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Out With the Old

September 5, 2013

Another staple in our winter diet is winter squash.  We grow one variety because we are saving seeds, and I don’t have enough room for isolation.  But this squash tastes good enough to satisfy our taste buds for winter squash fixed in any manner.  But even I tire of winter squash come spring.

Sweet Meat winter squash

Sweet Meat winter squash – 2012 crop leftovers destined for the hen house

It keeps so well if properly cured that I still have squash left over from the harvest last fall.  This time of year is really the time to be honest in your pantry stocking.  In June when the garden is just getting started I can’t really bring myself to throw out things we haven’t eaten yet.  Many items languish though until fall, whether it is just because we are tired of a particular vegetable or because some foodstuff is taking up space because it is not being consumed because no one likes it.

Last week I went through our canned goods and dry storage, checked dates and pulled items and jars of *jam or fruit we’ll never eat or use, and a few pickle type things and committed them to the pig bucket.  Sometimes I will make  more in the current year and use my old stock first,  but sometimes we just had too much because of a bumper year and sometimes the food goes to the pigs or chickens because we really will never eat it.  In that case, I make a pact with myself to never waste the time to preserve that item again.  I doubt I will ever can pears again, despite it being a reliable crop for us, no one likes pears here, so this year I bartered my crop for things I didn’t grow and everyone including me is much happier.  Winter pears will be put away for eating fresh and canned pears will not fill my pantry.  That’s just keeping it real and honest, and trying remove some of the guilt of not putting up every single thing in sight.   I am beyond that time in my life when I try to disguise foods in a cake or bread just because I know it will disappear with the trappings of butter, sugar and flour.  Pigs and chickens have this unique attribute of being able to turn those canning extras into bacon and eggs.  Amen to that.

That feeling is in the air, with almost the same fervor as spring cleaning, this is fall cleaning and stocking up.  We are expecting a real rain storm in the next day or so, which really accelerated harvesting of some crops and leaving others.  I found myself spending the entire afternoon harvesting tomatoes before the rain would split them, because despite them having the run of the greenhouse, I haven’t watered them since the first week of August, and rain outside now means split tomatoes inside, they are sweet but mighty thirsty.  By dark thirty I was still in the garden harvesting corn too, it was ready, I wasn’t.  So today, the final batches of salsa, more tomato soup and a wheelbarrow of corn to boot.

Happy Harvest Time!

* a quick note:  low acid home canned vegetables are not safe to feed to animals if they haven’t been cooked after opening due to the danger of botulism.  Treat the vegetables you’re discarding as if you were eating them yourself and cook them first to destroy the botulism spores.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. cathylee permalink
    September 5, 2013 8:39 am

    Cooking won’t destroy the spores. It destroys the heat labile toxin. Botulism spores could still be there and allow botulism to grow. So feed as soon as it is cool enough after cooking.

  2. September 5, 2013 9:19 am

    I absolutely agree about not canning food no-one eats. This is why I don’t do beans (I know you love them .. please forgive me!) and this is why I am Whining because I don’t have enough gherkins in the cellar yet. I love pickles in the winter! No-one eats frozen corn really so I make corn relish which everyone eats. I will do my clean out next week, some of the jars down there are a couple of years old (naughty Mama). I am going to take your reasoning a step further and the list for the gardens next year is going to be refined too. So we only grow what we will eat and what grows well. Pigs and chickens are the most wonderful animals on the property. I would go so far as to say you cannot do without hens. They are my clean up crew. Have a lovely day.. Give Jane an extra nuzzle from me,I am missing my fresh milk and my frozen butter and milk and ice cream is almost at an end too! I have to BUY milk! horrors.. c

    • September 5, 2013 9:34 am

      C., yes on the list for the garden too, and I have to admit the jam was 6 years old – I looked at it last year and said Nah what if the zombies come? I’ll give them jam and they’ll go away! This year I wanted the jars, and the pigs really relished the blackberry jam so it was meant to be. I have to agree, my hens clean up more goods than the pigs any day. Jane gets first pick, then hens, then pigs. I’ll add another hug for Jane, we’ve been watching her like a hawk dreading her cycling….but she’s a couple of days over so maybe a cautious sigh of relief from this milkmaid 🙂

    • M in NC permalink
      September 6, 2013 5:37 am

      C, ,,, My mother removes the corn kernals from the cob. Then the corn is cooked ( micro wave usually, plain, no seasoning), allowed to cool , packed into small (1/2 pint?) freezer containers and then to the big freezer. Cooking before freezing helps with taste. I’m not a chemist, so I don’t know the whys, but I imagine it has to do with the sugars and carb content.

      After you pull it out of the freezer, it can be put in soups/stews, or just microwaved/heated until it is nice and warm and ready to eat. We don’t salt our food, so I would just say season to taste. We had some fresh yesterday … what was leftover from a dozen ears a friend brought us (her nephew has a farm in the county).

      M in NC

  3. Bev permalink
    September 5, 2013 10:40 am

    I find myself sometimes hanging onto things in our pantry. You have a very good idea. I am always needing jars. Having chickens provides so much. Always loved taking a wheelbarrow of weeds from the garden and giving them to the chickens. They disappeared. Weed seeds and insects, too. If we found a nasty worm our kids loved to toss it to them and watch to see who would get to eat it first. Our pantry, freezer is almost full. Pickling beets today. The wood is stacked and Fall is in the air.
    Thank you. I made your salsa recipe and roasted the tomatoes. Tastes great.

  4. September 5, 2013 10:40 am

    Ah, pigs. I can’t wait to ship them when they get to 300 pounds but within a few days I’m tired of composting all that garden waste and ready for more. Right now we’re in hog heaven (haha…snort) with apple drops and the garden rotating from summer to fall crops.

  5. September 5, 2013 10:45 am

    I didn’t know that about the low acid veggies. I am always opening them up and eating a green bean or whatever here and there w/o heating them. Oops.

  6. September 5, 2013 12:50 pm

    Just had to stop by to say how much I enjoy your blog … “by dark thirty” made me smile.
    I want a farm quite badly (I even took a backyard chicken keeping class), but the husband isn’t quite on-board. Looks like I need to use your brilliant reasoning that “pigs and chickens have this unique attribute of being able to turn those canning extras into bacon and eggs.” Amen indeed!

  7. bluegg permalink
    September 6, 2013 7:13 am

    Hello! I’m a longtime reader and fellow farmer, admiring your farm from across the country. I’m new to pressure canning and we love beets just sliced over salads or served cold from the jar. Am I endangering my family? I’m following instructions from Ball and NCHFP. I thought botulism spores where killed with proper pressure canning and low acid veg was then safe to eat straight from the jar without further cooking! Thank you for your help, in this and all farmy matters. By the way, your post on cow adrenal swirls was eyeopening!

    • September 6, 2013 7:40 am

      blugg, I’m just repeating the information available in the Ball Blue book and what I learned from the extension, that low-acid foods should be boiled at least 10 minutes before eating. In my kitchen we don’t really eat any low-acid foods that I have canned that won’t be cooked so I never really think about it. On the other side of the coin there are the folks that say “I haven’t died yet.” And I personally have eaten home canned meats cold from the jar so following the USDA guidelines isn’t always what people do, I just wanted to add that, since I was posting about using old canned goods and feeding it to my livestock.

      Thanks for reading!

      • bluegg permalink
        September 6, 2013 8:46 am

        Thank you! I guess I have more reading and learning to do (every day, right?!).

  8. Lane permalink
    September 6, 2013 2:54 pm

    Great post! I had to laugh about what I’ve canned and not used– how about some rhubarb juice? I don’t pressure can, but I do put up dilly beans, tomatoes and all our jam. The rest I freeze. I make a tomato, corn, bean sauce with herbs that smells like summer in january. I freeze blanched string beans with excellent results.

    • September 6, 2013 3:31 pm

      Lane. LOL, try kiwi juice! It goes down a lot harder than rhubarb juice, and I figured out the cure for too much rhubarb this year – I made wine 🙂 Pretty good I have to say.

  9. September 11, 2013 6:42 pm

    Ok- I tried the Sweet Meat and they are pretty pathetic, but that could be because I grew them in a Three Sisters environment with corn and beans.

    What kind of amendments and environment (by themselves? full sun?) are you using for them.

    I’m not giving up- I just want to do better next year.

    • September 11, 2013 7:07 pm

      Paula, they are heavy feeders and need lots of space, lots of lime too. Delicata has always been my choice for three sisters, but the three sisters has gone the way of free-range hens on this farmstead, by the wayside, too mythical and a major PITA for harvesting, read I don’t have a bunch of grunts to the harvesting, I’m the grunt! Plus I don’t need the nitrogen factor of the legume. Yes, full sun and the warmest place you have. Mine are in hills 4 feet apart in the row and 8 feet between rows. They have filled that space up, it’s a jungle.

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