Monday, October 28, 2013

I Need a Medal...

So, I did some canning the other day.

A LOT of canning I should say.

It was a little bit crazy. Or a lot crazy.

For some strange reason a bunch of people happened to come over and SEE all the crazy.

People never come over, so that was weird. Now all sorts of people know what a nut I am!

Here's evidence that I'm totally insane:

That right there is 190 quarts of applesauce. There were 2 other quarts that got eaten at dinner the night before. (Boy, the missionaries can really put away applesauce!)

I canned all of that by myself in one day. That explains the title of my post because I think I need a medal or something after that experience!


Here's the whole story if you're interested:

I spent a week in Utah visiting my family recently. I of course wanted to spend time with my family and some of the Professor's sibling who live out there. But, this trip was strategically timed so that I could purchase fruit to take home and can.

I live in a food desert. Seriously! There's not much of anything out here in the Mojave desert! I did try to travel a couple hours north once to pick apples but they were so ridiculously expensive, full of bugs and yucky.

Anyway, all my growing up years in Utah we would get fruit to can from a local fruit stand where we know the owners. They are such wonderful people. My mom places a huge order with them every year and she cans like crazy along with my grandma, siblings and other assorted friends and relatives. It's so much fun!

I got to spend a day canning "fruit cocktail" (it was just diced peaches and pears mixed) with my mom and grandma and any other assorted family members who were around.
Yummy!

Sure, sure, fresh fruit is best and all that. BUT, there's the practicality of having food stored up for an emergency, and there's something to be said for buying local fruit in season and canning it instead of buying fruit that was shipped half way around the world to your grocery store.

Besides that, we canned a huge amount of stuff for next to nothing! These dear friends at the fruit stand just kept passing off one box of fruit after another to my mom. "Oh, we can't sell these, they're too ripe." or "These are too small, they won't sell well, you just take them."

Anyway, the end result of all this was lots of canned food that my mom put up for me to take back home with me. It's my Christmas present!!! YAY!  I've got peaches and pears and the fruit cocktail I helped do. Also, pureed peach, pear, and plum sauce for baby food or smoothies. I even managed to put up a good supply of salsa while I was there. It's SO good.

But back to the applesauce. I won't even tell you what a good deal I got on the apples from these friends, but it was a steal. I got what amounts to about 15 half bushel boxes of apples. Ha ha! The Professor went home earlier than I did to get back to work, so he took a car from my family. We loaded that completely up with boxes of apples as well as some food storage items I stocked up on while in Utah. (And I DID call the border patrol people to find out if I could take the apples into CA.)

A few boxes wouldn't fit, but I wanted those for dried apples, so we just did those up while I was in Utah. This is pretty funny:
Can you spot all FOUR food dehydrators in the picture? (Mom's, grandma's, sister's and one belonging to my brother's mother-in-law.) They are all full of apple slices for me to take home. We filled all of those twice. Seriously, dried apples make the best snack for the kids! I'll definitely use them all eventually.

My mom drove me and the kids (and tons more food) back to CA and then took her car back home after visiting here. Well, when I finally got back home from my trip I filled up my previously almost empty closet with all that lovely canned goodness:
From top to bottom: Peaches, peach puree, pear puree, chicken, black beans, fruit cocktail, salsa, pinto beans, black beans, navy beans, pears, grape juice, grape jam, plum puree, peach puree.

After putting all that away I sat and laughed myself silly. I called out to my mom, "What am I thinking! I don't have any room for the applesauce!!"  And then as I was giving my mom jars to take back with her (to trade out for the ones she sent my way full of food) I realized I didn't even have enough jars for all my applesauce! Duh. I even panicked and wondered if I had enough canning lids. (Whew. I had a whole case of 'em.)

Well, to FINALLY get to the point about canning all that applesauce...

I waited a week until I had a Friday when my husband didn't have work. He was in charge of the kids all day. I set up all my canning stations the night before so everything was totally ready to go the next day. I did end up sending The Professor on a hunt for an extra camp stove I could borrow so I'd have more burners as I can't use my kitchen stove at all. (Microwave was installed much too close to the stove top.)

I got busy canning first thing in the morning and honestly didn't stop for more than 5 min. at a time all day long! And of course I had to feed the missionaries dinner that day too. Ha ha! I guided the Professor through fixing some dinner and we served up a huge bowl of hot applesauce which was completely devoured.

I was so sore and tired and sick at the end of the day! (I of course had a cold to deal with on top of everything else.) I didn't sleep well that night because I was so sore from carrying huge boxes of apples, pots full of jars of applesauce, and vats of cooked apples. But, the end result was worth it. Ahhhh....

I tell you, it's so good to do it all in one day because then you only have to do the dishes once!

Now, why so much applesauce you ask?

Well, for one, I got a steal of a deal on those apples. Two, I made enough to last us a good 2 years, so I don't have to try to make this same trip to Utah next year. Three, applesauce is the most popular canned item at my house! The kids constantly request it for lunch.

Well, I'm so glad that's over and done with!
And I did have to borrow 4 dozen quarts from a friend. True friends let you borrow all their empty canning jars, right? I even found a place to put them all. I had a spare shelf in the kitchen cupboard for a few, and the rest went into boxes and under our bed. And you better believe that when we bought a bed frame I actually brought a measuring tape and made sure it would be high enough off the floor that I could store jars of food under there. (That must be a sign of a complete canning nut!)

Well, that's the story of my canning adventure this year. It felt so good to can something! It also felt good to spend a day doing something I'm good at. Sometimes I become so troubled by how difficult motherhood, homeschooling and being a Primary president are. It's hard to feel like I'm doing well at any of those things that my life revolves around. But, for one day I got to indulge in a hobby I'm quite good at and feed my love of efficiency. And oh the smell of hot applesauce! Mmmm....

Did you can anything this year? I'd love to hear about it. And don't compare what you did to my insanity.

*Can I get a shout out in the comments from anyone who preserves food on the scale we do? I'd be really interested to know if there are any other wacky food preserves out there like us!*



9 comments:

  1. Well done Holly! You do deserve a medal, and I have long admired your work ethic and how efficient you are at canning. Well done. I think freshly canned food is so beautiful. It was fun to see you freshly stocked food shelf. Well done.

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  2. Woooooo hoooooo!!!!!!!!!!! Way to go, friend!!! I am so impressed! I love having beautiful, homemade canned goods on my shelves. It's such an awesome feeling!

    I can in large amounts, but only in the years I get to can. :-( I also live in a sort of "food desert," and so no peaches, pears, or apples for me this year! (We can ORDER fruit from Utah through a couple sources, but it's so expensive, it's hard for me to be able to justify it.)

    When we have lived in Idaho, I canned a LOT, just for us to be able to EAT! (Yeah, we really struggled financially whenever we have lived in the place we grew up, but we do receive lots of yummy produce from family and friends to can!)

    Yesterday, I had my big shopping day and as I grabbed a four pack of applesauce off the shelf at Sam's Club, I sighed a bit, knowing that my daughter was canning yummy, homemade applesauce with my mom last week. The real stuff is the BEST! And shopping for it doesn't feel nearly as satisfying as looking at all the gorgeous rows of cans after a hard-day's work. (And the applesauce isn't nearly as yummy, either!)

    If I had a medal, sister, you'd get it!!! For sure!!! :-D

    Hugs,
    Rachel

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  3. You definitely deserve a medal! That is an insane amount of applesauce!

    I'm a wannabe canner. I've canned a couple of times, but never on this scale. I need to be better at seeking out cheap sources of fruits and veggies, because I usually only can if something pretty much falls into my lap at a great price.

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  4. I didn't can a darn thing this year. We had a late frost that killed off the blossoms on our apple and pear trees. There is no where around that sells good fruit and we didn't travel to Utah or Idaho. Soooo.....you made up for my lack. :) And did a fabulous job! Don't those jars look so beautiful all lined up?

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  5. YOU ARE AWESOME!! (I can't send a medal, so I yelled it loud enough for you to hear all the way from Canada here!)

    We can like crazy around here too so I know how much hard work that is. Good job Holly, you are awesome!

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  6. My mom and "I" (the intention was that I'd help with the canning but it turned into just watching the kids) canned a ton of peaches last year. I did help pick a lot of peaches though! Most of the peaches we got that year were free and it was just too hard to go through a giant orchard of free peaches and ever actually stop. I'm not sure how many qts it turned out to be, but it was a ton! And took 3 days or so to do them all.

    When I saw your first picture on the post my thought was "I bet Holly loved that". haha! Glad you were able to get a hold of a good deal on apples and do one of the things you love most!

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  7. Oh, what a wonderful sight! All those jars of deliciousness--so yummy and so healthy. Well done! you definitely do deserve a medal.

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  8. I love to put food into jars too. I just finished, well a couple weeks ago, 54 pints of turkey broth - form boiling the turkey carcuse after Thanksgiving. Wow it makes good gravy.

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  9. I just found your blog and I'm loving it. So many fantastic gems! I loved your "silver lining" post, it really spoke to me. And, this post kinda made me laugh. Mostly because I live in the northeast near a lot of farms and I LOVE summer and fall with all the amazing produce. Problem is: I don't can, I never have, but I'd love to. Another problem I have never had any place to put my canned goods. We lived in NYC until just recently and even though we just moved to the burbs we are still in a relatively small space (by US standards) for the size of our family. (But I'm a total pro at storing stuff in every nook and cranny.) I'd also love to homeschool my kids, but that's not an option for us right now. So, I guess the kinda funny part is our complaints/silver linings (yours and mine) are a bit swapped.

    And, my husband sounds very similar to yours.

    Anyway, love your blog!

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