I wrote this post & title in harvest season but never posted it as I thought it was too negative. After reflection, it isn’t that bad and even if it was, I should be transparent about life here.
Well I totally and completely underestimated that part of farm living. It almost defeated me but I am still standing!
As I write this there are still plums in the fridge laughing at me, well they’ve been laughing for quite a long while, but I’ll get around to them, I hope.
Actually, when we made the big mistake of picking all the hundreds of peaches at the same time and a huge part of them went mouldy in the unplugged fridge in the basement (not sure how that happened) at first we were upset and afterwards I was quite relieved. We had already canned 20 jars, made jam, frozen bags and bags and given boxes away. Problem with peaches is that you have to peel them like tomatoes. They are so tasty and we were so incredibly lucky to have them but they were small and so more work to process. One thing I learned is that we should have been pruning the flowers/small peaches so that the other peaches would get bigger. Something to note for next year.
Harvesting and freezing and canning is a constant stress on your mind. You pick the veggies/fruit and the canning book says that you need to preserve them immediately. How? Everything is getting ripe at the same time! And, it is still nice enough in late-summer/early autumn to enjoy the last days outside in the sun. Why would I want to spend 5 hours a day in front of a hot stove and getting all sticky with hot jam? And burning my hand repeatedly in the boiling jar water, then getting a huge wif of hot vinegar fumes and finally just being generally so stressed in the situation running from the jars to the veggies to the recipe and back in double-time.
We ended up spending at least an evening a week, usually more, for the past 7 weeks, canning. We ended up with about 88 jars. At the beginning we did it together but now it’s just become work so we alternate. Rob is in charge of jams since I am in charge of bread. I mostly do the pickling. I screwed up that one a little since I have to make bread every few days all year and jams are only in harvest times… However, contrary to canning, bread is getting more fun to make now that it looks and tastes like actual artisanal bread and not loaf after loaf of accidental flat bread.
So what do we do next year when the harvest in the veggie garden is actually good? Not to mention having all the herbs process that we need to make a business with. After we put in the manure in the veggie bed I hope we will have more than this year’s stunted growth. Apparently the Douhkabours all get together and can in huge groups. My sister also told me her friend gets a WWOOFer to take care of the children during the day and she does canning marathons by herself. Well, neither of those sound like much more fun.
Then there is the question, how are we supposed to eat all these pickles?? It’s like, we have enough pickled peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, etc. to have a can a week for the next year. Don’t get me wrong, we also canned tomato sauce, grape juice, tons of jams, plum sauce, etc. but there is a very large quantity of pickled veggies. Are we supposed to change our diet to include more vinegar soaked veggies? Currently we eat pickled veggies at lunch with eggs and bread, any more than that and I think I’d get a hole in my stomach. We gave tons of jars away but we are trying to be self-sufficient here so the objective is to live on what we produce.
The alternative to pickling is freezing of course, or drying, or storing without freezing. Storing without freezing is way too hard. Living in Switzerland we lost way too many veggies to mould when we didn’t store properly. The carrots in sand actually disappeared. Did mice eat them? Did they disintegrate? It was very strange. For veggies, freezing is the only viable alternative and with blanching and laying things on sheets to freeze properly, it’s almost as much work as canning. Drying is going to become life now with all the herbs and luckily I don’t mind that as much. It has to be a sunny day to pick herbs but I’ll need to make a nice processing table.
Anyway, I am happy we had such a good harvest but I’m especially happy canning, freezing and drying season is DONE!! Whoop whoop! (let’s just forget about those plums in the fridge, oh, and the ones still on the tree!)