Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Another readers question answered

I got an email from a reader asking me how do I determine how much to can, freeze or dehydrate.

Well, basically, as much as I can!  I wish I could freeze more, but my freezers are full at the moment (we lost one freezer earlier this year-motor went out) and I have not replaced it yet.  I don't want everything in the freezers, because it is too easy to loose food if the power goes out for an extended amount of time, or if the motor goes out.  With that being said, I tend to dehydrate and can more than I freeze.

Food that is dehydrated, takes up less shelf space than food that is canned.

Years ago, I stayed at an Amish Bed & Breakfast in Indiana, run by Mrs Yoder.  (yes, half the Amish of Indiana are named Yoder, but this one was on Scott Road out of Shipshewanna, Indiana--that narrows it down to maybe 40?)  I asked her how she knew how much to can and grow, and I pretty much have gone with her answer.  If you eat corn once a week, then you need to can at least 52 pints or quarts (depending on your family size) to have once serving of corn a week.  If you have a large family, then you may need to allow for 2 quarts of corn per meal, so can at least 104 jars....If you often serve company, then you need to add to that.  Her general rule was 60 quarts of each vegetable and fruit that her family ate once a week as the bare minimum.  Double that if they eat  it twice a week.  Also, don't forget you have both lunch and an evening meal to account for.

I still have my notes from my visit, and her wonderful huge basement pantry included, corn, carrots, peas, green beans, lima beans, pinto beans, tomatoes, greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, okra, beats, squash, pumpkin pie filling, cherries, peaches, pears, strawberries, applesauce, apple rings, numerous jellies and pickles, relishes, catsup, pickled green tomatoes, salsa, horseradish, pickled eggs, various canned meats, and then she had buckets of nuts and flours, oats, rice, vinegars and oils.  She also grew year around, in a south window of her basement herbs, carrots and greens.  Her basement was made out of thick stone walls, and stayed nice and cool year around.

Sadly, I lost my notes where she had figured how many plants or how many feet of plants to grow per person in your family, plus guest.  She had it down to a science.  She bought very little in the way of fruits or vegetables, although she did do some bartering and trading with other ladies to even out what she needed. She grew apples, but not peaches, so she traded with a lady who grew peaches and not apples.

She also had the rule that no food went to waste.  So, if it was  a good year for something, she canned all she could, because the next year might not be as good, so she would have some to carry over.

This year, I am canning or dehydrating corn, carrots, peppers, onions, tomatoes, mint, apple products, peas, beans, and pickles.  If I come a good deal on bulk produce, I will add to it.

Hardly a dent compared to what she had.   So, this fall, when I am all done, I will make a trip to Aldi and purchase by the case what I need to fill in.  I usually try to get 2 cases a week, and then rotate that through.

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