Nov 17, 2014

Preservation Post

Well we're in the middle of November and we've had two light snowfalls so far!  This is pretty much unheard of in our area. Getting snow twice in one winter is a big deal. Granted, both occasions were no more than a light dusting, but still.  The garden is now put to rest and we're just waiting to see how my fall seeds do.

When I chatted with Christina on the Garden Brew podcast she brought up preservation. It is something I've been experimenting with the last two years and I thought it would be a great topic for a blog post.

Last year I kicked off my preservation pursuit by doing some pickling. What else was I going to do with all those cucumbers? I purchased Saving the Season by Kevin West and started doing some research. I put up two varieties of pickles and two types of pickled okra. I felt good about myself.

Unfortunately they didn't really pan out. The dill pickles were soft and weird. The bread and butter were okay, but we never ate all our cans. One variety of okra turned out soft and weird as well and the other I just didn't get around to eating. Oops. I also did one jar of diced tomatoes from Saving the Season. This worked out well and I used the jar in a tomato sauce last winter. This one jar is responsible for my planting more tomatoes this summer. We all know how that turned out.

I set out again this summer to preserve some of our garden abundance. I tried the dill pickle recipe from Saving the Season again (haven't opened a jar yet), and put up two batches of bread and butter pickles from John Currence's Pickles, Pigs, and Whiskey. I had extra brine so I made refrigerator pickles with the extra liquid and we both loved the flavor. We have high hopes for these.  With my CSA and garden I had a ton of peppers at one time. So I made a sweet pepper relish which turned out fantastic. This was my huge win for the year. I put up 6 half pints and had some left over that I kept in the fridge. I'll give a few away as presents at Christmas time.... reluctantly.

But I didn't stop at canning this year! I also took some time to blanch and freeze swiss chard, kale, green beans and okra. I also put one bag of stewed tomatoes in the freezer. I haven't tried any of these yet, but I feel confident I didn't screw these up.

If you are in need of some inspiration, this story from the Bitter Southerner made me want to put something up, possibly jam.

Currently I'm taking a self study program through the National Center for Home Preservation. I've only completed the first section, but I'm excited to get into the more meaty subjects in the coming weeks.

Looking forward I'd love to continue to do more pickles and relishes. I'd also like to do some fruit preserves. I had high hopes of putting up more tomatoes this year, but my crop didn't pan out this year. Next year though...

There is so much you can do with home preservation besides basic pickles. Have you experimented with home preservation? What are your favorite recipes?

National Center for Home Preservation - my go to website for canning and freezing
Saving the Season by Kevin West
Pick a Pickle  by Hugh Acheson - fun flip book I purchased earlier this year, but have not used yet
Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry by Cathy Barrow  - this is on my wish list this year (hint, hint Bryan!)

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