There is an obscene amount of canning going on around here. In the space of about a year we went from two and half eaters in our house to feeding five. I mean, sure, technically there were 5 of us last summer, too, but you know-- throw some noodles and some brocolli their way and we were good. Sam sucked the marrow of his precious tofu and they would happily split an apple three ways for a snack and declare themselves full. People make jokes about feeding boys and I wondered if it was some gender-biased myth. Hah.
IT IS NOT A MYTH.
I've almost always done some kind of canning or freezing, but this year I've gotten really serious about it. I realized that my little boys didn't know what applesauce was because I had stopped buying it and apples never got cheap enough last year to make any. So, as of this year, I know that 40lbs of apples (with peel and minus the core), gives us about 15 quarts of sugarless sauce. If I process the same amount of romas, I get about 24 quarts. I learned that I do not own big enough pots, we can never pick enough blueberries, and I am surprisingly picky about peach varieties. We got ourselves a fruit guy and joined a vegetable buying club.
I have been refering to old standbys for preserving advice: Joy of Cooking, More With Less, and familiar recipes and methods that I've grown up with. I really love Small Batch Preserving for those times when I've needed to kill off those last pieces of fruit, and I'm still sifting through Jen's links for favourites. So many of our friends preserve-- we trade around equipment, recipes and comment on how gorgeous each other's steam bathed skin looks (I will take it where I can get it).
This week I'm going to label, tally, and figure out how I can do a better job for next year. Do you put up food? Do you do it for pleasure or out of necessity (or both)? My mom was visiting and while we were mashing tomatoes into jars, she commented on how glad she used to be when canning season was coming to an end. The desire to feed these boys for less this year is a great motivator, but I'm starting to understand her end-of-season sighs of relief.
***edited: I re-checked my quart count on the tomatos and we are right around 24 plus a few pints. I will say that it was probably closer to 50 lbs instead of 40, though. They were whole, skinned romas (smashed them down with a spoon in their own liquid) with a little salt, lemon juice and a couple of basil leaves.