Food Preserving Update

This is my second year of putting up food for winter. It was SO MUCH easier this time, than last time. I was able to streamline my preserving tasks.
Our fruit lasted well through the winter last time – it was a treat. We discovered we liked better the fruit I bought at the farmer’s market (peaches, apricots and cherries) than the plums I scavenged from local trees (very sour – needed heaps of honey to make edible). Since for now we can afford to, this year I just focussed on those three fruits. I also bottled the nectarines from our tree. Three simple fruit-bottling sessions (I did nectarines and apricots at the same time) felt very easy and manageable.

We LOVED the tomatoes last year – couldn’t get enough of them, fought over them, were begged to bring them to dinner…. This year instead of buying 60kg, I bought 100kg. Ok, it was probably a bit too much. We did 100 jars. Now we should have two every week, three every other week, and some left over for early summer. Preserving them all when I had a lot else on was very tiring and challenging. But we did it and I’m glad. Paula also made a batch of tomato chutney and a batch of tomato ketchup. YUM. We love the ketchup – a new addition to our reportoire.

I dried some apricots but not enough of them. I ended up buying some apricots for a friend, the farmer ran out, and the next market the apricots had finished. Bummer. Next year I’ll try to ensure I can order well enough in advance. I wanted to do sultanas but there were no grapes this year – not on my vine nor at the farmer’s market. Humidity killed em.

Last year the dried zucchinis were great, but this year we didn’t have a glut. I was trying out a garden idea that I would get more zucchinis from one plant if I just put in one per square meter. Since I only have one square meter to devote to zucchinis, I only put in one plant. Result: barely enough zucchinis. Next year I’m whacking three plants into the one meter, like I usually do.

We didn’t make so many condiments this year. We really couldn’t get through them all, though they were handy to have as gifts. Also this year I didn’t have so many gluts – I managed my growing better, overall, to grow the right amount for us and more variety, so that was good. Just one batch of cucumber pickles as well as the tomato chutney.

This now feels integrated with how we live. Eating from the pantry shelves is fantastic – convenient, delicious, cheap… In fact I saw a jar of bottled fruit at the farmer’s market recently. It was so expensive that I couldn’t help myself from counting up the commercial value of all the fruit on my pantry shelves. By their prices I reckon I have $3000 sitting there in fruit alone. And I probably paid $550 to get it. Most of that was the tomatoes. I was perfectly happy with the workload – it felt minor compared to the results we get. Except maybe for the tomatoes, which I found hard. Maybe I need to get some help next year. Maybe 80kg not 100kg? I’ll see how long it takes us to get through those jars.

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