Summertime = Preserving

Ok, back to this whole self sufficiency thing. Yesterday was all about pickles. Brandon called it “extreme pickling” because we were outside using our brew pot and propane tank to process 5 quarts of pickles. This is more produce than I have ever processed at once. I work mostly in small batches, picking up a handful of cucumbers at the farmers market to make two or three pints of pickles. But this time was different.

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It’s interesting to have gone through a year of preserving and eating the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor. I now know roughly how many jars of pickles we need to survive a year of sandwiches. I know how many tomatoes I need to eat pasta for the winter. I know how much jam we can give away and manage to go through ourselves. I have procured a solid library of cooking and preserving books this year. As for tools and equipment, my father was very generous this Christmas and let me free in the “kitchen store” in Jackson where I got a mandolin and a food mill. Since we also got our all grain outdoor brewing setup, we now have equipment to easily can quart jars.

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This all adds up to a comfortable and knowledgeable canning season. Now it’s just a matter of getting the fruit. Since I am now dependent on others to drive me around, getting to the downtown farmers market has been difficult, and they have the best tomato “seconds” stand (ugly ones that are cheaper because they are ugly). The Cabrillo market, which I can get to most Saturdays, does have some lovely pickle vendors as well as a great stone fruit “seconds” stand.

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On the note of stone fruit… Peaches. Loads of them, from my moms tree. We brought home a huge box and my mom helped me can them. We didn’t even get to all of them. After peeling, pitting and cutting, we processed 13 pounds of peaches which included eight pint jars and 12 1/2 pint jars all full of sliced peaches in light syrup. I used the recipe from Food In Jars, the cookbook, and either I did something sadly wrong or she recommends using far too much syrup. We had tons leftover. Luckily I had yet to turn my lemon infused everclear into limoncello, so I used some of the extra for that and I am sure I will find plenty of ways to use the rest (3 quarts…).

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I need to make sure to get cracking on tomatoes though, so I think I will try to get down to the Wednesday market this week and buy out the tomato stand. Might as well do the rest of the peaches then too.

So for now, I will end this evening by finishing up laundry, cleaning the kitchen and letting my puppy warm my feet while I drink some tea and watch a movie. Next time I complain about something, I just need to think of that 🙂

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