Learning what’s actually needed

Life is one big experiment, especially if you are a gardener or dabble in any self-sufficentity skills. (is that a word?….). You never really know HOW many tomato plants to plant or how many jars of jam a family of 2 really needs. In my ongoing quest to figure out the answers to those critical questions, I take notes & I make lists.

Last year, at the end of canning season, I took inventory. I had:

  • 7 jars of apple butter
  • 4 jars of apple sauce
  • 12 jars of pear vanilla jam
  • 14 jars of blackberry jam
  • 12 jars of raspberry jam
  • 3 jars of plum cardamom butter
  • 4 jars of meyer lemon rose marmalade
  • 12 jars of pear ginger jam
  • 5 jars of squash pickles
  • 12 jars of tomato sauce
  • 28 jars of crushed tomatoes
  • 14 jars of tomato juice
  • 6 jars of green tomato relish
  • 7 jars of green tomato chutney
  • 7 jars of tamatillo salsa
  • 7 jars of tomato salsa

What I have left from last year:

  • 2 jars of apple sauce
  • 1 jars of pear vanilla jam
  • 0 jars of blackberry jam
  • 0 jars of raspberry jam
  • 2 jars of plum cardamom butter
  • 3 jars of meyer lemon rose marmalade
  • 0 jars of pear ginger jam
  • 4 jars of squash pickles
  • 0 jars of tomato sauce
  • 11 jars of crushed tomatoes
  • 6 jars of tomato juice
  • 3 jars of green tomato relish
  • 3 jars of green tomato chutney
  • 0 jars of tamatillo salsa
  • 0 jars of tomato salsa

Granted, I gave about half the jars of jam away for holiday gifts, which is why I made so many, but my inventory has been really helpful. It has shown me that we eat much more of sweet jams than spicy fruit butters. I ran out of sauce a long time ago, so I should have put up more tomato sauce than crushed tomatoes. Matt loves salsa, and I should have made a TON more. And while last year I was on a mission not to waste ANY thing, making juice from the tomato guts isn’t really worth the effort of dealing with my food mill. I also probably could have relaxed a bit on using every green tomato before the frost came. The relish was good, as are the squash pickles, but we don’t really eat they types of foods they are good with.

I’ll make sure to keep my lessons learned in mind while I’m planting, foraging, accepting free fruit and canning.

Because of the wedding, and my mom’s bad tomato year, I didn’t have the ability to can any whole tomatoes. I made 6 jars of freezer sauce from the mixed tomato harvest from the yard, and I just started canning more sauce.

Instead of doing a bunch of small batches, I had stockpiled the San Marzanos in the freezer, with the intention of making one giant batch. The problem was, I didn’t realize the plant would produce close to 30 pounds, and I didn’t think about the fact I don’t have a pot large enough to process that much at one time. So I’m slowly going through the bags, and turning them into sauce. So far I’ve got 11 jars, and I’m not even halfway through the stash, so I’m pretty sure I’ll meet our sauce needs.

What about you? Did you put away anything you didn’t use or should have saved more of?

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8 thoughts on “Learning what’s actually needed

    1. There isn’t a lot going on in the garden right now, everything is only an inch or so tall! Canning is pretty easy, you just have to go for it!

  1. Hi!
    I didn’t can anthing the last few years, but I’ve got a stockpile started for this year. I just wish I had received more tomatoes so I could have canned my version of Rotel. I go thru Rotel like crazy!

      1. Rotel is a Brand Name for a store bought can of diced tomatoes with green chilis and spices. It ranges from mild spicy to hot. I use it a lot in cheese dip and casseroles.

  2. Now there’s a genius idea! I didn’t have much time to put up this year, so the tomatoes ended up in the freezer (to make sauce later) and the canned peaches from the spring was a smaller undertaking than I would have liked. Now I’m al inspired to see how we do going through our stores! I do know that we can never make enough blackberry applesauce…

    P.S. Would the word you were looking for be “sufficiency” ?

  3. With our family of six and neighbors willing to take fresh pickings, I never have enough leftovers to can! There are always great deals at the local farm (when there’s a glut), so I really need to learn the process and have some stored over the winter.

    Yes, we have quite the opposite problem…I’m learning to just plant a few more seeds than the previous season. My garden continues to expand.

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