Our Mission

To live a self-sufficient and organic lifestyle for the next half century. With the Grace of God and the power of prayer, we will succeed. Nothing is impossible with His help. It wouldn't be us without laughter and joy at the Cockeyed Homestead.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Harvesting and Preserving Homestead Style

Unless you plant several dozen plants of what you want to preserve, you will rarely have enough to put up for later. For us, we are just starting out (2 year old garden), so we preserve little by little as we go. Most of the harvest is freshly eaten. We are expanding as we go so each year new ground is broken to plant. We are limited by extensive tree coverage on this formerly abandoned homestead. We are slowly clearing as we go. There's just so much of this property that has been neglected for so long.

Clearing an area and keeping it clear is an issue right now. If you bush hog an area and do not have the means to keep the growth down, you've wasted your time, effort and money. Although buying a tractor to do this would be great, with only two acres of land it seems like a waste. It would spend most of it's time in the barn.
 That's a waste of resources. Plus repair bills on a largish tractor is expensive. Especially now with so much of the land filled with trees. So we opted for a tiny tractor that can also be used as a lawn mower. We got it second hand off of Craig's list. It'll haul a trailer behind it too. I imagine, I could even get a small tiller blade set up for the twice yearly turning of the gardens.

But getting back to the garden harvesting and preserving. A couple of weeks ago, I made a video of making no pectin added Triple Berry Jam for Mel. Now each of this berries ripen at different parts of the summer. I just gather them whenever they ripen and put them in the freezer. When I find the time  and have the extra sugar...I'll make jam with them. Not to mention berry pies and cobbler. By putting up little by little like this no huge water bath canner is needed. A simple large pot will do.

Our cucumber harvest is coming along. I've calculated that we need ten half pints of pickle relish  and ten pints of bread and butter pickles each year. I figured this by how many we used last year. That's really not a whole lot of cucumbers if you think about it. Eight medium sized Boston Pickling cucumber will fill five pint jars. We'll also do half a dozen pints of Kosher dill pickles. I make my relish out of zucchini instead of cucumbers. All the rest of the harvest pf zucchini and cucumbers is for fresh eating. All this canning stems from two of each plant.

Now tomatoes are another thing. We go through a ton of tomato products a year.  We planted twenty-five Roma tomato plants, three Cherokee tomato plants and two Beefsteak this year. So far I've put up 27 quarts of tomato puree. We'll need three to four times that amount four a year. I still have to put up my pints of diced tomatoes. For diced tomatoes, I'll put the tomatoes in the freezer overnight or for months. All I do is wash, core, and place them whole in 2 gallons zipper freezer bags. The freezing process loosens the skins when thawed. The skin just slips off. Just run the thawed tomatoes through a couple times with a knife and they are ready for the jars. No standing over a hot pot of water, and then peeling them. For my tomato puree, I'll wash, core and quarter my tomatoes. I'll bring them up to a boil in a large stock pot, and then hit them with my stick blender before jarring them up. From the puree I can make ketchup, sauces, and even soups at a later time when it's cooler. Remember, we don't have air conditioning on this homestead. So any long term cooking and canning projects wait until fall and winter if possible. Luckily, we had a late cool spell that allowed me to get most of the green beans canned this year.

Having a covered and screened porch helps in my canning endeavors.  This is worth its weight in gold for the garden produce that can't wait to be canned later. We have an old Coleman propane camp stove and a couple of electric burners in our make shift kitchen at the back of the house. This is an essential for us.  The house doesn't get heated in the summer with 100 degrees temperatures outside. A large fan keeps the porch from being over heated. I can can or cook to my heart's content. Well, almost.

Today, I got an estimate on the new driveway and the plumber to get my honey-do list partially completed. The new driveway is way cheaper than I allotted for. Yah!! No more getting stuck to my axle in red clay mud! Another YAH! The best part is they can start next week. The plumber still  is about what I figured. The electrician has to put their bid in for the electrical work. Now, to find a handyman to build my ramps and deck, and we'll be set. At least for now. We are pricing new gutters and downspouts for the rain catchment system too.

Things are hopping and finally coming together for us. It's about time.
Y'all have a blessed day!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Agree, Disagree, Indifferent is okay, just let us hear from you. But be warned...evil spirited or threatening comments WILL BE deleted.