Do you can your excess produce?

ssurbangardenerMarch 9, 2014

I love to can but have to buy the produce. My 64 square foot garden won't produce enough even in a good year I am afraid.

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We only hot bath tomatoes, plus freeze some of the other veggies. We give much of our produce away. I am hoping we learn more about preserving food because we have 6 vegetable beds totaling about 2500 sq. ft. and can easily grow more than we want to fool with.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:29PM
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wulfletons(Zone 7a)

I have a pretty small garden here (at least compared to many of the gardeners) and I had an even smaller garden when I lived in New Mexico. There are only two of us, but my husband cooks a lot. We have never had enough tomatoes to can (and really haven't even had very many to give away). If we devoted all of our garden space to tomatoes, I'm still not sure we would be able to to can tomatoes.
We always have enough basil to preserve (although we freeze it as pesto and don't can it).
Even in New Mexico, we have always had enough habenero peppers from 2-3 plants to can some hot sauce (in fact, we won't grow any this year because we made so much last year), and we get enough peppers from a total of 4-6 serrano and/or jalepeno plants to can a batch or two of pickled peppers. 3 tomatillo plants last year yielded enough fruit to can a few jars of salsa as well as several meals that featured tomatillos.
So, sure, with a small garden if you focus on the foods that you want to can, you can get enough, but at the cost of not growing as wide of a variety of veggies for fresh just kind of depends on how you want to approach it.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:38PM
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Yes, but most times I have to add from other sources to make it worth while.

So, I do. I manage to get tomatoes for instance from others, and then can them and what ever I can harvest at the moment.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:55PM
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We (like you) haven't had enough excess produce to require canning yet. Last year we froze a lot of snow peas and sugar snap peas, and dried a lot (a LOT! Way too many!) hot peppers. The year before we froze a giant batch of tomatillo sauce and that was all.

I am hoping that we will have enough green beans to make canning worthwhile this year.

I do like to stock up on whatever vegetable is on sale at the store though, and sometimes we will can the excess soup from that.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:52PM
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Nah, we never have enough to make canning worthwhile. I'm still learning what produces well for us and what doesn't, so I end up wasting a lot of garden space on things that don't give me anything (bell peppers, raspberries, watermelon, and winter squash were all duds last year). The first year I had cucumbers coming out my ears, but they were all slicing varieties so I gave them away. I did freeze some onions and green beans, though. I want to try pickling cukes at some point, which will probably be my first attempt at canning.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 1:38PM
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Last year was my first time canning and I wished I was able to can/freeze much more. Just like Krista, we consume a lot of tomatoes and I don't think I would be able to grow enough to fill that need. It was nice having home made salsa though. I also canned a lot of pickled cucumbers, hot peppers and okra and also froze a lot of bell peppers and hot peppers. Oh, I also made some Habanero Gold and Jalapeno jelly. That's with about 200 sf of raised beds. If I only had 64 sf I probably would not have canned much because it would only be enough for fresh eating but there's 4 of us and I cook a lot. I'm also in the process of adding 2 more 8x4 beds. There's not much grass left in my backyard.

I'm trying figure out how to get the most of my limited space by using companion planting so I can plant closely without limiting production too much. I also exclude some things if it doesn't produce a lot for the space it takes.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 4:29PM
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I mostly freeze veggies and fruit, but I do hot water bath pickled foods--not cucumbers, just things like beans, okra, asparagus, jalapenos and saurekraut--and applesauce. I freeze lots of veggies and fruits. We buy very little in the way of produce. I also dry a few things. I like to dry okra to add to stew. It may be my imagination, but it seems to me like drying it decreases the slime some.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:07PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

When my garden was smaller, I often purchased produce to can. After repeatedly enlarging my garden, I now can grow most of what I want to can. I still buy some types of fruit--some because we cannot grow them here in our alkaline soil and with our alkaline water (blueberries, for example) and others because the crop sometimes freezes during a late frost (peaches and plums). Sometimes I buy apples to make Apple Pie Jam, but sometimes friends who live near us give us their surplus apples, cherries, apricots and peaches.

Sometimes I see people giving away excess produce on our local FreeCycle website, so you might watch your local FreeCycle website during the harvest season. I'm surprised how many people offer free tomatoes (I'm betting they don't do any canning).

We not only can our garden produce, but also dehydrate it, freeze it, ferment it and root cellar the appropriate crops (potatoes, onions, garlic, sweet potatoes, winter squash and pumpkins). We still have onions, garlic and Seminole pumpkins from last year and all of them still are edible, except that some of the onions now are sprouting leaves. Our supply of home-canned foods almost never completely empty out. I'm just really careful to put the newest canned foods at the back with the older jars in front so we are always using the oldest canned foods first.

Dorothy, I think drying okra does decrease the slime factor, so I don't think you're imagining it. If so, I am imagining it as well.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 9:32AM
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Canning is a family tradition on both sides of our family. We try to can 50 quarts of green beans and about that much in tomatoes, every year. For the last few years Jerreth, my wife, has not been able to do so much canning. She's not been ill, just tied up with work, etc. So, last summer I undertook the task of refreshing my memory and doing some canning. I had, not only to get back into it, as we have tended to specialize in our respective areas of expertise, but also to adapt to canning smaller batches. I didn't have time for the way we used to do it either!

After a couple weeks I got to where I could can two to three quarts of tomatoes about twice a week. The key was to get a rhythm going.

This year we're really hoping to can green beans. Last year's crop was eaten by grasshoppers. Yet, looking through our stuff, Jerreth found enough canned beans from 2009 to get us through!

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 5:20AM
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I don't can anything anymore. In my opinion, if you have freezer space that is the way to go. Especially tomatoes. I just bag them whole and freeze them. When time to use some I just run water over them until I can slip off the skin and then while they are still a little solid, cut out any unwanted spots. It's easy and they are better and juicier than canned. If any have bad spots I cut them out before freezing and put them in one bag together. Every thing else I blanch and vacuum pack. Way better quality and nutrition than canning. Some people prefer the taste of canned, though and if you do you can just cook the heck out of frozen veggies and they will taste canned.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 12:44PM
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We are presently *down* to two large chest type deep freezers. For a while we had three. Part of the reason we put up our own food is preparedness. Canning is a very good way to be prepared for interruptions in the food supply and... interruptions in power.

In 2007, due to an ice storm, we went without power for almost two weeks. We transferred the contents of our freezers to our stock trailer, outside. We made it under the wire, that way, as power came back just as all that stuff was half way thawed. That episode convinced us that we needed to can some meat too.

Since that time we have also purchased a generator. But it still seems to be the better part of prudence to diversify.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 2:28PM
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