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, October 7, 2018

Still Canning and End of the Year Harvest Tally

The green bean harvest is finally done. The beans still left on half a dozen plants will be the seed stock for next year's garden. I've left the beans on the plant to die naturally. Then I'll pick the beans and shell them. I canned 100 new pint jars of green beans this year. Coupled with what's leftover from last year's harvest, we have enough jars to eat green beans twice a week until next year's harvest. We've been eating fresh green beans for the last two months too. It was a great year for green beans for us. All from the equivalent of two pack of seeds. I planted seeds from my 2017 seed saving efforts. So we are self sufficient in green beans. Yeah! Only about $0.30 a jar of homegrown, chemical free goodness.

 I've canning about three cases (36 pint jars) of large diced tomatoes, 2 cases of stewed tomatoes, and 2 cases of tomato salsa so far. I've also 12-gallon bags of tomatoes in the freezer for making sauces (tomato sauce for BBQ and ketchup too) later on. We are almost at the end of our tomato harvest, but I'm still picking them. All of this is from 14 Roma, 4 Cherokee Purple, and 2 beefsteak tomato plants. Plus we've been able to have sliced, fresh tomatoes at every meal for the past month. I'll let some of each go to seed production for the rest of the season until frost.We are now self sufficient in tomatoes too. Yeah! For diced tomatoes $0.30, stewed tomatoes $0.50, for the salsa $0.70 a jar. It's been a good year for our tomatoes.

We grew a heirloom bi-colored corn in the orchard this year. I didn't expect much, but I harvested 34 salvageable  ears of plump corn. It was better than I expected. I've been shucking corn on the porch today and will be canning it up into pints jars. While a pint jar will hold two cups of corn and liquid, I normally will put only a cup of corn in each jar. That's about the most the two of us will eat in a meal.

I'll also be making 1/2 pint jars of my pickled corn relish about a case worth because Mel doesn't like it. Her loss is my gain. I have a few peppers leftover from putting up my tomato salsa that will go great in them.

I'll have to let you know how many jars I get out of the 34 ears. It's going to be about half of what we need for a year, I think. So almost self sufficient in corn. A Semi-Yeah toward self sufficiency! I'll buy a case of corn this month to round out our needs, but that's better than buying two or three cases. A case of corn is about $20 right now (about 30 odd ears). With the addition of the case of corn about $0.75 a jar. This price would drop significantly without the purchase of corn.

The reason for bi-colored corn is Mel loves Silver Queen, a white corn. While I love yellow corn, what can I say, I hail from the plains of NE. I'm just a transplanted southerner. This compromise gives us both what we like to eat.

By gerry-rigging the corn cutter onto a bucket, I could easily take the kernels off the cob one-handed. The other side has slits in to to hold the sliding prongs. To substitute the hand pressure, I used rubber bands looped around the end of the cutter so all I had to do is push the cob through to take off the kernels after the corn was blanched. The hardest part was finding a bucket my 9 1/2" cutter could stretch across. This 2-gallon bucket worked well. The next time I'll purchase a corn cutter, I'll get a longer one like the one pictured. It's easier doing a lot of corn in a 5-gallon bucket. The corn cutter usually last about three seasons and become dull or breaks. Ya gotta love the planned obsolescent of gizmos these days. I usually buy two of any gizmo I buy because of it. They always seem to break in the middle of a job.

How do I figure our yearly intake? I calculate a meat and two vegetables for one meal a day. This is our big meal of the day. If I want to serve the vegetable once a week, then it's 52 jars. Twice a week is 104 jars needed. For just the two of us that means pint and half pint jars where a family of four to six would need quart jars. Leftover jarred vegetables go into a container and into the freezer. When the container is full, it's time to make a large batch of soup or Mulligan stew. I'll hold out enough for two meals and can the balance. I do this for all the meals I cook and before long you have a pantry full of heat and eat meals.

The idea of canning 52 jars of anything may seem pretty daunting, let alone 52 jars of all the vegetables you eat. But I small batch can. One canner load at a time (8 jars). It all adds up. Before my strokes, I thought it was nothing to can several  cases (4-6 cases of qt jars) of jarred produce in one day in my big pressure canner, 22 pints or 8 qts at a time. Now, all I can manage between prepping and canning is about 16 pint jars or one large canner load a day. A day's harvest equals a day or two days of canning and/or dehydrating. I don't have the energy to harvest and preserve that much a day. My foot sure won't let me especially this year with all the problems I've been having. So small batch canning it is. Perfect for harvest from a small garden.

It was far easier to do more before my stroke, but it's still doable even living post stroke. It takes more steps going to and from the breakfast nook table where I let my jars cool down and seal carrying one jar at a time. My kitchen counter space isn't large enough to let them rest in there.The same goes from cleaning the jars before they go into the food storage building. But I place all the cleaned jars back into the case the jars came in to carry case by case of filled jars into the store building. Little by little, it gets done.

I also harvested enough Muscadines for 5 gallons of wine and a dozen pints of Catawba grape jelly. Next year's harvest should be double.

I still have my cabbages, napa, ginger, carrots, and turmeric to harvest. The leeks, onions and garlic will overwinter. I can almost taste the Bavarian sauerkraut and kim chi. I've harvested, dried, and ground my gochugaru peppers already.

I love going "shopping" in my storage building after the fresh eating season is done. I'll carry my market bag and pick the jars I need for the week. The same goes for my freezer. I'll "shop" and meal plan at the same time because I know what's available on the shelves. I stocked it, after all. Remember, I upcycled all my plastic bags into plarn and knitted or Mel crocheted the market bags. When I actually do go to the grocery store, I also love looking at the items and saying, "I don't need that, and that, and that." I'd bypass the vegetable aisle totally if the spices weren't on the same aisle. If it weren't for our dairy, meat, cola addiction, and paper needs I could by pass the grocery store all together for the most part. I love the  wide long handle on this pattern. I can wear it across my body and it doesn't cut into my hand.

Isn't that grand. I used to not mind shopping too much. But now, it's a chore. Stores are too large to navigate now, especially with a bum foot.  Everything is so expensive in comparison.  I spend more time waiting on a parking spot or motorized cart than I do shopping. It seems that everything I need to purchase is in the back of the store or some distant corner. So I'd rather not shop in the stores and instead, do my version of shopping. Yes, being a one-handed canner ain't easy, but it sure beats going to the regular grocery store by price and health.

Y'all have a blessed day!

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