As we place the final batch of canning on our pantry shelves, I have to admit that my heart is filled with pride over what is before me. Row after row of colourful jars have been filled with this seasons bounty of organic heirloom produce. Onions, garlic and herbs hang from rafters and there are numerous buckets and crocks bubbling away, fermenting happily.
As I take a moment to absorb the work that has gone into building this pantry, thoughts wander to my Granny Lee who would have appreciated this. She lived in an era where producing your own food was normal. Rather than seeing her family go hungry she built a garden and raised chickens. This garden kept her family and neighbors well fed. Nearly seventy years later, we are doing the same thing. There is a growing movement of people concerned about food security, revitalizing the old ways. They are taking matters into their own hands just like my Gran did. It’s hard work. It’s a massive lifestyle change. If you are one of these people then I hope you take the time to admire and reflect on your achievements. Not only are you making a healthy, sustainable choice for yourself, you’re the “thin edge of the wedge” of a positive social movement.
If you are just staring out with growing and preserving your own food, I am excited for you. There is so much information and support available on-line these days. Take it day by day and you will reach your goals quickly. You might want to begin with making jams and jellies and pickles which are easier and can be done without any major speciality equipment.
Here are some of the things that we grew this year grouped by how we have preserve or stored it for the winter. We have linked to some of the recipes as well. There is plenty of other food in the pantry but this is a list of what we have produced using our own ingredients.
Pickled Pantry Items
Herbs / Apothecary
For next year we plan on growing less varieties, more volume and will be more particular about the varieties we select. We want heavy producers. This year we had nine types of tomatoes and four of them were cherry types. It was a real pain (although delicious) to process those. I also grew frivolous things like peanuts and gourds that took up valuable space in the garden. I got a total of SIX peanuts out of that arrangement. No more of that! We will also be taking our first stab at growing a cash crop of heirloom garlic.
The mad season of preserving and storing food for the winter has wrapped up and just in time. The wood stove has slowly started its winter duties and it’s cold enough for flannel and toques. The root veggies are still in the ground for a few more weeks but otherwise the growing season has ended. The stocked pantry is comforting with the onset of what is expected to be a particularly harsh winter.