At this time of year, every weekend is a marathon of canning. We have such an abundance of local produce here in Colorado Springs in late August and early September, I could spend all my time doing nothing but admiring it. But if that’s all I did, we’d have to eat expensive, cardboard flavored grocery store produce in winter or eat commercially canned food.
And so I take the time to preserve it.
So far, this year, I’ve frozen…
- Six one-gallon bags of green beans
- Four one-gallon bags of ancho peppers
And canned …
- Seven quarts of apricots in cherry juice
- Six quarts of peaches in apple or cranberry juice
- 21 pints of crushed tomatoes
I usually do the canning at night because the house gets so hot. If you do your own canning, you’ll know what I mean. It takes a lot of heat to boil a canner full of water and here at 6,000 ft you have to process the jars an extra 15 minutes. At times, I’ve been up until 2:00 AM … much to the delight of the kittens. In their little feline minds, that’s how it’s supposed to be. In my simian mind, I should have been asleep by 9:00 PM.
If you live in or around Colorado Springs, you can get all this produce too. If you’re serious about preserving local produce, Grant Family Farms offers a preserving share, which gets you five, ten or fifteen items in bulk, as they become available. I’ve gotten several boxes from the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers too, with our “neighborhood buying club” (we call it the “Hungry Chicken Local Produce Club” because …. well, I’m sure you can figure it out) .
If you’re just testing out your preserving skills, visit the Colorado Farm and Art Market. Farmers often bring boxes of seconds to sell for canning. (“Seconds” are fruits or vegetables too small or funny looking to sell by the pound, but perfectly good for cooking.) Or check out the Venetucci Farm farm-stand on Saturday mornings from 9AM – 1PM. Susan, the farmer, has lots of pickling cucumbers at 75 cents a pound right now and later she’ll have lots of something else good for pickling, maybe beets. If you want garlic, for pickling or drying, check out Hobbs Family Farm, where you can order a garlic share.
If you’d like to learn to can or revisit what your mother or grandmother taught you, visit my Class Schedule page. I’m offering a fourth canning class this year at Venetucci Farm on September 8th, to help kick off Local Foods Week. It’s a hands-on class in which we’ll make pickles while discussing the basics of canning and pickling. You’ll take home a jar of pickles, lots of information on how to can safely and even where to find information about freezing and drying food.
With all that information, who knows what you might preserve next?