Saturday, July 25, 2009

Preservation Hall

Since we are broke I've been trying to save every scrap of vegetable we have. Here in Appalachia that would mean canning, but I have no understanding of canning. I really want to learn but right now I can't afford the equipment let alone the jars. Which is a shame because apparently Union County has a cannery. Damned if I can find it though. It is in a turn of the century (20th), unmarked building near the high school. Great directions huh. If I find it though, it only costs something like a quarter per jar, you do all the prep work. The only thing I know about canning is that in the basement of my Grandpa's old house there were shelves of jarred pickles. And I never remember anyone eating them.

But freezing I can do. I found a good guide on freezing vegetable from UGA. My mother-in-law gave us her old chest freezer (she bought it to prep for our wedding) and I also am "borrowing" her vacuum freezer bag machine. I've been a mean green freezing machine this week.

Out of my garden I have frozen three 8oz bags of green beans and one 5oz bag of snow peas. That looks like it is going to be it sadly. But Dinah has had pounds of produce bestowed on her at work. So far this week I have packed and frozen about five pounds of yellow squash, four cups of okra and probably four pounds of string beans, all of which was just given to us. There is probably another two pounds of string beans yet for me to process. I prefer the bush beans to string beans but I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth.

Yesterday I bought a dozen ears of corn and then Dinah brought home another dozen that was given to her. What we don't eat, I'll freeze. And since cooking corn is the same as blanching it, any leftovers after dinner I just freeze now.

The downside to either freezing or canning is that you still end up with a cooked vegetable. For example, you can save carrots but you have to cook them first. So there is no way to save a fresh carrot that I grew in the garden for January. But cooked is better than none at all.

I do need to figure out the canning thing if anything just for pickles. But first I have to figure out the pickles; that's not going so well so far.

By the way, Preservation Hall is in New Orleans, at least I hope it still is. It is one of those must stop and visits if you are in the Big Easy for the historical significance of it whether you like jazz or not. I loved seeing it.


Brook said...

I must say that the hardest part of canning is the fear of doing it. Honestly once you get started you'll realize that it is so easy. It can be hot work yes, but there are so many simple delicius recipes especially for pickles and chow chow/relishs(especially good I think for the freebies). I usually do 2-3 quarts of some type of jam/jelly/preserve in half pints every year. Really, a big pot and some tongs are all you need(apart from the jars of course) The results are so worth the effort. Try it-and don't do any experimenting with the processes!

Huff Daddy said...

I understand. I could do pickles in the few jars I have if I just bought new lids. Of course at the rate that I eat pickles, it might not be worth it :) I'm one of the few people who does not eat jelly, so no incentive there. Everything else I can freeze. Though I have always preferred canned green beans to frozen. But that doesn't mean I don't want to learn how to can. I need to find a good pickle recipe for inspiration.