Putting Up Food

We practice seasonal eating, meaning we orient our meal planning around what’s in season at the time. For example, last night for supper we had a stir fry, made from the last of this years Chinese cabbage and the first of this years garlic, squash, peppers and onions. Cherie has discovered some great new recipes lately, using Google to find new ways to combine what we have. Last week she made Swiss chard and zucchini enchiladas that were amazing. She also made a great dish from squash and kale.

With food coming in year-round here, we could eat fresh without ever having to rely on stored food. But of course there are going to be times in the winter when we want tomato sauce, or asparagus soup, or zucchini bread. Et cetera.

So we can, freeze, dehydrate, and pickle. We also cure and store potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic and onions. Even when we’re not eating fresh from the garden, the great majority of what we’re eating is always from this farm.

Of course putting up food in the summer is just one major task to add to already impossibly long list of things to do. It is very difficult to keep up with nature this time of year. Right now it feels like we desperately need to put up squash and wild blackberries, for example. I worry that unless we make the time to do that, they’ll be gone and we won’t have any for the winter.

And that brings me to what I expect is a very common homesteader mistake: putting up too much food. We do it every year. When the gardens are cranking out more than a family can reasonably eat, it’s only natural to start preserving it for later. It’s important, however, to take stock of what not only what you have, but what you need.

I’ve been bringing in green beans lately and Cherie feels the pressure to put some up. But the other day she told me that we still haven’t finished eating the ones she froze two years ago! Likewise blackberries. I worry that the window will close on them, but Cherie points out that we still have blackberries left from last year.

But it just feels wrong not to save what we can’t eat fresh. Oh well, it’s a nice problem to have I reckon.

As a reminder, for any interested I now have a new blog focused on local history. You can find it HERE.




21 comments on “Putting Up Food

  1. avwalters says:

    We haven’t experienced that problem here, yet. But we will. Back in Two Rock, we donated fresh excess produce to the local Food Bank. It was better than digging it under, and we knew it was providing healthy food alternatives to folks in need.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      That’s a great way to get rid of excess. We do that do to. So far this year we’ve given hundreds of pounds (maybe even a thousand by now) of fresh produce to our food bank.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. That was me with zucchini as I just shred it in bunches then feed it. Fortunately my dog ate the leftovers we couldn’t that year, and after that I bought a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles (works great for sweet potatoes as well) . Our issue as urban homesteaders is not canning enough of the staples – we may have a ton of jam coming out of our ears (which were turned into instant gifts/trades with others) but about a month or so ago we ran out of my canned salsa and marinara plus the blueberries I froze last year. Thank goodness we can go pick blueberries next week but the tomatoes, it’d kill me to buy them at the store after so many years not doing it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not only the price, but purchased toms taste like absolute garbage. Nothing – not even any of those from the farmer’s market/ local farm stand (and sorry Bill, you’re a very long trip from here; ) has ever matched the taste of the ones grown here. Must be “Terroire” of our soil plus all the old manure and composted scraps… Can’t get flavour out of unfed soil, hey? ; )
      And just wondering – your timing is so far off ours here – those squash you’re eating right now, they’re still Summer Squash, right?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      It drives me crazy that we run out of onions every year. Meanwhile we have way too much garlic. We grew more onions this year, but probably still won’t have enough. I need to do a better job of planning.

      I think we’re OK this year on canned tomatoes and salsa, but that’s one thing we do use a lot of. Today I see our tomatoes starting to turn pink. In a day or two we’ll be eating fresh tomatoes again! I know that’s still a ways off you for but I’m sure you can appreciate my excitement. πŸ™‚


      • Nice! Yes we have the same problem with onions…. And is here our ducks are sticking their necks over the raised beds to try to nibble on the green parts 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joanna says:

        I have overcome the problem of onions running out before the next lot are ready by planting the sprouting bulbs and just using the onion greens instead. We don’t lose out on the onion flavour that way and the timing is usually spot on as the last of the bulbs are used the greens are doing well.


  3. Frozen berries can be used for jam (see that and a myriad of ways to “use up” stuff from FarmGal’s blogposts… Here are the search results for “jam” – frozen berries were used in the 2nd recipe down; ) https://livingmydreamlifeonthefarm.com/?s=Jam+&submit=Search
    And there’s always Dilly Beans, as my mom called them.


  4. valbjerke says:

    Any frozen veggies from the previous year get doled out to our laying hens…..I find the flavor lacking after a season in the freezer. I don’t have much issue canning/freezing more than we need – rather I used to have an issue canning up stuff simply because we had a glut of something – only to find it never got eaten. One year hubby said he loved canned rhubarb on toast – so of course I promptly canned up as many quarts as I could. I could have fed an army with all that rhubarb – it never dawned on me perhaps hubby loves it because he doesn’t have to eat it every day πŸ˜‚ Pickled beets – same. Now I make more of an effort to can and freeze what we ‘like’ to eat, and rotate last years efforts to the chickens or pigs.


    • Bill says:

      Cherie is always after me not to hold onto frozen food for so long. I realize food given to the chickens isn’t “wasted,” but it still feels somehow wrong to me. πŸ™‚

      Your rhubarb story makes me smile. We have all kinds of pickled and dried things that are the result of the same kind of reasoning. πŸ™‚ I have a half-eaten jar of pickled beets in the fridge now, along with a half-eaten jar of pickled okra (from at least a year ago, maybe two). I like them, but not enough to eat a lot of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, harvest is coming late this year. We had a cold rainy Spring and really put thing behind here. When it starts every things looks to come to harvest at the same time. Green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers are all on course to be ready together. Not a good thing. I keep some for me to eat but give away most of the harvest. Since I’m the only one that really eats garden food, preserving just doesn’t make a lot of sense for one person. It makes all the neighbors around Terra Nova Gardens happy.

    Have a great harvesting day.


    • Bill says:

      I know what you mean Dave. It looks like I goofed on the hoop house tomatoes. My intent was for them to come in a few weeks before the outside crop, giving us earlier tomatoes. Instead they’re all starting to come in at the same time, meaning I’m going to have twice as much as we need!


  6. Joanna says:

    I guess part of the problem is also that in some years somethings do well, whereas others do not. Our squashes are just sitting there at the moment, waiting for some heat. The cauliflowers are doing better in the cooler weather though. I think it is just a matter of rolling with the gluts and hoping that something is there for the following year.


    • Bill says:

      Yep. One of the consequences of this lifestyle is that we have to adjust our menus to what nature allows us to have. This year our English peas were a total fail, so we won’t have any. On the other hand we have our best potato crop in years, so we’ll be eating lots of potatoes this year.

      Last year deer ate all our cauliflower. We still have some from the year before, but I’m looking forward to having it again this year. If the deer allow it.


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