(written by Sam)
For some reason this year I really resisted the beginning of preserving season. Perhaps because it’s a lot of work? However, as I’ve found most years, once I start it’s almost addicting!
Our old lazy dog Molly always gets SO excited when I open a new bag of dog food and pour it into her food bucket. She stands there wagging and sniffing and grinning, happily anticipating having plenty of food for the next few weeks.
And that is exactly how I feel when I look at a box full of beautiful canned food!
Preservation season has officially begun at our farm! So far we’ve done:
I estimated this is about 60 lbs of apples off the Transparent apple tree, which has produced quite well in the last couple of years. Transparent apples are wonderful because they’re so ridiculously early (mid- to late-July!), but as far as apples go, they’re not all that tasty. They seem to have 2 states: unripe, and horribly dry and mealy, with about 20 seconds of perfectly ripe in between.
Luckily, they make GREAT applesauce, so that’s what we did with almost all of them this year:
Had a couple of hiccups along the way, of course, being the first canning of the year, and the first canning in this house. The biggest problem was we managed to bust through the bottom of the sieve, so a lot of peels ended up in the applesauce. After we realized the sieve wasn’t actually doing anything, we decided that our applesauce would just have peels in it this year and ran the immersion blender through the whole giant stockpot before canning. Oh well.
I figured I made about 6 gallons of applesauce, and canned most of it to save for winter. Yum!
Another experiment I started is sauerkraut.
Adam grew some just beautiful, amazingly dense green cabbages (this one probably weighed almost 5 pounds). And some kind of buggy purple cabbages (stupid whitefly). I chopped it up, along with a few grated apples.
I followed a recipe from The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home (which is a book I totally totally love). Although really, it’s so easy it can hardly be called a recipe. Chop cabbage, add about a tablespoon of salt per pound of cabbage, and mix. Let it sit for a few minutes, and the cabbage will make its own brine! Then pack it into jars.
Weigh down the cabbage with something heavy (or be creative…legos are replacing the weight in one of these jars), loosely cover (cloth is fine), and let them sit in a cool place (<20 C) for a week or so. And poof! Sauerkraut! Bacteria are cool like that.
Adam harvested all the garlic, about 600 heads in all
It’s curing in the garage (apparently farmers used to cure it out in the field, but now there’s so much UV light that makes it through the atmosphere that the garlic gets burned if you cure it that way. Yikes.)
And last, blackberries are exploding into tastiness all around us!
I’ve already made a batch of (completely failed-to-gel) jelly (I mean…syrup…yeah, that’s it). And there are still tons and tons of blackberries scattered around the farm, threatening to take over from the perimeter. Blackberries somehow manage to be so tasty and so threatening at the same time.
The days are quickly getting shorter (we’re closer to the equinox than the solstice now), the chickens and turkeys are starting to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and sometimes at night it’s feeling a bit cold. The preserving will ramp up in the next few weeks as the last vegetables ripen (c’mon tomatoes! You can do it!)