B. and I will be finishing the strawberry jam today. That should give us 6 more pints for a total of 12 pints of strawberry jam. It's a good start, but I know there is much more canning to come.
We did pretty well last summer. I never had to buy jam (and we eat a lot of PB&J sandwiches), nor did I have to buy any pickles. The bread and butter pickles were pretty popular, though and while we still have some dills, we have run out of these. We will probably make more of the first type and less of the second this summer. The applesauce has also run out, so I will just have to take a deep breath and plan on a couple more days with the apples next fall. It's a lot of work to get everything made and canned, but there is something so satisfying about opening up the pantry and seeing all those jars sitting... not relying on any form of electricity to keep them preserved. I know where the fruit and vegetables came from, I know what other ingredients are in them, it is immensely satisfying.
As an experiment one of the things B. and I made last year were dilly beans (essentially pickled green beans). I wasn't sure how they would turn out or if people would like them, so I didn't want to commit too many of B.'s beans to them. (Pickled food needs to sit for 6 weeks or so before you can eat it, so we didn't know the results until after the beans were done.) Well, it turned out everyone loved them and two jars wasn't nearly enough, so we will be making a lot more of these this summer. Plus, they are incredibly easy to make. B. has put in quite a few more beans for the purpose.
The other thing I want to try is tomato puree and perhaps catsup. We use a lot of tomatoes in our cooking and it would be nice to have some homemade stuff to use. I will do this if I can find a cheap source of tomatoes at the farmer's market. Our tomato plants only (barely) supply enough eating tomatoes... we don't have nearly enough to process. So, we'll see if this happens. Anyone have a good catsup recipe they want to share?
I know this all seems like a lot of work when we have two grocery stores within a block of us. But while I would have made a perfectly dreadful pioneer, I do have a strong self-sufficiency streak and like knowing I made our food myself. I also like that my children see how food is made and that they had the experience of picking it themselves. Food is not just something that comes in a pretty package in a store. Preserving food also helps with my goal of only eating food in season... it's less expensive, tastes better, and when you have waited all winter for the first strawberry it is so much sweeter for having had to wait for it.