On Friday I wrote about being sick of canning. On Saturday I woke up and realized that I was done with the plums, tomatoes, grapes, and red raspberries. Into the basement went the canners and onto the sofa went I for a late morning nap. That evening, my husband lit the first fire of the season in the wood stove, and we cozied up in the living room with a stack of new library books.
My family knows what we love, produce-wise, and as the children get older, I find I am focusing more on quantity than experimentation. Thus the 39 quarts of one kind of salsa, sweet pickles only, and three-fourths of one entire freezer in green beans. It’s boring, yes, but practical. We’ll eat it.
Recently, a hardcore gardening girlfriend—seriously, the woman is a preserving diva—told me that when her kids leave home, she’s going cold turkey on the canning front. She wants to spend her time doing other things. And Costco has good salsa.
I don’t know what I’ll feel like doing when my kids leave home. I’m certainly no canning purist (Costco does have good salsa), and my husband is most definitely not a gardener. But I have a hard time imagining throwing in the canner completely. Putting food in jars is for me what digging holes is for 8-year-old boys: it’s time consuming and kinda pointless (by economic standards), but it’s also deeply satisfying. There’s something primal about harvesting food and squirreling it away for later.
But really, I’m not sure why I spend all these hours and days doing a task that complicates my life. Perhaps the drive is nothing deeper than an urge to “play house.” Perhaps I do it for the narrowed focus that comes with a sharp knife, slippery plums, and boiling water. Maybe it’s because hard work feels good and the being done feels even better. Whatever the reason, it’s strong enough to keep me going year after year.
And now, for this year, I’m done.
Boy, does it feel good.
2014 Garden Stats and Notes
strawberries, frozen, sliced: 7 quarts
strawberries, sugared sauce: 2 pints
strawberries, freezer jam: 6 pints
strawberries, daiquiri mix: 4 pints
mint tea concentrate: a lot
pesto: 9 batches, frozen
zucchini relish: 5 pints and 5 half-pints
applesauce, lodi: 82 quarts
green beans (mostly Roma): 107 quart-and-a-half bags
peaches, Red Haven, canned: 17 quarts
corn, frozen: 15 quarts and 29 pints
nectarines, chopped, canned: 42 quarts
nectarines, dried: 21 pints
red raspberries, frozen: 26 quarts
sweet pickles, canned: 16 quarts
tomatoes, roasted sauce: 36 pints
tomatoes, roasted garlic pizza sauce: 26 pints
tomatoes, red wine sauce: 16 quarts
tomatoes, salsa: 39 quarts and 8 pints
tomatoes, canned: 13 quarts
grape jelly: 9 quarts, 21 pints, and 2 half-pints
grape juice: 10 quarts
plums, canned: 9 quarts
plums, dried: 4 pints
plum jam, canned: 7½ pints
sweet potatoes: 1 heaping bushel
regular potatoes, assorted kinds: 1½ bushels
*Don’t plant the cucumbers next to the zucchini because they—the cucumbers—will die.
*Nectarines are awesome. Order four bushels next year.
*Twenty-four sweet potato starts is the right amount.
*Also, five to six basil plants is perfect.
*Dried plums are easy and tasty, but we have yet to see how popular they are with the fam. Same with the plum jam.
*Maybe we’ll finally have enough salsa?
*Next year, order ahead and get five bushels of Lodi apples in one go.
This same time, years previous: chili cobanero, retreating, the good things that happen, ketchup, two ways, making my children jump, cinnamon sugar breadsticks, September studies. whole wheat jammies, whoooosh!, lemon butter pasta with zucchini, on being green and other ho-hum matters, hot chocolate, coffee fix ice cream, me and mine, and ricotta.