One of the cool things about being a blogger is that everything is a blog post. Whatever you do, wherever you go, pretty much anything can be photographed and turned into a post.
The problem is, sometimes the process of taking the pictures and writing about it takes more time than the actual doing–and sometimes there is just too much to do. The last couple of months have been that way-I’ve been working myself half to death harvesting from the garden and “Putting Up” food, but I have barely mentioned it here on the blog.
I’ve meant to. I’ve wanted to. There have been many times I’m elbow deep in a project and thought “Dang, this would make a great post!”. But there is only so much of me, and I’ve only got 2 hands (which makes it hard to, oh, let’s say peel apples and take pictures of the process at the same time. And yes, I know that there is such a thing as a tripod, but setting up the shot takes 3x as long as just doing the task & skipping the picture).
So there is a lot of stuff I’ve done this summer which were really frugal, sustainable and homestead-y that I really wanted to share with you all but haven’t.
Ahh, you say, but you manage to get up all those Walmart posts and giveaways! Well, yes, I did. Those are sponsored posts and the money I earn from those are what enable me to have the luxury and joy of working from home so that I CAN do all the other stuff. And just be forwarned–there will be more sponsored posts leading up to the Holidays. I try to tweak them all as much as possible to highlight the frugal aspects of anything, or to teach you a skill you might enjoy, give away something that is of decent value to you all or even just share an interesting story with it. I do actually refuse a lot of them that I don’t feel fit–like credit card offers, luxury products, etc.
But back to the topic at hand–just how much DID I put away?
I borrowed an Excalibur dehydrator from a lovely church friend and then, with the free apples I picked from a couple of other friends trees, I dehydrated 4 bags full of apple rings and made about 20 sheets of applesauce leather (which the kids have eaten almost all of!). I had a vine of winter squash die in the garden-the squash were ripe, but the rinds weren’t hard enough to cure for long term storage so I diced, steam blanched and then dehydrated a couple of those (that’s the big jar on the right-yeah, 2 squash only filled it about 1/3 of the way up) then I baked two, mashed the squash and dried it in a flat sheet. I also did a small bag of summer squash as an experiment-then, in those other jars, I dehydrated a bunch of frozen vegetables I got on sale-corn, peas, pepper mix, and mixed vegetables.
Why did I dehydrate frozen vegetables? Well mostly because I wanted to experiment a bit this fall with using dehydrated food. I wanted to see how I would use it so I could decided if it really is worth my while to spring for that Excalibur Dehydrator that I really, really want. They run about $260 for the big 9 tray version. . . so I have to be really sure before I spend the money. I’ll write more on why I think a dehydrator might be a worthwhile expense in the future.
Then of course I canned. This is my main shelf of canned items. At the top are mostly jams, jellies and canned rhubarb. Then you get into salsa and chili sauce, pickles, apple butter, canned beans, green tomato salsa, tomato sauce & carrots.
Then I’ve got this other small shelf (ignore the junk on the floor please!) That’s a ton of applesauce and canned apple slices on the tops, then tomatoes, green tomatoes, spaghetti sauce etc.
Next we move to the freezer. Most of the items in the freezer were frozen and then sealed with my foodsaver. (note: I’ve been offered the chance to review a newer foodsaver-mine is 12 years old. You’ll see that sometime in the next month or so-I’m anxiously awaiting it!) Things that are wet like the corn & broth you see on the right get frozen in a rigid container and then the block ‘o food is sealed. That’s sqush, beans, corn etc you are looking at.
Down further I’ve got chard, lambs quarter, dandelion, squash, kohlrabi, apples and other unidentified items. (Hey, they are labeled with permanent marker on the package, I just can’t tell in the photo)
On the door up top there I’ve got blocks ‘o tomatoes & zucchini, down further I’ve got more squash.
I’m still not done though. I dug up all these Jerusalem Artichokes a couple of days ago. I have to get them packed in a box in damp sand today for storage in the basement.
I also needed to make some more room in the freezer, so I pulled out a bunch of the fruit I have had stored to make jam “later”. I guess today is “later. That’s 2 gallon bags of strawberries, a pint of blackberries, a pint of blueberries, and a big bag of mixed wild blueberries, currants and a few black raspberries.
Out in the garden I’ve still got about 9 chard plants, a couple of New Zealand spinach that never did much, around 8 butternut squash, carrots, 4 cabbages, 3 brussel sprouts and a summer squash vine that just decided to put out 3 new little squash (who knows, they could make it). I’ve also fall planted some turnips, tat soi, beets, mizuna and kale. The bunnies decided they needed the beet greens and kale more than I did, but the Mizuna is nice and bushy-we’ve been eating it fresh in stirfries, and the turnips are big enough to thin–the thinned greens will make me a nice pot of turnip greens here soon.
That’s what I’ve been up to, so what do you think?