Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Canning Pressure

The funk that seems to have settled over my gardening activities has similarly affected my canning this year. I had been imagining jar upon jar of home grown produce, lining the shelves of our rarely used pantry. Move over old Costco snacks, I would think. Here come the jars.

jars of canned produce and croc of pickles

But this year has been an absolute downer for the garden. Tomato planting was postponed while a second garden terrace was built, so we have only had a handful ripen on the vine this late in September. Last year's garden terrace was planted with beans, broccoli and cabbage, but I soon found it was home to an aggressive ant colony, determined to keep me from weeding at all costs.

And the animals. My beans, kale and broccoli were all chomped off at the stem. This was particularly disheartening, as we terraced the south side of the house specifically to plant veggies there. The backyard was deemed too much of an "animal zone," but I felt the side of the house had shown little evidence of furry friends. Surprise: you plant veggies, and the animals will move. New animal scat appeared daily, deterring me from spending time out in the garden with my newly mobile daughter.

So while I wait for my tomatoes to finish ripening, I have been buying 10 pound baskets at the market, and canning small batches. I have tried fermentation, a new and somewhat frightening experiment for me (is it done? is it safe?) I want to buy the bushels. I feel like I should be able to handle the bushels. But this year, I just can't. The babe rarely allows me ten minutes alone in the kitchen, never mind the time it would take to can a whole bushel of tomatoes. So even though those large ripe baskets of farm fresh produce are beckoning me, I'm holding firm to my resolution to can when I can, and forgive myself if I have to buy a jar or two.