Saturday, December 6, 2014

Preserving the Harvest

I'll be perfectly honest. I don't garden because it's my life's passion. I'm just in it for the food. 

I do have a passion for providing my family with the healthiest, best-tasting food I can. Gardening helps me do this. As we plan our gardens each year, I am always looking towards what I can preserve for my family. 

 Although most of our greens were eaten fresh and raw, we did manage to prepare a good amount of Swiss chard for the freezer. It will add color to our meals and give us a delicious remembrance of summer during the long winter months. 

 A few weeks later, we moved on to canning pears. This year's harvest, while large in number, produced pears quite small in size. I was not looking forward to the process of peeling these tiny pears, especially since pears are one of my least favorite canned fruits. However, as they are one of my children's most favorite, I was determined to see it through. All I can say is, thank goodness for Pinterest!

I was able to find a canning recipe for "Depression Pears," which is simply unpeeled, canned pears in light syrup. I was skeptical at first. But, after a little more internet sleuthing, I decided it was worth a try. I canned somewhere around 40 quarts. Based on the fact that the kids devoured about ten quarts within a month, I think they were a huge success. 

Tomatoes came next. Thanks to Dan's ingenuity, we were able to extend the harvest of these beauties far into the fall. Upon seeing the forecast for the first hard frost, Dan built a hoop greenhouse right over the top of all of our tomato plants. With the use of a propane heater and thermostat, we were able to harvest over 400 lbs. by season's end. 

Much of that harvest was enjoyed by our shareholders. Happily, I was still able to preserve over 50 quarts of tomatoes for our family. Some I stewed plain and whole, but most of them were seasoned for Mexican or Italian dishes. There's not a tomato sauce out there than can match home-canned for flavor. Yum!

Slowly, but surely, our pantry was filling up.