Preserving the food you grow

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by Backyard Buddies, May 11, 2007.

  1. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    I've been a gardener for years but since having chickens, I'm getting even more serious about it. Chickens are helping to turn me into a greenie, local food, sustainable living, organic as much as possible (yay chicken poo!) kind of gal. With this budding mindset it seems that it would be smart to start canning and preserving some of my extra veggies.

    I don't have a lot of space to grow veggies, but we do have a very long growing season, so it's sometimes possible to get two seasons into one. I haven't often done that because we only ate what we grew and gave away the extras. I'd like to change that this year.

    Please share some hints, tips, and great books and recipes with us. I just know there must be some people on this list who have this down already, others who are growing in their skills, and those like myself who would like to get started. Let's inspire one another!
  2. cookinmom

    cookinmom Songster

    Mar 14, 2007
    Saint George GA
    There is a great book that my mom had when I was a kid, called Stocking Up. I bought the updated version some years back through a book club. You may be able to find it at the library, and probably on Ebay or Amazon for a decent price. It pretty much tells you how to preserve anything preservable, by any method usable for that food. The Ball Blue Book is considered the Gold Standard for canning, giving the best processing times and current USDA guidelines. You can get it for about 4 bucks from their website, or if you know anybody that cans, they probably have one you could borrow.

    I canned stuff with my mom as a kid, and it was very satisfying. I haven't done much since I had kids, but like you, am wanting to get serious with it now. I second that 'Yay chicken poo!'

    Good luck to you!
  3. K8tieCat

    K8tieCat Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Northern California
    Hi BB, I'm about 4 hours north of you in Placer County. I have a veggie garden every year and do quite a bit of canning, freezing and drying. It sure does help on the grocery bill. In recent years I've tried bit by bit to make the garden smaller since my kids have grown up and I live alone. No matter how I try, though, it seems like I still supply the neighborhood with lots of stuff.

    My favorite item to manage is my 60 year old Harrelson apple tree. It is a cross between a McIntosh and a Gravenstein. Fabulous juice, yummy applesauce, best ever apples for pies, and terrific dried fruits for snacks and cooking.

    Don't know how the garden is going to thrive this year after diving off into chicken land. Even though my 12 little ladies only free range while I'm out with them, I'm sure they'll be heading for the new garden items when I'm not paying attention.

    Some of the things I've processed are:

    Canned: Corn, potatoes, tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste, zuchhini and cucumber pickles, okra, blackberry jelly, apple jelly, apple butter, sauerkraut, jalepenos and several other varieties of hot peppers.

    Frozen: Corn, potatoes, green beans, sweet peppers, peas, apples, basil and other herbs

    Dried: Tomatoes, apricots, potatoes, basil, parsely, mint, lima beans, kidney beans.

    I probably forgot some, but those are the things I can think of off the top of my head.
  4. K8tieCat

    K8tieCat Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Northern California
    Oh, BB.... you really don't need a lot of space to grow stuff. I have a book I loved to study when I first started gardening called, " How to grow more vegetables....than you ever thought possible on less than than you can imagine" by John Jeavons. It is a variation of the French Intensive gardening method and really works quite nicely. My garden is not very big, only about 20x40.
  5. Newchickenmom&kids

    Newchickenmom&kids Songster

    Apr 11, 2007
  6. mom'sfolly

    mom'sfolly Crowing

    Feb 15, 2007
    Austin area, Texas
    I used to have a big veggie garden, then I moved to Texas. But I generally froze most of my produce, but also made jams, pickles, tomato sauce. I generally used an old cookbook from the 40s or 50s for most of my recipes. These seem to have less added stuff. The Ball canning jar people put out a canning cookbook that is good. I froze and dried peppers, tomatoes, peas and beans. If you're going to cook with them, freezing peppers and tomatoes works well. I quartered the tomatoes and put them on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet. When they were frozen, I bagged them. It makes them easy to seperate and use as needed. I've also made and frozen pesto from various herbs. I've used a food dryer and low heat in the oven to dry food. We used to pick apples and peaches and I'd dry them. Here in Texas, I have too much shade for veggies, bad soil and high heat; so I don't do veggies anymore. I can't complain about the shade though, it keeps my AC bill down.[​IMG]

  7. poppycat

    poppycat Songster

    Jan 26, 2007
    I've been canning for a while, mostly fruit and jam and some tomatos and pickles. Everything else gets frozen. I have this pressure canner that I used to can with alot but it's old as the hills. The instructions that came with it are for use on a wood stove. The last time I used it was 4 years ago. It's just alot easier to freeze I guess. I'm going to try fermenting some stuff this summer for somthing different. I'll let everyone know how it goes. I also use the Ball Blue Book but I noticed our library has alot of canning and preserving cookbooks so I'm planning to check out a few soon.
  8. buc

    buc Songster

    Apr 20, 2007
    Backyard, the other poster that suggested the book - " Stocking Up II" is right on, it tells you how to store everything. The author is Carol Hupping.

    I would suggest getting your hands on a gardening book called "Square foot Gardening" The author is Mel Bartholomew
  9. xrayman

    xrayman In the Brooder

    Apr 4, 2007
    Central IA
    we put in our first garden this year. peas, green beans, taters, tomatoes. just to name a few. we can and vacuum seal almost everything. over the last few years we got most of our stuff @ farmers markets but we have our own land now so we put in a big one!!
  10. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Great ideas and suggestions everyone! I hadn't thought of checking out some preserving books at the library, but that's a great idea.

    My garden space consists of 4 raised beds, ranging from two that are 4 X 5 and two that are oddly shaped in order to accommodate a walkway to the side yard. Additionally, I've planted a rosemary bush amongst my front garden and am starting some patio tomatoes. I'm also going to clear a spot on the side yard and attempt watermelon and more squash over there. The space is only 5' wide and gets some shade but gets some full sun as well. We'll see how that does. My hubby's grandma grows lots of container gardens and they do very well, so I may see what I can do in that regard as well.

    I really like the idea of keeping some of my own stuff. Even more than the money saving aspect, which I'm sure I'll appreciate (!!), I want to do less contributing to the factory food system and more toward sustainable methods.

    I can always freeze and I can dry as well. I've not yet tried either, but that sounds doable. For those of you doing actual canning, what sort of equipment are you using? Do you have a pressure canner that you recommend? What size of a canner would be recommended?

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