Them That's Doin': Canning Food, New Trees and Preparing for Winter

Roberta Hammer reports on new fruit and nut trees, preparing for winter canning green beans, tomatoes and peaches, and shares a no-knead bread recipe from homesteader Alice Okorn.

| November/December 1970

  • Home canned tomatoes
     Preparations canning fruits and vegetables for the upcoming winter, and a bread recipe using midwestern, soft-type wheat.

  • Home canned tomatoes

A Missouri cold spell has reminded us that winter is close, and most of that stuff we had to get done "before winter" is not done! The water pump is not enclosed in insulation, the goat shed and the chicken room have not had their drafts checked, the new garden spot for next spring has not been tilled, and the 5 acre pasture did not get seeded to alfalfa. We DID get the outhouse moved (something we had been putting off, for obvious reasons) to a new location.

The outhouse-moving was a fantastic scene. We had no heavy chain, so we used swing chains . . . and they broke every few feet. Besides that, the old tractor has a bad clutch and Keith had to sit with the pedal pushed in for five or ten minutes every time before he could put it in gear. Try to straighten up an outhouse under those conditions, over a hole you've dug in the ground . . . then write and tell us how you did it.

We had a long drought in the Midwest this summer and, although our garden was better than most around here, our visions of vegetable bounty didn't materialize. We had plenty to feed us and some to give away, but not a lot to put up for winter, and none to sell. I think only experience can dictate how much to plant and how much to can and freeze. I've seen several charts on the subject . . . all different. Anyway, most families eat different amounts of different things, so who can tell?

I was pretty proud of my 40 jars of tomatoes and 20 of tomato juice, but I'm afraid it's just a drop in the bucket compared to my friend (the organic farmer's wife) who did 196 jars of tomatoes, juice and ketchup. Well, she was raised on a farm and has been canning her own for four years, so I'm trying not to feel too badly about it. I also did a WHOPPING 14 pints of peaches. And, are you ready? 15 pints of green beans! I plan to can some pears off our one and only productive fruit tree. And next year . . .

We're still gardening and have turnips, beets, lettuce, spinach, radishes, mustard and winter onions to eat with the green beans and corn we're still harvesting. We've really had to compete with critters for that sweet corn! Grasshoppers ate off the silks, causing some ears not to develop kernels; corn worms ate the ends of the ears; and racoons chomped away on the fattest and best of the remainder. No corn to freeze. I want to get started on a cold frame next week. I hope to have fresh lettuce and spinach for a long time.

We're planning a HUGE garden next year. We want to do much better at putting away food, and we want enough to sell. We've found the patients of an allergy doctor to be a good market for organic produce. Most of them have to have pure food and are used to paying air freight prices for produce from California. They are desperate for nutritious, non-poisoned food and will pay a reasonable price for it.

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