoes and 3 of green-tomato relish (thanks, Arcata summer!), 7 jars of jalapeno rings, 9 of lemon marmelade, 8.5 of fruit chutney, 3 of pepper chutney (not as good as the fruit), 5 of pickled lemony green beans, 3 of red-pepper jelly (we just don't eat enough bagels), and a single jar of cucumber pickles.

...a grand total of 147 pints of canned goods. Not too shabby for a gal's first-ever year of home canning!

But as the empties pile up in my pantry I am curious: just how much did I can this year? That was the season I finally took the plunge and bought a pressure canner. And a new enameled pot for hot-water processing. It feels like I went to town...


I guess I did go to town.

(In case you're curious, that was 39.5 pints of bread-n-butter pickles (just barely enough!), 10 of dill pickle spears and rounds, 8 of sweet pickles (a pain to make, but clearly I need to make more as we ran out pronto), 25 of blackberry jam, 7 of peach jam, 34 of strawberry jam (and that's off only 3 6-by-6 beds), ten of lemon marmelade and 3 of lime, 14 of green beans (that taste just like canned green beans from the store; huh), 25 of fruit chutney (way too much as it turns out), 8 of cranberry sauce (which has only lasted into April because it got hidden behind the blackberry jam in the pantry; we only rediscovered it while searching for more sauerkraut), 7.5 pints of New York-style hot-pepper relish (a big hit, so 7.5 pints was not enough), 28 of pickled hot peppers (jalapenos, rajas, etc), 22 of tomato sauce (better from last year, but still not enough to make it to tomato season this year), 9 of whole tomatoes (which helped but still, we will run short), 17 green tomato pickles (plenty), 6 of sweet zucchini relish, 3 of pickled onion (which will be better next year! I have an idea), one of pickled garlic (still thinking about that), 2 of pickled beans, 2 of tomatillo salsa, 2 of pickled zucchini...pickled beets and radish didn't go over well, so I probably won't go there again.)

It certainly gives me an idea of just how much food a family eats in a year.

Now, I wait for May and what another year of canning will bring me. w00t!

We made it through winter

...with enough to eat; how nice! Seriously, once we figured out that I'd put up enough cans to carry us through to canning season this year, we have been pigging out on pantry yumminess.

It's funny: last year we couldn't get enough of the chutney, green-tomato pickles and jam I made. This year it's pickled peppers, sauerkraut, and straight-up pickles (sweet and bread-n-butter).

Part of my morning routine includes chatting with the folks at the local grocery co-op about all things agricultural. They are a pretty ag-savvy lot! One of the women I like talking to has goats, and yesterday my step-daughter dropped off a quart of fresh goat milk and some home-made chevre from this woman's herd.

I admit to being a little scared of the milk; I know it will have flavor, like all truly fresh food. Will I like it? It still astonishes me that chicken eggs have so much chickeny flavor. Compare the taste of a backyard or farmer's market tomato with its mealy cousin from Safeway and you'll have some idea of the way an egg made by one of our girls tastes.

But back to the goat milk. I don't want to not like it; I might just make fruit smoothies with it and ease into it.

But the chevre; we can't get enough of the stuff. We are very fortunate to have a goat cheese maker right here in town (Cypress Grove) and a store that carries a large selection of NorCal goat cheeses. Since we also have a lot of eggs, what with the longer days, I made us onion-and-chevre omelettes for dinner last night. For garnish we opened a jar of pickled peppers.

It was delicious.