Friday, September 3, 2010

to can or not to can (thinking ahead to next year)

I am overwhelmed by vegetables from our farmshare. Last night I picked up another six pounds of tomatoes, plus four pints of cherry tomatoes, plus a big bag of paste tomatoes. That’s in addition to the 10 pounds of tomatoes plus four pint of cherry tomatoes I got last week. While I can feed a few to River, I’m basically the only one in the house that eats them. And I cannot eat nearly that many. This is only a halfshare on the farm. I can’t imagine how the people who have full shares manage.

My current strategy is to throw the tomatoes in Ziplocs and freeze them. I can use them for soups, stews and sauces in the winter. But that takes up a lot of space and the large freezer we bought for the basement is already full. My strategy for next year is to try to empty the freezer before summer, so I’ll have room for lots of produce. But I’m also rethinking other strategies.
Should I give up on the farmshare? I like supporting local agriculture, it’s been a great educational experience to take River out there weekly to pick with me, and it’s wonderful to have access to delicious organic goods. But if I bought only what I needed, I’d probably spend less and not be so burdened with use and storage.

Should I try canning? We have a cool little room in the basement probably used to be a storage area for cans. If we invested a bit in finishing it, it would make an excellent storage room. It would be nice to have fresh, local, natural products available all year and they would make great gifts. I was inspired by this NPR piece I heard today.

But canning requires an investment in products, and it’s work. I already have enough work. I make yogurt and ice cream and baked goods and soups and meals. I realized during my 10 days at adult-summer camp that being fed all my meals saves me a HUMUNGOUS amount of time. While I don’t mind working with food, there are things I enjoy more – like sleep, reading, writing, exercise, spending time with people. Do I really want to spend more hours in the kitchen, to make stuff that I’ll mostly be eating? Given that I tend towards hoarding food, do I really want more stuff to store?

Or do I just freeze what I can and give the rest away?

Any suggestions?

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