Friday, July 24, 2009

It's a little overwhelming...

...and this is only a portion of what we are dealing with tomorrow. Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce for three families.

Our veggie CSA let us scrounge their rows for tomatoes this morning--they have so many that it's "all you can carry" organic tomatoes on pickup day. What they charged us to pick about 6 huge boxes was so embarrassingly little that I won't even say.

I've heard canning is big right now. It's good to know that the stars have aligned—as they do periodically—such that my routines have coincided with what's cool.

I've canned since I was a kid. This year, I'm teaching my friends to do it too. There's something about the steam, the sweat, the chatter, the kids and families running through the house, the finished jars cooling in neat lines. It's lovely.

But I do have to say that canning is not a good way to save money if you have to buy your produce full price or if you just hop on what's trendy for one year. We get our jars at WinCo (a discount grocery store) for about $7.50 a dozen, with lids and rings. Cheap, but that's still an investment up front, especially compared to freezer bags.

We get our pickling vegetables from our own gardens. We get peaches and tomatoes from friends and in bulk. We pick blackberries for free down the road.

Giving away those precious jars of jam for Christmas makes it even more cost-effective.

But it's work. If you factor in your labor costs, forget it.

For us, it's a lifestyle. We'd rather stand over a hot stove or pick a hundred pounds of tomatoes before work on a Friday morning than work overtime in an office. We like turning excess into a stocked pantry. We like convincing our friends that the intimate connection with our farmers and the soil our food grows in will enrich their lives.

(Bonus: Our farmers are cute. Agricultural eye candy.)

* * *
Our peaches were no gold-medal winners. We had jars of syrup with peaches floating at the top, exposed the air. Not so pretty.

Still delicious, so the agony of defeat is not so bitter.

But we're trying to figure out how to pack those tomatoes in more tightly. Wish us luck.


Jessica said...

That's a lot of tomatoes. I would go crazy if it was pick as many as you want organic tomatoes day. My tomatoes will be ripe in about a week, I think...then I'll have a canning day as well.

Kristina said...

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for this post. Last week I found myself enslaved to my kitchen, spending every spare minute outside of work with a paring knife in one hand and a peach in the other, processing the 60 pounds of peaches I'd bought for $25, from the farmstand a few towns over. After the stress and bustle of that project, it was nice to read some vindicating words about the passtime of canning. Thank you.