Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gearing Up for 2010 Preserving

Maybe it was when I worked in the professional world that I realized the value of keeping records. I keep a supper notebook. I keep a children's clothing notebook. I also keep a preserving notebook.

A sample entry:

25 August 2009
1 gallon organic beets from Earl - $6
yield: 12 pints pickled beets (SinS)
plus some leftover (I think Earl gave me more than a gallon)

I reference this preserving notebook a lot, especially for prices, suppliers, and quantities. Prior to this notebook, I had to figure out every summer how many freezer boxes I would get from how many dozen of corn (8 dozen ears yields approximately 40 cups cut off corn). I would search through the phone book trying to remember which farmers I went to. I would wonder if $8 for a half bushel of apples was a good price or I should keep looking? (for non-organic, yes, that's a good price around here).

Before I launch into preserving for the year, I take inventory of my freezer and canning shelves. I was very surprised this year by some of the items remaining:
23 c. frozen blueberries
7 boxes freezer strawberry jam
20 quarts whole tomatoes
10 quarts applesauce

Was I subconsciously hoarding? I do recall that I did not make tomato soup often because I didn't want to use up my tomatoes, but Margo, using up the food is the WHOLE POINT. To be fair, I did do several tomato products last year that I used: salsa, tomato chutney, and pizza sauce.

As I counted stuff in my freezer, I noticed with dread that I needed to clean it. I loathe cleaning out freezers, so I do it as little as possible (only the second time for this chest freezer in the eight years we've owned it). It's such a pain to figure out what to do with the stuff and wait for the frost to melt. This year my dear husband schlepped our stuff over to my parents' nearly empty freezer:

Margo: I'm just calling to see if we can use your freezer today - didn't know if you went to Costco and got a bunch of chicken breasts or something.
Mom (laughing merrily): no, no, I wouldn't do that.
Margo: drat.

The frost dropped onto the freezer floor; I scooped it out, broke it up, and set it in my flowerbeds to melt. Using our wet-dry shop vac, I vaccumed up the flour/ice glop left and wiped down the whole thing with dish detergent in hot water.

When it was finally done, I rewarded myself with lots of Ghirardelli.


beth said...

I like your notebook idea!!

Christian - Modobject@Home said...

Ghirardelli indeed! You deserved it, and so did the husband!

In my eyes you are a domestic goddess... honestly, all that preserving -- you amaze me! Can I be like you when I grow up?

Amy said...

I was thrilled to read your entry about canning/freezing and the organization of it all. It must be in the air, because I'm re-organizing my pantry in anticipation of my big tomato canning project this summer. Keeping a notebook of the adventure is just the trick I need as a reference for next year. Thank you for the excellent idea!

Rebecca said...

Hey! Molly! What the heck....! Worlds collide! Or at least exclamation points do....

Margo, that's my cousin, Amy. Amy, meet dear Margo.

A said...

I'm so relieved to hear others are left with bounty too come summer time. I looked at the strawberry jam still left in my freezer and thought: "What?"

I even discovered 2 bags of shredded zucchini today! Better make zuccini bread quick before it's time to make it again ad nauseum.

Also, did you know there's a follow up to Simply in Season called something like "Preserving the Seasons: How to Can, Freeze or Dry Practically Anything" ?
Naturally I got it, and also naturally I haven't gotten to look closely at it yet. Let me know if you already know it all, or if you'd like to borrow.

Jennifer Jo said...

Oh man. You're making me feel guilty. I HATE doing the freezers, partly because it means my head is in a box down in the basement and I can't watch the kids and they get into all sorts of horrible calamitous trouble and then all hell breaks loose when I arise from the depths and ....

You get the point.

Margo said...

A, I'd love to look at it!

Amy, pleased to meet you! I had already trotted over to your blog and I was thinking you had to be connected to Rebecca somehow.

JJ, that's why I enlisted my husband. In fact, any work in the basement has to involve both of us because the kids aren't allowed down there and of course they are insanely attracted to the basement because of that.

Beth said...

Yay for a dreaded job done - and not to be done again for a long time. I am sure it feels great.

Good for you on getting so organized for preserving your summer produce. It's exciting!

Laura said...

The notebook is such a great idea! Although my parents can and freeze enormous quantities of fruits and vegetables, I never have - and I should. From time to time I freeze some vegetables from the garden, but it would be fun to have rows of produce in the cabinet as proof of my labors. Perhaps I'll ask my parents if the kids and I can help them this year... .

Margo said...

Laura, what a blessing to have experienced perservers in your family! I know some people who want to preserve, but are just overwhelmed by a totally new field of knowledge.