We are well beyond the halfway point of the mountain growing season. Some of the tomatoes have died back, the beans are still producing, the kale and chard have been pruned back for another growth spurt as the weather cools.
When we lived in the city and I still worked, the only preserving that I did was to pickle whatever jalapenos I could grow in my backyard garden and as an annual tradition, my Dad and I would make pomegrante jelly together. The tradition began one year when his pomegrante bush was very prolific, stalled for a few years when he and Mom moved from the home of my childhood due to Mom’s health. A few years later, after my mom passed, he remarried and moved into Norfolk, a neighbor of his offered the poms off of his bush and the tradition renewed until that neighbor moved and the new neighbor put up a privacy fence and I moved to the mountains.
Shortly after moving here, I heard about the Common Book Project and they were reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I decided to read along. That book changed my approach to life. It is about living locally, producing and preserving food if you can. As living locally is the theme in this community, it was doable. The garden morphed into the produce that could be root cellar stored, frozen, canned, pickled, or jammed, that I knew we would actually eat. The local farmer’s market has pasture raised beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, locally made cheese, soap, starter plants, bread and more. There is a local dairy that bottles in glass, also makes butter and sells in one of the supermarkets. Other than snacks, coffee, tea and bananas, we are living locally.
So far this year, there are about 60 pints of tomatoes and pasta sauce canned, dozens of jars of 3 different jams and pickled jalapenoes, pounds of beans and peas, plus some tomatoes in the freezer and the freezer awaits the half beef and half pig we have ordered from our neighbor friend that sells at the market. We hope to eventually have our own beef and chicken for meat and eggs. It is nice knowing where your food is from and how it is grown. It is wonderful to be able to preserve it for the season that does not provide and during the winter, I will resume baking our own bread, it is just too hot in the summertime.