We had such a bountiful growing season this year! Our raised vegetable beds produced a nonstop array of healthy and delicious produce, and our trees have remained laden with sumptuous fruits. So for the first time in many years I decided to preserve a portion of the crop.
The plum harvest was absolutely phenomenal; more this year than ever before. Of course they became ripe during the hottest days of summer. I canned and dehydrated during our heat wave, which wasn't the most pleasant. But when it was all nicely 'put up' as my Texas in laws say, I decided it was well worth the toil.
I made a Southern favorite, Dilly Beans; basically green beans, bell peppers, red pepper flakes and garlic with generous amount of dill. Everyone has loved them and I wish now I had made more.
You know, even if you don't grow your own vegetables, canning can be both educational and rewarding. The key is to buy produce that is as farm fresh as possible. Maybe you are one of many who buys wisely and in bulk and cans on a grand scale. When I was a young at-home mom, I preserved huge quantities. We had dill pickles, spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes, and the likes that would have supplied the neighborhood! I'm not sure why I stopped canning, but I'm guessing my interest in such pursuits is cyclical. Anyway, I hope I feel as motivated next year.
The Dilly Beans recipe can be found here. I thought you might want to check out the link.
If you've ever grown zucchini you've undoubtedly experienced the huge yield. Usually we end up begging friends to take it, and then throwing some of it in the waste pile. After all, how much zucchini can you creatively feed your family?
This year I tried making zucchini relish. I think it is out of this world and it is my new favorite add-on to almost every dinner. I would describe it as gourmet relish. I have served it over cream cheese, with goat cheese, on meat and with crackers; even with rice. I'm kicking myself now for only setting out one plant. I thought I was making a sensible decision. But now I would happily can more relish if I had more zucchini.
Additionally, I blanched and froze green beans and kale, and dehydrated plums and pears. I have many more pears yet to ripen, and I plan to freeze some to use in baking and dry the rest. Then I will turn my attention to the apple trees~ more freezing, more dehydrating, and there will still be plenty of fruit to donate to the food bank. Yes, preserving the harvest is a lot of work!
Moving on to something more fun and less labor intensive, I'm excited to show off the tags and embellishments I created for the jars~
They're pretty cute with just the fabric and jute, right? But look how adorable they are with a few frills~
I'm plainly bragging, but I love the way they turned out. I think they will look highly refined in our larder and will be perfect as small gifts.
My close friend has amazing printing, cuter than any computer font. I have named it the Dorothy font. As much as I'd like to, I can't take steal all the credit. She gets the applause for the pretty handwritten tags. The least I can do is give her a jar of my coveted zucchini relish, right? Hmmm. Still trying to decide.
I don't know if I would call the process of preserving entertaining, but the feeling of resourcefulness and good stewardship is amazing. And I am relieved to have found several charitable organizations this year that will accept tree fruit. Sadly, there are many food banks who feel that the liability connected to homegrown fruit is too great, and they have rejected my efforts to provide. I think this is outrageous, honestly, when there are so many among us in great need.
For the first time in a number of years, I value the thought of winter; a dormant season for God's creation. I have been watching the squirrels busily stowing the hazelnuts from our trees. They too are preserving the harvest. I read that squirrels really do remember where they've hidden their treasures, which is amazing, considering the amount of time I waste looking for things I've safely put away. But soon the squirrels and other small creatures will pause for a season of rest. And the ground (and I) will rest too. I know that all the time I invested this year in the preserving process has given me a new appreciation for the blessings of each season. And that in itself is has been a gift. Happy Fall!
Join the inspiration at these fine blogs~