Friday, September 21, 2007

Canning Produce: The Last of the Season's Tomatoes

posted by Janine Bolon

My family and I were out picking the last of the tomatoes today. This time of year is so full of excitement and fun for all of us. We're harvesting the last few fruits and veggies of the garden. Finishing up the apples and pears and then the real work begins in the kitchen as I set to work putting all the stuff into jars to last us through the winter. I love canning. I watched my mom do it for years and I remember how "grown up" I felt when I was finally allowed to do more than just cut the apples! We live a mile up so our growing season is much shorter from southern Missouri's season. (That's said, Miss-our-ah! for those of you who haven't traveled that region of the country!)

I have several frugal friends who have asked me what are they to do about growing their own food when they live in a small condo on the 6th floor! Even if you are a city dweller and you don't have the option of large amounts of land. Know that you have options. For the first 14 years of my marriage I lived in apartments moving every 18-24 months because of rental prices. I learned how to have gardens in pots. I would buy large pots and then plant two to four plants in them and fertilize like crazy and water them every day. You have to be a bit more attentive with garden pots, but the fresh tomatoes, squash, basil and lettuce make it all worth while.

One reader asked me about canning when you can't grow your own fruit and veggies. That is a bit more challenging. Unless I can get my fruit free or at a super low price like 45 cents or less a pound. I have found that you really don't save yourself much money to can produce that you have to buy. Of course, when I lived in southern California, I would buy strawberries by the cases and would make jelly out of them, just because I love my homemade jelly and I enjoy canning. I wasn't going after the savings for this activity. I was doing it for fun. Not everyone has my warped sense of "fun."

Let me know how you go about saving money on food. Do you can your own or do you just throw your extra produce into the freezer and use it for smoothies and such?

One last note for you good people who are space deprived for gardening. I heartily recommend "The Square Foot Garden" book to you. I used this method for seven years while I lived in a 1,500 sq ft townhouse in southern California where my back patio was dwarfed by the 6 ft by 6 ft square, raised garden we had constructed for tomatoes, lettuce and herbs.


Carrie Lauth said...

Thanks for the book recommendation Janine. I'm about to move into an apartment and was wondering how I was going to be able to plant some herbs and tomatoes. :)

Downshiftingpath said...

Think vertical. You can also use shelves in front of windows ( glass ones) so that you can grow all your herbs etc.

As to produce, we put a note in the local shop window offering to pick fruit for people in their gardens, no money as such just a share of the produce as many people are so abundant and just let the fruit fall to the ground. We have a supply of plums, apples and quinces that way. For people who do not like canning you could offer them some back, but we ask them to provide the jars. This has worked well in the past and our small boys like to go picking. We are off crushing apples today and will come back with about 15 plastic bottles of apple juice for the freezer.