Monday, August 15, 2011

Packing summer into jars

The older I get, the bigger a fan I am of locally grown food (I'm getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger . . . )  As I write this post, I have Greg Brown singing "Canned Goods" to me:
Let the December winds below and blow  
I’m as warm as a July tomato.
Taste a little of the summer,
my grandma put it all in jars.
Eating local produce takes a bit of extra thought -- after all, it's awfully hard to buy Pennsylvania-grown, fresh tomatoes in January.  So paying attention to the seasons becomes important, and so does finding ways to preserve food.  For me, August is a huge food-buying month.

It turns out, the benefits go beyond nutrition to finance.  When local produce is ripe and abundant, it's also cheap.  For example, this weekend I spent a few hours exploring the southern end of our county, yard sale-ing and eventually making my way to Maplehofe, a local dairy I'd never been to.  Along the way, I stopped to pick peaches at a local orchard, and I stopped at several farmer's stands.  I purchased
  • 130 ears of corn for $27.50 (that's $2.75 per 13 ears),
  • 25 lbs of tomatoes for $7,
  • 52 lbs of peaches for $40 (that's 90¢ a pound), and
  • 40 lbs of ground beef for $123 (that's $2.95/lb).
Okay, the ground beef is not "in season", but it is local and hormone-free.  We're going to start up our big freezer now, and it seemed like it would be a good idea to fill it with something.  The dairy saw how much I was buying and said that the next time, if I called ahead and could wait for their next butchering, they could give me a better price (!).
Here's what 25 lbs of tomatoes and 52 lbs of peaches looks like.
130 ears of corn.  We gave away a dozen ears,and then froze 19 bags of shelled corn.
I spent about a half-a-day tooling around shopping, and I spent another two half-days canning and freezing the food.  Canning is a LOT more fun if you do it with a peppy friend whose favorite two words are "awesome" and "yay".  Thanks, K!

Devoting that much time to food all at once seems like a huge time-sink, but I know it will be worth it when winter rolls around and, instead of slogging to the grocery store, we go "shopping" for dinner in the basement.  I'll get to sing along with Greg Brown again:
Peaches on the shelf
Potatoes in the bin
Supper's ready, everybody come on in, now!

No comments:

Post a Comment