Setting Food By

Today was Bountiful Basket day again and I still had half a case of tomatoes left.   A case of tomatoes is a lot for a family of two.   This morning found my husband and I preparing tomatoes for the freezer before we headed in to town to get our next batch of produce.  All of this reminded me of my mom who was the preservation queen.   What this means is she could figure out a way to put anything by for use to feed our family in the winter.      We were like the Salvation Army of food; nothing was ever turned away or wasted.  She made grape juice one year when some one gave her a couple of bushels of concord grapes.   My family had a recipe for canned carp, that tasted very much like salmon.  Carp were the fish, that the local fishermen did not want and our family could get them for the price of gas to the commercial fisherman’s dock.   The year our freezer failed, my mom was pulling things out and reprocessing them in fruit jars to prevent a loss.   We had a preference for our veggies frozen but that year they were all canned.

I used to can, dehydrate, and freeze quite a bit. I had learned from the best.     I had gotten away from it since moving to Montana ten years ago.   Produce here stinks to put it mildly.   I must admit I was a little intimidated by the alterations that you need to make for the decreased of pressure at this altitude.  I  got rid of my old pressure canner. It was ages old from a rummage sale when I got it and I could not get weight adjustments that I would need for here.   It seemed like the right thing to do.

I do have a “Food Saver”, though I call it a “Seal-a-Meal” (that dates me).   We bought it to use when we butchered our chickens. Today we learned how to use it to save our tomatoes.       I made two batches of a crock-pot  marinara sauce, fire roasted salsa, and prepared cooked tomatoes.   All of these I put by using my vacuum pack system. I must say when I am done, it doesn’t have the same impact of looking at all those pints of tomatoes all lined up in crystal clear Ball jars.  I can say that it was much quicker.    It also allowed me to put up small batches as needed  without hauling all my canning stuff out and then processing for the extended length of time required.     I am not sure that I save much if any money, as these Food Saver bags are not inexpensive or really reusable like fruit jars. I do know that we are going enjoy knowing our chili and spaghetti  meals are made with tomatoes that are not full of salt, and extra’s that we don’t want or need.

This co-op system may have me rethinking about pulling out my dehydrater and if I need to replace my canner.   Stay tuned.



3 comments on “Setting Food By

  1. Like you I love storing food for the future. Unlike me Egyptians don’t! Which strikes me as very strange in a culture where so many people live below the poverty line! They have a starvation attitude; While its there eat it quick! However, they are not starving and wouldn’t struggle so much if they learned to store things for the future! I store tomatoes, made into passata, for when the price of tomatoes is sky high, such as now! I make jam when the fruit is in season and dry things but no-one else does. When they run out they just ask for it from others, which can be very bloody annoying when I have spent so much time saving it for times of lack! I always give them a share when I have stored things but they eat it immediately instead of saving it and eating it slowly. Drives me crazy!
    I realised years ago that my desire to save food for the future comes from cultural memories of the Irish famine. Irish families in the 60’s saved everything and made things last as long as possible. memories of great grandparents, who had family who died in the famine, took a long time to shift!
    But I will still save for the future! It’s inbuilt in me, and I just love the colours of stored canned food.

  2. I found that Menards have the vacuumed seal a meal bags much cheaper than the brand that goes with the sealer and just as heavy. I don’t imagine you have a Menard’s there as think it is a Wisconsin based company but you might find them some place else. I’m like you, I like to see the jars of things, but some things just like frozen better. But I still can even though it is just me. Get things given to me and don’t waste a thing.

    • We are talking about how much we miss cinnamon pears. Not sure if that is enough to justify all the expense to get back into canning, but store bought cinnamon pears are a sad imitation of my recipe. I still have my special utensil to core pears, so there is still hope.

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