The Weekly Watch

Preservation

At my age it is a complement to be called well preserved (I guess). But we talked health and diet a couple of weeks ago. Let's talk food preservation this week. It is time to think about saving garden produce. Even if you don't have a garden, you can make use of your local farmers' market. This time of year (in the Northern hemisphere) produce is less expensive and more nutritious, and if you grow your own, you know that vegetable production can be excessive at harvest time....from feast to famine. So save during the feast and have something to avoid the famine.

cans.jpg

What's the best way to store produce? Well it depends on what you've got growing or in your fresh farmers market. You have to use different storage techniques for different crops.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqvWCkq8WjU (4 min)

Harvest and preservation tips
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qp6wGuxXCU (9 min)

Some crops can be stored through the winter in a root cellar or cool area of your home. We often use cardboard boxes and wrap things like onions separately in newspaper.

root cellar.jpg

https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/root-cellaring/storage-crops-z...

https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/garden-planning/food-s...

Here's a clip from winter and what stored veggies are like...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7d2GUHB2ggc (13 min)

Root cellars are pretty easy to construct. We use our cool basement, wrapping and boxing produce as a substitute root cellar.

Root cellar alternatives
https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2015/10/root-cellar-alternatives.html
http://homestead-and-survival.com/18-root-cellar-alternatives/

If you can't dry store your veggies, I like to freeze them. It is my go to method (if there's enough room in the freezer)....

freezing.jpg

Freezing
Freezing vegetables is a fast and easy form of food preservation, and most crops, such as asparagus, broccoli, green beans, peppers, summer squash, dark leafy greens and all types of juicy berries, will actually be preserved best if frozen. Part of the beauty of freezing vegetables is that you can easily do it either in small batches — thus making good use of odds and ends from your garden — or in one big batch of your homegrown harvest or peak-season, discounted crops from the farmers market.
https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/freezing/freezing-vegetables-z...

Here's a menu of crops and freezing techniques
https://nchfp.uga.edu/tips/summer/home_food_freezing.html

Some things don't freeze well
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/dont_freeze_foods.html

We typically cook things we freeze rather than blanching. Saute squash, onions, and pepper and then freeze them as ready to eat packs. The same with tomato sauces. Cook them down with onion, garlic, basil, and whatever else you like and freeze the sauce ready to thaw and use in winter. I have concerns about the phthalates that can be released by plastics when they are frozen https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-g...

There are alternatives to plastic bags and boxes...
https://www.treehugger.com/green-food/how-freeze-food-without-plastic.html
https://www.attainable-sustainable.net/plastic-free-freezer-storage/
Glass is a good alternative.
I freeze seasonal fruit: berries, peach slices and grapes on a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer. Once the fruit has frozen, I transfer it to glass jars.
https://zerowastechef.com/2016/01/06/how-to-freeze-food-without-using-pl...
There are stainless steel options http://lifewithoutplastic.com/stainless-steel-airtight-watertight-food-s...
Freezer paper is also an option. Reuse those old paper juice or milk cartons and tape shut the top.

Canning
We set up an outdoor kitchen on the porch using our camp stove so we don't heat up our house while canning. It is a hot laborious job, but sure is nice to eat home canned produce...

canning equipment.jpg

Both water bath and pressure canners can be used...
https://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/canning/water-bath-pressure-ca...
http://www.homesteaddreamer.com/2016/10/10/water-bath-vs-pressure-canning/

Here's a couple of general guides for times and techniques for different food items...
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_home.html
http://www.simplebites.net/canning-101-the-basics/

The advantage of canning is it doesn't require constant energy. Once heated, the jars of produce will last a year and beyond. Another low energy technique is:
Fermenting and pickling

fermenting.jpg

https://www.runningtothekitchen.com/how-to-ferment-vegetables/
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/sauerkraut.html

(24 min)

Pickles...
https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can6b_pickle.html
There are fermented pickles...

(8 min)

...or quick vinegar based pickling (5 min)

We like pickled okra...
https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pickled-Okra-108764

And pickling is a great way to use all that extra squash that won't fit in your freezer.
https://iowagirleats.com/2017/08/15/refrigerator-zucchini-pickles/

Don't forget Drying Produce...another great low energy storage method.

drying.jpg

https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/dry.html

Easy to make driers...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aofrh-bjCvQ (2 min)

I like this downdraft design (7 min)

...moist air sinks so creating a down draft improves the drying.

What about excess fruit? Consider making wines and ciders

wine rigs.jpg

Easy wine recipe from fruit... (11.5 min)

hard cider...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oheANJ9xyK0 (7.5 min)

Distilling wine to brandy...
First you have to make a still. Here's one approach...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5PuGJ0ULhI (10 min)

Then you run the wine through the still to distill the brandy...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=842abQRxa8M (8 min)

Your growing season determines both what you can store and how much you should store. The more you design your garden to produce throughout the year, the less food you need to preserve. However seasonal items like (soon to be harvested) blueberries here, must be stored in order to enjoy throughout the year. Other crops, we simply enjoy when they are in season, and wait with anticipation to the next harvest. Lettuce is a good example. It is too hot here to grow lettuce during the summer (although the young folks on the mountain manage to keep some going under misters and shade cloth all season). We give lettuce a break during the summer and plant a fall crop which often over winters (under row covers).

Make do or do without...

make do.jpg

I like the way this couple in Atlanta learned to make use of their suburban backyard. You could too. https://www.growingagreenerworld.com/episode-805-redeeming-your-ground/
http://redeemyourground.com/

Making do with what we have is an important approach. When you have excess, store it. When you don't have enough, use your stores. So you might consider developing some stores of goods while you can. Just sayin', cause it is the time of year (for most of us).

Here's the preservation hall jazz band playing Summertime (still a couple of weeks away)...
Derives its name from the Preservation Hall venue located in New Orleans' French Quarter. The band is known for performing traditional New Orleans-style jazz. The musicians in the groups have varied during the years since the founding of the hall in the early 1960s. Bands of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at Preservation Hall on 726 St. Peter Street in the French Quarter, and tour around the world for more than 150 days a year.

I hope you all have many more "well preserved" years. I would love to hear your favorite food storage techniques. Lots of approaches for lots of different crops. Wishing you the best of summer harvests and preservation. Go forth, produce, and preserve!

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Comments

Raggedy Ann's picture

Great essay today. They are always great, but this one is extremely helpful as we move toward that time of year where knowing how to can is good knowledge to have. I've never canned but know my time is coming, so I'm gonna treasure this essay and refer back to it over and over.

This is why I love this site so much ~ lots of knowledge imparting from the community. You all have changed my life in more ways than you'll ever know.

We've had good rain this week. We planted two new trees and a couple of shrubs. We've got more shrubs and perennials to plant today. Beautifying our place and making it our oasis is the goal. With all this planting comes a need for water. We'll be drilling a new well in July/August, fingers crossed.

Looks like we're drying up for a few days. Compared to our drought conditions last year, this year is verdant.

Have a beautiful Sunday and productive week, everyone! Pleasantry

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Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

Lookout's picture

@Raggedy Ann

We just revamped our well - new pump, pipe, tanks, and so on. It really helped our water supply. Our well is 150 foot deep with water just 20 foot deep. Here's wishing you a good underground stream to tap into!

Our newly planted chestnuts are doing great, but I watered them over our dry spell of 3 weeks. Nothing more important than water for newly planted perennials!

Have a good one!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Lookout's picture

You'll notice I neglected any of the news this week.

I caught several pieces which I found interesting including:
Chris Hedges talking with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture about Assange
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq_P9Nj6N58 (28 min)
Another interview with him with text...
https://therealnews.com/stories/un-torture-expert-says-assange-is-victim...

The United States has been at war in the Middle East for 18 years. We are fighting a shadow war called Operation Enduring Freedom (Operation Freedom's Sentinel) in 80 different countries. These wars are being fought over oil resources and millions of people have died. The US has impoverished it's citizens by spending $7 trillion dollars on war when that money is desperately needed at home in America. 1 out of 6 Americans lives in poverty and half the country can't afford a $500 emergency. Veterans are committing suicide in record numbers and there are 500,000 homeless Americans living on the streets. These wars have brought nothing but death and destruction to the world, and it's time to end them. They are authorized by a bill called the AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force). End the AUMF, and all of these wars become illegal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbDIdPyfPjM (12 min)

In a move critics warned could empower the Saudis to manufacture their own high-tech weaponry for use in their assault on Yemen, the Trump administration reportedly wants to allow the American arms giant Raytheon to work with the kingdom to construct bomb and missile parts inside Saudi Arabia.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/06/07/warnings-more-deadly-attack...

The anniversary of D-day was celebrated and the US sees itself as the great liberator, but in reality US oligarchs helped Hitler rise to power...
https://therealnews.com/loyal-to-their-class-unhinged-from-democracy
https://www.truthdig.com/articles/americas-forgotten-support-for-adolf-h...

Going-to-the-John-615x500.jpg

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

mimi's picture

@Lookout
I have no strength to add or make a good comment. But a 'thank you always' is in my mind reading your political news links as well of how to can, dry, store, and ferment the produce of your garden.

I regret to not have learned how to can and pickle stuff. My mother did some, but I left home too early to learn it from her.

I need to learn how to grow 'Pfifferlinge' = 'chanterelles'. They are so expensive here in Germany that I can't afford to buy them. I know they grow in the forests of Poland ... so may be I could try to grow them in our garden. Would be nice, wouldn't it?

Soils scientists ... nice.

Your links for sure go into my archives. Smile

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Lookout's picture

@mimi

We've had several days of rain and we should be seeing them soon. Last year we had a great harvest. We sauteed them with onion and garlic and froze those we didn't eat. Worked great.

IMG_7045.jpg
IMG_7036.jpg

Here's a growing guide...
https://everythingbackyard.net/chanterelle-mushrooms/

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mimi's picture

@Lookout
by just braking up a fresh chanterelle mushroom and sprinkle them near a wood trunk or wood roots. I am going to test my soil. Great !!! Thank you, lookout. The link was very helpful.

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Lookout's picture

@mimi

...glad it was helpful!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

mimi's picture

@Lookout
just asking ... I fear mine is not well enough pickled. My sister's is drying out and somehow it's not easy to get something juicy out of her.

kidding myself through a Sunday without purpose. Bye

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Lookout's picture

@mimi

There’s still a lot we have to learn about autophagy and how to best induce it. Beginning to induce autophagy by incorporating fasting and regular exercise into your routine is a great place to start.
https://draxe.com/benefits-of-autophagy/

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

mimi's picture

@Lookout @Lookout
...oh my poor body, I bet my own cells aren't very tasty... just kidding. When I have fasted for 24 hours straight for the first time, I will tell you how it went. Wink

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Lookout's picture

@mimi

A year or two ago. I regularly use 3 day fasts to get back into keto after splurging.

https://www.dietdoctor.com/intermittent-fasting/questions-and-answers
https://idmprogram.com/ Jason's site...
I'm remembering songs I forgot decades ago...I find it pretty amazing and healthful. I would love to hear your experience if you try. It doesn't happen after fasting once...it is the repeated fasting that allows you to "eat up" the plaque in your brain. I normally eat one meal (with maybe a snack) per day. The Japanese say...hunger is health, but once you reach a keto state you don't hunger like you do when insulin is rampant in your system. It is really a hormonal change.

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I have tried my hand at small grow in pot gardens without much success but will keep trying.

Have a brother in law with incredible green thumb that loves to garden but always has too much. Going back through articles on how to save/preserve veggies so will try my hand at some of these techniques because I have the big freezer!

Thanks again for all these weekly posts with such valuable info and the community discussions that follow

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Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

Lookout's picture

@jakkalbessie

Freezing is the easiest for most produce. Glad you came by, and it sure is nice to know D O has a brother that gardens.

Everyone can have a lettuce bed in pots or boxes...
As long as it gets regular water, lettuce can thrive in trays as shallow as 4” (10 cm), and pots of any kind, so it’s a great plant for container vegetable gardening.
https://www.grow-it-organically.com/growing-lettuce.html

All the best!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I like the alternatives for people who can't grow their own. I am becoming more convinced that collections of small steps can make a change. If we can avoid "one upmanship" in making environmental changes and just give encouragement for whatever an individual can do it helps a lot.

Farmers markets where I am are more expensive than grocery stores, (also better quality)and seem to cater to the summer/tourist crowd. Corn is pretty reasonable, but for poorer families it's disheartening to see them live among farms and only afford the chain stores.

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Lookout's picture

@Snode

I am becoming more convinced that collections of small steps can make a change.

It probably will not prevent the on coming climate collapse, but I can't help but feel something is better than nothing.

On another note, the farmer's market is a good way to get to know your local growers. Often they will give you a real deal on excess produce if you come by their farm/garden during harvest time. It isn't just about money though...it is our health. Fresh produce and home stored food is better for us.
https://foodrevolution.org/blog/why-buy-local-food/

Thanks for coming by!

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QMS's picture

A rip on the I Ching -- perseverance furthers...

Good tips on the fermenting and canning. We've been doing a lot of it over the last few years. Tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, rhubarb, green beans, & etc. The probiotic benefits of foregoing the vinegar when preserving does require refrigeration for longer periods. This I've learned. Also, the mason jar metal ring / lid used in canning is a single use item. Once the canning process is complete and the lid pops, take the ring off. Otherwise, you have to cut it off the jar after sitting in the cellar for a spell. For reefer purposes, Bell sells plastic lids (and silicone gaskets) which works better.

Putting in squash, peppers, pot, and butterfly & bee flowers today. Looking forward to the strawberries coming out next. Nothing like home made strawberry jam!

Good day all!

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Listen to your higher mind.

Lookout's picture

@QMS

....with home grown cabbage, and like you we store it in the fridge.

The sriracha recipe in the fermentation video will be my next fermentation experiment.

Good to hear from you. Have a great Sunday!

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ZimInSeattle's picture

reference. We currently have an overload of lettuce and radishes. They grow so fast! Looking forward to making more pickles and canning this year.

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"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." - JFK | "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine." - G. B. Shaw Bernie/Tulsi 2020

Lookout's picture

@ZimInSeattle

...similar to this recipe. Uses up lots of lettuce and is better than it sounds.
https://www.thepaleomom.com/lettuce-soup/

I bet the soup could be frozen too. Radishes keep well in the fridge for a good period of time. Glad to hear of your excellent production. Eat well and be healthy!

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Jen's picture

My mother used to can almost everything. My parents always had a garden full of vegetables. They gave a lot away to neighbors and then my mother canned what was left.

I truly wish she would have taken the time to teach me how to do it. I especially would have liked to have learned how to make her apple butter. Hers wasn't brown like the apple butter you find in stores, it was red because she said she crushed red hots (candies) and mixed those in before canning it. I cannot bring myself to even try the brown stuff that's sold in stores, so I can't say what the taste difference is. She also made the best canned grape juice I've ever tasted, the stuff they sell in stores doesn't even taste like the same thing.

I don't have a food garden myself. Yet. I do have a very big weed garden that used to be a flower garden many years ago. If I can ever get it cleared, I plan to plant some food. Then it will be a fight with the squirrels and chipmunks to keep them from eating everything.

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Lookout's picture

@Jen

Turning an uncultivated plot with many perennial weeds, into an abundant garden using the no-dig approach. all within a few months in 2013. NO DIG ABUNDANCE, a weedy field becomes garden in 9 months, using mulches only (13 min)

We used to can more, but tend to use the freezer more often these days. We also try to eat what is in season as it grows and change our diet as the year progresses. Our southern location allows for some winter production which we supplement with our stored goods. Good luck with your project and keep us posted on your progress. Feel free to ask about any problems you encounter.

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Jen's picture

@Lookout I just want to give you an idea of what I'm working with.

There are some flowers in there that I want to keep - lilies, iris, and a rose bush. There are also lots of hostas. I thought about digging them up to try to sell. I want to keep a few, but not very many. There was a half dead tree that you can see the stump from in the first pic, it just got cut down last week.
I cleared the whole thing when we moved in 2 years ago, but by mid-summer you couldn't tell I'd done anything.

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Lookout's picture

@Jen

My place was a sweet gum thicket when we first started (30 years ago).

You would have to transplant the iris and other plants you want to keep. (If you do it during the summer you'll need to water them.)

Hit up a store or recycling center for waste cardboard. Cover the whole area with cardboard, and then use the organic wastes you can find local...often for free....on top. Wood chips from tree trimmers, leaves raked from yards, grass clippings (provided they are not full of seed), ...you get the idea. Even better if you have a nearby farm or stable get a load of manure down on top of the cardboard before mulching the top. Knowing (or hiring) someone with a dump truck really makes easy work of it. If you can get that done by this fall, you'll be ready to plant by next spring.
Here's a similar approach...
https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/no-dig-gardening/
If you are aiming toward garden beds you can use the technique to lay them out.

I learned to mulch garden from Ruth Stout...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_FAm5zuJd8

Another option is thinking about growing tree crops like this fellow...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng-VskDFPpM

So lots of options. Let us know if we can help you with your project.

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mhagle's picture

But wow. Great stuff. I mostly freeze because you can do small batches, but need to get back into canning too.

Look forward to sitting down with this essay later on today!

(edited for spelling)

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Marilyn

"Make dirt, not war." eyo

Lookout's picture

@mhagle

I learned lots putting it together. I want to build a small down flow solar drier similar to the video.

Happy gardening!

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magiamma's picture

And all of ya...

Wow. Have to transfer this to a word doc and save. Good stuff. I’ve done lots of canning. Canned tomatoes and peaches are my two faves. Want to learn more about kimchi etc. tried it a bit. Not too hard to do really. It’s good stuff and good for you. Cold storage of farmers market items is a great idea. Thank you for that. I am recently re-traumatized by the ‘prodification’ of the food industry. So much is pre-packaged. Bummer. So potatoes and apples here I come. Wondering about those 100 year old eggs. Can that be done?

Have a good one...

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

Lookout's picture

@magiamma

In Europe eggs are not refrigerated...even hard boiled egg are sold off the shelf.

Saw a video this AM you might like...(12 min)

Here's a more hopeful piece about an interesting array of solar powered vehicles...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mwzLmagLtI (17 min)

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magiamma's picture

@Lookout
That video is powerful.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

those of us who can only buy our foods.

Thanks, Lookout!

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Lookout's picture

@HenryAWallace

You may not have crops, but you got chops!

Fermenting is something pretty easy and healthy for you. Evidently makes your biotics professional...or something like that.
(4 min)

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

They were wonderful. A dish of hot canned tomatoes is great on a Winter night and the peaches made a fine dessert. She did beans once, but it seemed too much work for too little reward. In the '90s I visited a peach processing plant in Georgia. Green baseballs bouncing down a conveyor belt. I admit that ripe peaches would have splattered everywhere. My Mom used tree ripe or almost tree ripe fruit from our backyard tree.
A friend of mine still cans peaches. He puts a tablespoon of brandy in each quart mason jar. You might try that with your home made brandy!

BTW, is the brandy good? or popskull?

EDIT: Another friend (in Crystal Lake IL) makes homemade hard cider from his backyard cider apple trees (organic grown). I forget the varieties, but Florina was one. He gave me half a bushel of Florina once and they were very good. Grandkids positively LOVED them. People, feed your kids healthy organic fruit, not refined sugar garbage!

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Lookout's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

a brewing hydrometer is used to measure either alcohol content or the potential alcohol content by taking a specific gravity reading. When distilling, a proofing hydrometer (also called a spirit hydrometer) is used to measure final alcohol content.

https://www.clawhammersupply.com/blogs/moonshine-still-blog/15278085-how...

As you start your run the first distillate will be very strong. At the end of the run (the backings) it becomes very weak (low alcohol). So the trick is to mix the backings with the rest of the run. I like 80 proof (40 percent). Most makers like much stronger 100 or 108 proof, but that is too hot for me. I don't drink or make brandy very often these days...more a habit of my misspent youth.

I'm with you 100% on feeding kids (and adults) good fresh fruit rather than processed sugars. How is your fruit set this year? Blueberries are our primary fruit crop and we are loaded!

Glad you dropped in!

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@Lookout @Lookout
After the record breaking Winter (-20F, -40F wind chill) everyone's stone fruits have no flowers and peaches had lots of dead limbs. It hurt to cut that all away. My peaches are Michigan varieties. I planted a Harglow Apricot last year and was doing great. Now the main trunk and three scaffolds are black and dead. I pulled up the one live scaffold up to form a new trunk. This was developed by the U of Saskatchewan for commercial growing in Canada!

I have a hygrometer somewhere that my Austrian grandfather used to make peach schnapps during Prohibition.
EDIT:

As you start your run the first distillate will be very strong.

my Mom told me she remembered her Dad waiting impatiently with a cup at the end of the coil. She said her Mom was not impatient and brewed the better stuff. She was a fine cook and worked as a young girl in the Imperial Palace in Budapest in the bakery.

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edg's picture

Being well-preserved sure beats the opposite!

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Lookout's picture

@edg

I feel lucky to have made it this far. Every day is a gift. That's why they call it the present!

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wendy davis's picture

great how-to links. we used to have a kinda truck garden, maybe a third of an acre, and i suppose it was because we live in a mormon area (LOL)...i'd bottle about 700 jars of fruit and veggies every year. i love canned beets and home-pickles, dill and bread and butters. in lean years, i'd even can (ugh) giant squashes, but home-canned sugar pumpkins are yummy.

pressure canners must cost a small fortune by now...

i know you have a blanch and shock section, but we grow a lot of italian basil, and when there's a big mess of it, i shock it with a bag of baby spinach Less than 5 mins. though), shock it ice water, strain it, squeeze it, and freeze in quart ziploc freezer bags...to make pesto later.

a few years ago, our blender died, and mr. wd bought one that actually reverses the grinder blades every now and again, and my, does that make the pesto smoother, as it does toasted sesame tahini and mezo-american roasted pepita sauce. (rick bayless has a recipe, but the one i learned has 22 ingredients, and is said to be the first recorded recipe in the americas.

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Lookout's picture

@wendy davis

in my youth but quickly learned to focus on self-sufficiency. It doesn't matter how full the glass is...we are on the same page pulling in the same direction...that makes us friends or at least allies. Keep speaking your truth! All the best my friend...

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wendy davis's picture

@Lookout

both, even though we often disagree. and see? you don't particularly well-preserved to me:
just falling-down wet!

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