August is here, and things are happening out in the garden. Tomatoes are finally turning red (although the blight seems to be taking some of them already, so we’ll see how much we get out of them). I’m really determined to store everything we can out of this garden- it’d be great if we could satisfy most of our vegetable needs for the year out of our very own back yard! Of course, I won’t beat myself up if we don’t get to it all- this has been a busy summer for us. But it won’t stop me from trying. So, I’m trying to set reasonable goals, and I’ll likely do a little something every day if I can.
Squash. So much squash. If you don’t catch it for a day or two, they become monstrous! I was determined not to waste any, though. What was young and tender I made into pickles. What wasn’t, I scooped out the seeds, shredded, and froze in quart bags. And there’s more… Times like these I am very grateful for my food processor with grater attachment. That would have been quite a job shredding it all by hand. The shredded stuff I’ll throw into pancakes and muffins and soups, etc., throughout the year. It’ll add a little nutritional boost to things like that, and I can see giving Asa some of it when he’s ready for some solid food.
I’m excited about the pickles. I looked at several different recipes, and I ended up just mixing a few and making a brine out of a mix of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, mustard seeds, turmeric, garlic, honey, celery seed, salt, pepper, and a little dill. You heat up the brine, add the squash with some sliced onion, then put into sterile pint jars and process. The brine was delicious, so I’m sure these will be too- I’ve got some pickling in the fridge right now for eating soon. Jeff also threw together a batch of chunky salsa. So we’ve got 5 pints of zucchini pickles, 10 pints and 2 quarts of the salsa.
So we froze the shredded squash (I think that was 4 or 5 quarts worth), and froze pepper slices (7 quart bags).
My girls. Yesterday we noticed that there was another small batch of beans to be picked. Vera helped happily, until she started to get eaten alive by mosquitoes…
These were headed for pickling as well! We love dilly beans, so that’s just what we did with them.
They are super easy to make, too. You just add a clove of garlic, a sprinkling of mustard seeds, and some dill to each jar. Pack them with the beans length-wise, then cover with a hot brine of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water, and salt (1/4 cup for every 5 cups of liquid). Oh, you also add a smidge of cayenne to each jar, but I forgot this time!
Today we’re thinking we’ll make a batch of peach salsa, and I’m also going to do some serious planning- thinking about each vegetable out there and how to best use/store it. I have some friends who have this all down to a science. They know exactly how many quarts of this and pints of that they need for the year. We have no idea yet, so this is all pretty experimental. And it’ll change as our family grows, too. Next year I’ll have a better answer to "How many dilly beans do we need for the year?" and other such questions. Fun!
Also, a note on canning: it’s really easy to do. It takes a little organization to run smoothly, but it’s not the chore that people make it out to be at all. I’ve actually found it to be pretty relaxing. Everything going from a little chaotic to neatly tucked into shiny jars… the sound of the lids popping at the end of the night, telling me they are tightly sealed and ready to store. It’s fun. Try it!
I wanted to invite people to participate in WFP! If you do decide to participate, I’ll happily link to your post here if you want- we could all learn from and be inspired by each other!