Thursday, October 25, 2012

Preserving the Harvest

-posted by Jayne

There is a catchy little song (written by a friend of ours) that goes something like this;

"We'd eat what we can, and what we couldn't eat we'd can, and what we can we eat all winter long..." 
For me, canning is a compulsive act.  I watched my mother can spaghetti sauce, chili soup, green beans, peaches, and pears every summer while I was growing up.  Canning is just "what we do", so even when there is no energy left in the body, and no time left in the day, I still somehow find a way to can what I can.  
This week, I canned tomato juice.
Canning in October is pretty wonderful because the weather outside is cool, meaning the steaming kettles and canner on the stove don't bring our house above the 100 degree mark (we don't have AC).  
I get a lot of questions about my strainer, so I thought I would post some pictures of the process.  Hot, just-boiled tomatoes from the orange bowl go in the top of the strainer.  Maizy turns the crank, and the skin and rind come out the side, while the juice and pulp land in the pan below.  It's great that the kids can help, and although it does drip a little it still makes the job quick and easy.  

Next up:  Pears.  I use the exact same strainer to make "pearsauce."  Really, I don't understand why more people don't make pearsauce.  We are blessed with a beautiful old pear tree in our yard, and some years they are simply AMAZING.  And this is one of those years!   Unfortunately the tree is over 40 feet tall, and I can't reach most of the beauties.  

To make pearsauce, I simply boil the cut and quartered pears on the stovetop until they are soft, and pass them through the strainer.  Seeds, stems, and peels come out the side, while the pearsauce falls through into the pan.

Bridger really loves helping me gather pears.  And I love that my little 11 month old is learning that food comes from the earth~ not the store.  You can simply crawl on the ground and find something amazing to eat!!

A few weeks ago we picked apples at a friend's orchard.  Look at how thick they were hanging from the tree!  I am still making applesauce and other goodies from these yellow delicious apples.

 Yes, indeed, that is a truck load of apples!

Each Fall we break out the cider press and have a little 'pressing party'.  I freeze the cider in small batches and then pull one small batch out of the freezer every week, thaw it, and enjoy warm cider all winter long.  Here you see my sister-in-laws Adrienne and Becky, and my niece and nephew Owen and Olivia (among the other children) helping to throw the apples in the hopper.  

Here is a sampling of some of this year's canning:
L-R: Pizza sauce, tomato juice, peaches, and wild black raspberry jam

 Pumpkin and squash are also a regular staple around here this time of year.  I never buy pumpkin at the store... it seems pointless when cooking up pumpkin and squash is so simple.  Two years ago I posted about how to cook pumpkin, since many of my friends had never done that before.  I keep it in the fridge, and what I can't use I simply freeze for later.  This week, we've made Pumpkin Smoothies, Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Bars, and hopefully some Pumpkin Granola later today.  You can tell it is Fall, because I am in "cooking mode" and actually have time to do this sort of thing!

Ohio is blessed with an abundant variety of local produce!  And indeed, I realize it would save me time if I simply bought my tomato juice, applesauce, cider, and pumpkin at the store, but the whole process of food preservation is a part of the cycle of the seasons for me.  It's time to stock up, get ready for winter, and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather with our family.

We will be at the North Market and The Worthington Market for our final outdoor Saturday markets of the season.  It has been so warm here in Ohio that it doesn't seem possible that the summer market season is nearing completion.  Don't worry though, we will be at the Worthington Winter Market every Saturday November - December, and every other Saturday January through February.
Hope to see you there!


  1. Have you ever tried making pear butter? I just throw pearsauce into a crock pot with a touch of brown sugar and cinnamon. Let it cook down until its very thick then process in hot water bath. It's delicious!

  2. I am soooo GLAD I finally found some local bee pollen; I've been searching since January after returning to Ohio!! Thank you, thank you!! I'm a runner, a raw foodist & yogini so my lifestyle is blended with the things you do.

    I took a serving of your bee pollen today and it was the most different flavor I've ever had... rich, thick, pungent.... is there a reason for that??? A taste I haven't had with all the years of taking pollen. I'm fasting today and the pollen will aid in that fast... again thank you for being right close to home.

    Thanks again for taking the lifestyle of bee keeping and organic farming. I live not far (north side of Chillicothe) & would gladly support your endeavors!

    Thank you... Namaste,
    Carrie B

    1. If you have further info you'd like to share, please email me at :)