to educate, inspire and equip the urban homesteader

Lessons in what to preserve

February 28, 2011

One of my many canning storage locations

Each year I’ve put away harvest for the winter I’ve learned something new. Sometimes I learn a better technique or process that makes the job easier, quicker or creates a more attractive end product. More often than not, though, the most important thing I’m learning by March 1st is what I wish I had saved more of!

In light of that I’m making a list, lest I forget. I encourage you all to do the same!

Preserved goodies I wish I had more of:

  1. 1) Canned tomatoes, always canned tomatoes. Even after preserving 100 lbs of tomatoes this year (which I split with a friend), I still find my selection of jars dangerously low. We just use a lot of tomatoes all year. I love making hearty soups in the winter and Jared’s your meat braise man. What’s a couple to do when they run out?? Next year, 150 lbs!

    Delicious preserved dry farm early girls

  2. 2) Dried champagne grapes.  You can imagine my joy when Terina, my canning pal, showed up with a crate of delectable tiny purple champagne grapes.  I turned some into yummy jam, froze some and dried the rest.  I didn’t have a fancy dehydrator (still don’t, but it’s on the wedding registry!) so I dried them in the oven with the door open and a fan blowing in.  I know, I know, not terribly eco-friendly but what’s a girl to do?  In the end these little beasts were so tasty.  I have a mere tablespoon left, which I’ve been holding onto because I can’t face the idea of running out.  I just ate a handful and that last tablespoon might not see nightfall.

    The last remaining tasty morsels of champagne grape raisins

  3. 3) Things other people made! I swear to dog, either hours of processing and canning tire me so much of something that I don’t ever want to see it again or other people are just so much better than me at preserving yummy goodness than I am.  I’m seeing the trend of canning swaps grow so don’t be surprised to see a FARMcurious swap coming soon to a location near you!


Speaking of canning exchanges and amazing things made by other people, this might be a good time to mention that I have a reward for anyone who can identify the person who made a certain jar of jam that I received in an exchange at Eat Real Fest 2009.  This delectable treat is reminiscent of bergamot tea-scented apricot jam and came in this tiny re-purposed artichoke hearts jar.  It was so incredibly delicious, complex yet delicate, and I have no idea who made it or how.  Please, please spread the word so I may meet this master of the preserving arts and learn their secrets!

Reward for the creator of this jam!

What delicious things did you put away this year and what are you already running out of?


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  • How much room do you think someone needs in the house to store enough preserves? Like one small closet or just a few boxes. Curious. :)

    • Well, that’s a loaded question. :-) We have five shelves in two different cabinets dedicated to things I canned last year. We also have more empty jars than I care to admit stored in the crawl space under our house – both that haven’t been used yet and that have already been used up and are ready to go again for next year. I think the thing people forget is that if you can every year you have to have storage for the empty jars too as you go through your supply. They never go away but exist in various stages – full in the pantry, half-eaten in the fridge and empty in the garage, awaiting the next harvest. Maybe you’re not as insane as I am though? ;-)