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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!

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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.