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Making Room for Fresh Bounty

June 11th, 2012

I don’t can much in the summer. There are only two of us and I’d much rather eat things fresh from the garden than from a jar. In the winter we focus on trying to grow/eat things that don’t need canned/frozen like cabbage, potatoes, bitter winter hardy greens, and winter squash. That being said, I will always spend some time in the summer putting up jars of fresh tomatoes, some pickled items and a few jars of jams and chutneys. There will also always be dried spices and beans.

Since I don’t can that much, I don’t end up having much left at the end of the winter to eat up before lining the pantry shelves with freshly canned items. This year it looks like I have about 10 quarts of tomato soup, 10 pints of crushed tomatoes, and a few random flavors of jams/jellies/chutneys. I also have a few pounds of dried beans that need used up.

As I was cleaning out the pantry this weekend and taking stock of what I needed to use up, I realized my list of items looked like a chili. Thanks to Mr Chiot’s hunting this past fall, we also have a freezer stocked with venison, though we’ve eaten about half of that already. Venison chili it is then.

I started soaking my beans last night (I always sprout beans before cooking with them to make them more digestible) and tomorrow I’ll start a big pot of chili on the stove.

Looks like I’ll also have enough tomatoes to make some marinara; time to seed some basil! I’ll be happy to see all these jars and containers emptied, scrubbed, and put back on the jar shelf in the basement. There’s nothing better than preserving some of your own and enjoying it.

Do you carry over canned food items from year to year or do you try to eat everything up within the year? What’s your favorite, pantry cleaning recipe?

Never thought to add it, but Pat asked in the comments about my shelves. They are Seville Classics 18-Inch by 48-Inch by 72-Inch Shelving System with Wheels, Chrome and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I like that they are one wheels so I can roll them out for cleaning. They’re super strong so I don’t have to worry about shelves bowing or jars breaking. I have many sets of these in my basement and recommend them highly!

19 Comments to “Making Room for Fresh Bounty”
  1. kristin @ going country on June 11, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Everything tomato-based is always eaten within the year, but there are always a few things that have stellar years and then we end up with a lot of something. A couple of years ago, that was the jams and jellies, with the result that I didn’t have to make any last year, but now it’s mostly gone. Last year, it was pickled jalapenos and pears. I have a ton of each left, so I didn’t even plant any jalapenos. The pears are usually an every few years thing, so this year probably won’t be so good and it’s nice to have the extra for the coming winter.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on June 11, 2012 at 7:12 am

      That’s a good way to deal with pears. In our experience, the pear trees produce best every couple years. We enjoy a glut for one year then not much for the next few. I did the same thing with jams/jellies last year. This year looks like I’ll be making a few batches of jelly for the pantry.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Allison on June 11, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I try to use up before the next year, and usually it isn’t a problem between hubby & I and now the little one and then all the jars I give as gifts! It seems like I never have enough!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  3. Beth K on June 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

    We used to have some carryover with just the two of us. I often shared with my parents – especially corn because they’ve had raccoon trouble the last few years and didn’t get much of their own corn. Last summer I didn’t get as much preserving done with our little one underfoot and we ran out of most things more quickly than normal. I think all I have left on my shelves is some salsa and a couple jars of peaches. I’m hoping this year to have more potatoes and onions to store, get more burgandy/green beans canned (our little one LOVES green beans), and I will probably have more sweet corn than I know what to do with because I went a little crazy planting it this year. I think I will cut back on the amount of salsa I make and make more hot pepper relish this year because the relish was a huge hit with my husband’s family and we seem to have slowed down on our salsa consumption.

    Reply to Beth K's comment

  4. Texan on June 11, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I do put up quite a bit, I don’t use the freezer much. If I am not going to eat fresh veggies I prefer the taste from a jar or dehydrated over frozen. Dehydrating is great as you can use the live food setting and keep all the enzymes in your food :O). There are only two of us as well, but tomatoes we use a lot of so jar up quite a few of those. I also enjoy pickles so I like to jar pickles as well. I make our own ketchup and vidalia onion salad dressing (so good) as well so that gets jarred up. We like Jalapeno jelly so that gets put up as well. I like controlling all the ingredients in our food so doing our own condiments is great. Organic is expensive to buy but organic homemade is much less and taste so great :O).

    Reply to Texan's comment

  5. Maybelline on June 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

    One year is it. No more. I can salsa and jelly and freeze as much as possible.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  6. daisy on June 11, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Wow, what a treasure trove of jars! I don’t can yet, but I do use leftovers for making soup. Enjoy your bounty!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  7. Amy on June 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Your idea of venison stew sounds fab. Eithe beans actually physically send up a sprout after two days’ soaking? I’ve never heard of that, but I also rarely cook with dried beans. I aspire to, though. Some of the varieties you can plant from seed sound too interesting to resist!

    I don’t can much. My kitchen stove – a 1970s Jen-Air cooktop, is positioned 1″ from a wall on the left, which is the side with the burners (he other side is griddle/grill). Not only does my pressure canner just barely fit, but I’m slap left-handed, making it extra difficult. My hubby is hoarding our last 2009 pint of pickled beets, and we planted an entire 4’x8′ raised bed to Detroit Dark Red beets this year, so I at least will suck it up enough to can some more pickled beets.

    Reply to Amy's comment

    • Susy on June 11, 2012 at 11:43 am

      You know, growing up my mom couldn’t can on here electric stove so she canned on a Coleman camp stove on a picnic table in the back yard under a big crabapple tree. Not only did she enjoy working outside, it didn’t heat up the house in the summer (we didn’t have AC).

      The beans do send up a small sprout. Usually I start to cook them as soon as I spot germination. The same goes for sprouting grains.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Lorna on June 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Wow – your stash of jars makes me quiet envious – they look fabulous all lined up and waiting to be filled – loving you blog by the way.

    Reply to Lorna's comment

    • Susy on June 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      I do have quite a nice stash thanks to many family members coming before me that canned. Most of these jars are from one of my grandmothers or from my mom. Sadly most of them sit empty since I don’t can much. I do use the wide mouth pint for freezing though – they’re perfect for that!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Pat L. on June 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I generally don’t have leftovers jars. What nice shelving for your jars. I like that your rack has wheels. Where would I look for one? When the jars are full do the shelves bow? I’m just trying to get more organized.

    Reply to Pat L.'s comment

  10. Ken Toney on June 11, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    Last year I canned 60 quarts of your tomato soup, 52 quarts of crushed tomatoes and 35 quarts of tomato sauce. The soup and sauce is gone and I have 3 quarts of crushed tomatoes left. So I have planted many more tomatoes in hopes of making it all year with your tomato soup. It’s been a couple of months since we had it and it is missed.

    Reply to Ken Toney's comment

  11. Julie on June 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I love this post! We usually eat up everything as we grow it, since we only have a small urban garden. We, of course, always have a plethora of pickles come autumn but it’s not really something that sustains us. I did manage to get a few jars of sauce made last year, and I’m hoping a more productive garden + a new CSA membership means we will have lots more in the cabinets this winter. You have lots of fantastic jars! Do you ever freeze? Thinking of making larger batches of pesto this year for freezing…

    Reply to Julie's comment

    • Susy on June 12, 2012 at 8:16 am

      I do freeze peas, berries and other soft fruits. We have a big stand up freezer which is also filled with venison (Mr Chiots is a hunter) and we occasionally buy half a hog. I also freeze a lot of chicken and beef stock.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Mary S. on June 12, 2012 at 10:28 am

    I’m being more careful about using up what I can within a year. (No pickles this year — we don’t eat them enough.) And, now that it’s just me and the husband at home, I make much less jam and freeze more berries whole.

    BTW, I put my seed-starting shelves on wheels this year and it was a revelation — I just rolled them in and out of the house to the deck for hardening off. Much easier.

    Reply to Mary S.'s comment

  13. Allison on June 12, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Hey! I noticed you do some canning in Weck jars. I am an incredibly novice canner, but love the look of Weck jars. Do you notice any kind of difference in the failure rates when you use Weck jars vs. traditional mason jars?

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on June 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Actually I have never had a Weck jar that hasn’t sealed. I love them and love that the lids are glass and that the seals are rubber. I reuse the rubber seals a few times and have always had good luck with them. I have them in all shapes and sizes and continue adding more to my supply to hopefully someday only be using these so I’m not using metal lids with plastic lining.

      Reply to Susy's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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