One of the questions that I get asked from time to time is how we preserve our harvest. When we first started preserving food, even before putting things in the freezer, we chose to can as much as possible. We started off pressure canning, and then later on, I learned how to water bath can as well. Today, our food preservation includes not only canning and freezing but also dehydrating and curing food.
Above, you'll see some of our home-canned food and most of our teas and herbs stored in this hutch that was built by my father-in-law, Richard. We've got both herbs we foraged and those we've grown, dehydrated, and stored in glass jars in the upper part of the hutch. On the countertop, tomatoes are ripening from our summer harvest. We've also got a tub of quinoa that we harvested and winnowed a while ago. And, of course, in the ceramic jar are bones for our dog, Mojo. Finally, the wooden chicken holds medicines and supplements for the chickens, ducks, cats and dog. The lower shelves in the hutch hold apple and pear cider, canned pears, salsa, jams and jellies, beets, applesauce, and spicy dilly beans.
The rest of our home-canned foods are stored in the kitchen, allowing easier access this year than prior years when we kept this food in the cellar. Our vintage kitchen features eight of these high shelves, where a chair or stool is required to reach. I believe these cupboards were built with home-canned food in mind, as the shelves are the perfect height for the jars. The shelves also work great for storing extra empty jars.
These shelves hold tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, zucchini relish, canned summer squash, zucchini pineapple, green beans, tomatillo salsa, more jams and jellies, and home canned tuna.
About once a week, I get a chair from the dining room and climb up to the long, high row of shelves to get supplies for upcoming meals. And when I do that, I often feel like I'm grocery shopping in my own private store. The same feeling strikes me as I go out to the garden to gather fresh greens this time of year -- lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, cilantro, parsley, and bok choy. So many foods are right here in and around our home, allowing us to avoid buying these foods from the grocery store or shop mid-week for fresh ingredients. It's that way with eggs, too, as we have enough hens to keep our family stocked with eggs over the colder months. Our girls have slowed down production, but they haven't stopped entirely, giving us one to three eggs total each day during fall and winter.
Having a well-stocked pantry, freezer and apothecary has become one of our favorite parts of the farm. The preserved food is a blessing because we don't have to worry about food security. This has especially been true during the pandemic. We are also less impacted by disruptions that exist in the supply chain during these uncertain times. If necessary, we would have enough food to sustain us without going to the store, since we have protein sources, including eggs and fishing within walking distance, and all the vitamins and nutrients provided through homegrown foods. We also have medicinal herbs all around us. I am ever so grateful for these blessings.