Monday, September 26, 2011


I want to be one of those people. One like lot of you who read this blog. A person who thinks enough of good wholesome food, and self-sufficiency that they will therefore put up some of her own food. I'm only partway there. And I have the cooked tomatoes to prove it.

To my credit, I did can peach jam a couple of weeks ago. It's not like one could subsist on jam when the going gets tough, however. I also bought a bucket (about two quarts' worth) of frozen pitted pie cherries from the farmers market that I plan to make jam out of, but they may end up in a couple of pies at some point.

When I started my vegetable garden last year, I had aspirations of being able to preserve some of my own food. Reading up on the current state of how food is grown scares me, and I wanted to contribute, or at least be in line with, some gist of the local agriculture movement here. I realize now a couple of things. First, the space I have devoted to vegetable gardening isn't nearly enough to produce enough produce at one time for me to preserve it. Plants do their thing, and even my determinate tomatoes have not ripened in any kind of organized fashion (my mistake for thinking they would - I thought that's what determinate meant).

Second, having a full time job, raising a kid half the time and trying to have a social life take up most of my time. Add in a couple of things I really like to do like play my banjo and knit, and spending most of my daylight hours on a weekend canning loses some of its appeal. There, I said it. This hit me yesterday, when I started in on a box of tomatoes that I had gladly accepted in lieu of eggs from the CSA I signed up for egg shares from, but whose chickens have been less than cooperative.

I dutifully blanched and removed the skin on them, and they just kept coming, and coming, and coming. And here's that tricky part. I didn't want to be there, doing that. I wanted to be doing something else (anything else?), and I couldn't stop because this needed to be done. And it didn't take all that long to peel, seed, and chop the tomatoes, and then get them into pots to cook down. About 4 hours. But my heart wasn't in it. My plan was/is to make spaghetti sauce, but I ran out of time and motivation. I probably should have started earlier.

So, for now, I have 12 quart-sized bags with about 2 cups each of cooked tomatoes in them. That's it. And my evenings are full until Thursday, so there won't be anything happening with them at least until then. I might try to find room in my freezer for them, so I can punt on the issue until I feel like I've got the time to add stuff to make sauce and have it taste good. Or, I might just have 12 bags of diced tomatoes that I'll add to chili and store-bought spaghetti sauce.

Ugh. It's more of a burden than it feels like it should be. It could be that I'm afraid of my new pressure canner. Yes, could very well be that. But still, making the time to devote to this worthy pursuit has proved difficult. I'll update on the fate of those tomatoes in a couple of days. I need to get ready for work.


  1. I think freezing them now is plenty good enough. . .you'll still be able to make sauce all winter. Sorry to totally overwhelm you :)

  2. I felt the same way after I tried cutting my own firewood. It was a relief to admit that no WAY was I going to do all that work every year. I think it's perfectly ok to know how to do it in case you need or want to, but have other priorities.

    Last year I tried canning tomatoes, but this Industrial Engineer efficiency expert couldn't believe that you actually have to take off the skins. So I've got jars of tomatoes, AND skins. I won't be canning tomatoes again, not as long as there's plenty of delicious options that aren't too expensive.

  3. Ain't that just it? There never seems to be enough hours in a day for what you want to get done.

    Producing and putting by your own supply of food takes a tremendous amount of time and effort. Tree-men-dous, I say. You have to want (for whatever reason) to do it. If it doesn't feel good to you to do it, it's not gonna happen. What's right for one person isn't necessarily right for another. We are all still lucky enough to be able to make our own choices. Don't beat yourself up or feel bad for making the choices that are right for you.

  4. Claire - it's OK, everyone should do that at least once!

    Jordan and MP - thanks for your wise words.


Hi, sorry to make the humans do an extra step.