LocalHarvest Newsletter, October 22, 2016|
Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.
It is time to fall into fall and celebrate the harvest, yet I fell exhausted. I'm not even a farmer, just a very ambitious gardener, but still I am tired. Every year it is a push-pull between my husband and I about how big to make the garden and how much to plant of each crop. Around 40 pounds of garlic seed goes in, 1,000 onion sets that we start ourselves, 100 tomatoes and another 30 pepper plants go in the ground. All the other crops are just window dressing. Can you tell we like salsa? Each spring I say, “let's make the garden smaller and have a little more time for adventure this summer”. My husband, on the other hand, is focused on the inevitable zombie apocalypse. He practices canning like it is an Olympic sport.
So here we are, in the thick of harvest and processing time and I don't want to spend another whole weekend dicing, stirring, cooking down, and canning food. Thus far, we have dried 2 gallons of plums, made 160 jars of various plum concoctions (jams and chutneys), 48 jars of ketchup, 24 jars of tomato paste, and 60 jars of salsa. Still remaining are more types of salsa (roasted green tomato, tomatillo/tomato), fermented hot sauce, pickled beets, and kimchi. We will dice up and freeze copious quantities of winter squash (for some reason I can never get it to store well as intact squash), freeze cubes of pesto, and harvest the rest of our dry corn. Later in the fall, I will break out all the frozen fruit I socked away and make more jams- cherry/peach and black n' blue jam. I like to freeze fruit when it is in season and then process it when the weather is much cooler and I don't mind being inside over a warm hearth.
I did not grow up this way at all, with the art of gardening and preserving food having largely skipped my parents' generation. But for the past 10 years I have been getting more and more skilled at canning to the point where I even sell a few dozen jars at fairs. I love seeing people's delight as they come across a favorite jam, chutney, salsa, or homemade ketchup that they haven't seen or tried in years. I also fancy the wee bit of income the sales afford me in order to cover any costs of buying new jars, lids, or ingredients like sugar each year. If I can cover all those costs, I am a happy homesteader.
Then all winter long and into the summer before our next harvest comes due, we happily munch on pickled beets and garlic scapes, thaw out homemade pesto for pasta, spoon salsa over our eggs, and smother plum jam on the PB & Js that my family makes often for their sack lunches. I know all this work saves us thousands of dollars in grocery bills, makes us more resilient in case of power outages or other emergencies, and fills our bellies with nutrient-dense food that we grew with care. But you know the best thing about preserving our food? Giving it away. All these jars make great gifts or just tokens of appreciation throughout the year. When my daughter has a sleepover at a friend's house, I send a jar with her as a thank you to the parents for taking my kid on and giving me a break. I give jars to new employees, board members, new friends, and neighbors when they lend me a tool or watch our pets while we are out of town. So maybe it does make sense to process 300-400 jars a year so we can give away half of that. Here's to the happy exhaustion of the harvest and the abundance we are blessed with.
From the LH Store
I could go on a date with dates. They are one of my new found loves. High in potassium, fiber, calcium, and other minerals, they make an excellent snack, ingredient in smoothies, even wrapped in bacon. I cut them up for my toddler who devours them by the fistful (a tiny one). They also grow in the most arid parts of the world, providing not only a nutrient dense food source for those regions but also jobs and a way to make a living farming. The Medjool variety has just been harvested and is ready for sale. Check out the selection in the LocalHarvest store.
CSAware and CSA Manager
LocalHarvest helps family farms thrive. One of the ways we do this is by offering an affordable, user-friendly CSA management program using cloud-based technology. And unlike some other programs out there, we won't ever be creating our own CSA or faux CSA to compete against our subscribers. Check out CSAware and its lighter version CSA Manager to see how it might help your farm.