People today do not have time to preserve the harvest nor do they need to. At least that is what most people think. However, if we are going to eat local, or if we have a good source of healthy nutrient dense food this summer, we need a way to store the food so that we have it to eat this winter. Of any season of the year, the winter is when we need good nutrient dense food the most. Winter time is when we tend to get sick the most. Many advocate eating fresh fruits and veggies to keep healthy. But in the middle of winter those fresh fruits and veggies come from the other side of the earth where it is warm. They are probably picked green so that they will ripen during the long trip. It is probably a variety that is bred for its ability to ship well rather than for its nutrition quality. What is it sprayed with to keep it fresh, even if it is organic? Michael Pollen in The Omnivore’s Dilemma mentions that organic salad greens are sealed in plastic bags with inert gases that keep them fresh for 14 days. What are those inert gases? That organic "freerange" chicken in the grocery store in February never saw a blade of grass. It was raised in a big dusty ammonia filled chicken house just like a Purdue or Tyson chicken except it received organic feed.
There is something satisfying about having a supply of food stored away for the winter. One of the easiest ways of storing food is in a freezer. For our family of eight we have four large freezers that we use just for our family. In addition, Cathy likes to can pickles, tomato sauce, ketchup, salsa, apple pie filling, apple sauce, jelly, etc. Several of our boys are going to design and build a root cellar as a school project where we can store the potatoes, squash, pumpkins, carrots etc.
If any of you have a suggestion of how to make preserving the harvest easier, we would enjoy hearing about it, especially about doing a large quantity at a time. Doing larger batches at a time is most efficient. Many canned items will keep for two years, so canning a large quantity one year frees up time the next year to can something different. One idea we have to share with you is using a deep bowl kitchen sink propped up on concrete blocks to do the canning, rather than canning on the stove. You could also use a large galvanized tub. Put a wire rack in the bottom to keep the jars off the bottom. It keeps the heat out of the kitchen, and is much faster than doing 7 jars at a time in a conventional canner. We were able to can two batches of tomato sauce in about an hour. The sink we used holds 20 quart jars at a time. We used a large weed burning type propane torch under the sink as the heat source. A 90 degree pipe elbow was put on the torch head to direct the flame upwards and a vise grip pliers clamped on to the torch keeps the torch head from falling over. Attached is a picture of the canning setup. The large galvanized tub in the picture would hold about 19 quart jars. Whatever container you use for canning, it needs to be deep enough for the water to fully cover the jars.