I spent a few summers in my twenties teaching myself to can foods (sounds pretty wild, huh?). I had seen my aunts, grandmother and a few friends do it and figured I could, too.
I was successful. I learned all about the methods and accumulated all the right equipment and was kinda proud of my little homesteading hobby.
Fast forward five years....and I've got 17 jars of pickles and hot peppers that aren't going anywhere, enough empty mason jars to line the street with luminaries, as well as plenty of cabinet-space-stealing equipment that all must be taken out and utilized if canning is to occur.
I said, "There's got to be a better way."
I'm all about eating with the seasons and preserving the bounty of each season to enjoy other times of the year. Canning helped me feel like I was doing this, but the reality was that I canned a lot of things that I found no use for later. (Seriously, pickled peppers anybody?)
This year I've realized that there is a method that works much better for me: FREEZING!
I've been blessed throughout this summer, often bringing home a delicious bounty of ripe farm fresh fruits and veggies. We eat a very veg-heavy diet, but there was no way to consume the amount of fruit and veggies that I've scored in the last few months.
It started out with the summer berries. I made 5 quick pints of strawberry freezer jam but just washed, dried off, and froze the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries that found their way home with me. While we use fruits mainly for smoothies, they are ready to use in any kind of pie, jam, or quickbread I could imagine.
Along the way this summer I realized that those freezer bags that Ziploc makes are for real. They are no joke. I thought I could use my store brand zippy bags and be frugal and it wouldn't matter. Heed my words: it matters.
This week alone I prepped and froze 7 quarts of peaches, 5 quarts of sliced peppers, and 2 quarts of tomato sauce. Easy to store, easy to identify, easy to use a small amount, and easy to put right back in the freezer. My happy little freezer.
In the meantime, I've found that Mason jars are great for brewing and storing iced tea. For the whole neighborhood.