canning

Where Does Your Food Come From?

Where do you get your food?

Chances are pretty good you hit up the local supermarket at least once or twice a week and load up your grocery cart (Trolley, if you're British.) with what you need.

Yup, I do it too. It's easy. But is it best?

In the great scope of history, this type of shopping experience is just a blip on the screen of time.

The first "supermarket" type experience was in 1916 when Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Before this remarkable, NEW, way of shopping, customers would bring a list to a clerk at the store who would gather their items, sometimes having to weigh them out into separate packaging from bulk supplies.

You also made trips to many different retailers. The local butcher for meat, the bakery for bread and you had perishable items like milk delivered to your doorstep.

Something else that most people had and utilized in their home was a LARDER: A room or area in their basement or cellar where they kept their stores of food. Food they had preserved themselves.

If a storm was coming, or some other problem arose, you didn't need to rush down to the store and hope that the shelves weren't bare. You already had what you needed, for the most part, at home.

Contrast that to today: Modern day statistics say that an average town has approximately three day's supply of food. That doesn't sound comfortable does it?

Even if you shop weekly at farmer's markets, the chances are the quantities you purchase are minimal.

Farmer Joel Salatin predicts, in his book, Folks, This Ain't Normal, that "if people went to farmer's markets to buy serious food, they'd wipe out the whole place in about twenty minutes."

You see food used to be stored up. You bought food in bulk when it was in season and preserved it in many different ways.

I was blessed to grow up in a home that did this. We caught boat loads of perch and crappie and, as a family, would filet and freeze the bounty. We shucked, blanched and froze freezers full of corn. We canned beans and fruit. We made applesauce, fruit leather and jams.

One of my most treasured memories is standing in the kitchen of my Michigan home, as an adult, canning cherries with my mom. She looked over to me and said, "I never thought I'd be standing here doing this with you. It's such a blessing."

She knew the importance of perserving food and was so happy that I had come to realize the same thing. (Let's just say as a teen I was less than domestic.)

Have you ever given food preservation a go? Would you like to try?

Now is the perfect time to test the waters. Gardens and fields are at the height of production giving one last push of abundance before fall sets in.

Tomatoes are a great option to "put by" or can.

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Preservation Method 1: Water Bath Canning Tomatoes

Supplies Needed:

  • 20 lbs. of tomatoes
  • Lemon Juice
  • Water bath canner (huge pot)
  • Canning jars, lids and rings
  • Jar Grabber (to lift jars out of boiling water)
  • Lid lifter (magnet to pull lids from boiling water)
  • Funnel (Keeps mess down when filling jars)
  • Plastic or wooden spoon (for removing trapped air in jars)

Process:

  • Sanitize jars, lids and rings- jars can be run through the dishwasher, I boil my rings and lids in a small pot of water for a few minutes on the stove top.
  • Fill your canner 1/2 full of water, place a lid on and start heating. Also have a smaller pot of boiling water started for filling jars.
  • Rinse and dry all tomatoes.
  • Fill sanitized jars with whole or cut tomatoes. I do not remove skins or seeds because both contain many vital nutrients. Leave about 1/4 inch of room at the top of the jar.
  • Add lemon juice to each jar- 2 Tbsp./quart, 1 Tbsp./pint
  • Finish filling jars to 1/2 inch of the top with boiling water.
  • Use the handle of a plastic or wooden spoon to free air bubbles by sliding it up and down around the inside edge of the jar.
  • Make sure the lips of the jars are clean of any tomato splatter. Use a rag, wash cloth or wet paper towel to wipe the lips and then place lids and rings on jars, making sure to tighten snugly but not too tight.
  • Place jars in the boiling water in the bath canner, making sure that there is at least an inch of water covering the tops of the jars. Keep the water boiling and process the jars of tomatoes for 40 minutes (pints) and 45 minutes (quarts). If you are at a higher altitude you will need to adjust the times and boil longer. (Google will be your friend to find out your altitude and how much time to add.)
  • Lift jars out of the water and let them cool overnight. Check to make sure each is sealed correctly by pressing the lid of the jar in the center. If it pops up and down it isn't sealed. Put the jar in the refrigerator and use right away.
  • Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Plan to use them within a year for soups, sauces and casseroles.

Preservation Method 2: Oven Drying Tomatoes

Supplies:

  • 2 lbs paste tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Chef's knife
  • Large bowl
  • Wire cooling racks
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cookie Sheet
  • 2 pint size canning jars, lids, rings

Process:

  • Rinse and dry tomatoes
  • Slice and core tomatoes- slice in half length-wise, cut a shallow "V" on each side of core to remove it.
  • Remove seeds and pulp- since we are drying the fruit it is necessary to remove as much moisture as possible before hand.
  • Season tomatoes with salt, tossing until coated thoroughly.
  • Remove all oven racks but one and move it to the lowest level in the oven.
  • Heat oven to 200 degrees Farenheit.
  • Make a dozen or so, golf ball, sized aluminum foil balls and flatten slightly.
  • Lay out tomatoes on the wire cooling racks, don't let them touch, and stack racks on the cookie sheet using the foil balls as spacers in the corners between racks.
  • Put the cookie sheet in the oven and dry tomatoes until the edges shrivel but the fruit is still plump. (4 to 6 hours)
  • Cool tomatoes to room temp. and transfer them to pint jars. Cover with olive oil (leaving 1/2 inch of headspace) and refrigerate for up to two months or freeze for up to six months.
  • Use them on top of eggs, pasta and toast!
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Bonus How To: Saving Heirloom Tomato Seed

Supplies:

  • Heirloom or open pollinated tomatoes (Hybrid tomatoes will not work.)
  • Plastic cups
  • Labels (scrap paper and tape will work)
  • Strainer
  • Plate
  • Glass jar for each type of seed
  • Q-tip for each jar

Process:

  • Wash tomatoes, dry, cut in half across the middle horizontally (not stem to base).
  • Gently squeeze the tomato seeds and juice into a platic cup, labeled with tomato variety. Fill cups about half full and move them somewhere out of direct sunlght.
  • Allow cups to sit 3 to 5 days until covered with white mold. (You may need to add a little water to keep the seeds floating.)
  • Scrape off mold with a spoon but don't remove seeds.
  • Fill cup with water and stir. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom.
  • Pour off water and discard floating seeds. Repeat until seeds are thoroughly clean.
  • Pour remaining seeds into a strainer and rinse again.
  • Place seeds on a labeled plate and dry for 1 to 3 days, keeping the out of direct sun. Make sure they dry and don't stick together- stir at least twice a day.
  • Store seeds in labeled glass jars with a q-tip taped to the lid (to absorb extra moisture) until planting time.

Whaddya think?

Are you willing to try any of these preservation methods?

Are you willing to start a home larder?

It is so much fun to go grocery shopping in the comfort of your own home and proudly satisfying to see abundance stocked, not at the store, but in your own dwelling place where you can access it 24/7.

Don't let your food supply rest in someone else's warehouse. Become your own store!

Got questions? Leave me a comment below. Want to come to a canning class? I'd love to organize one. Let me know if you are interested. You can comment below or email me at cyndi@foxandglovefarmstead.com.

Until next time,

Bloom and grow

Cyndi