Thursday, October 27, 2016

Saints Preserve Me, and My Sweet Potatoes




I am obsessed with food of late.
It's all I think about, dream about, google about. I do not Tweet about it however. I don't know how.

I am obsessed about how to freeze it, can it, dry it, hang it, cook it, anything at all to fill our larders full as our bank account steadily empties. No worries, (she said half-heartedly) it's all part of the Poor Farm Plan.  But as we get closer to our goal of living under the poverty line (about $16,000 for two in Illinois) the more Holy Basil tea I am gulping.

It has mild sedative qualities you know.

Although I have canned and frozen food before, it was, sort of a hobby. We did not HAVE to do it, we did it because home grown food tastes better and is scientifically better for your health. It's also a satisfying task. Our income the first twenty years of our marriage allowed us to buy food at the grocery store willy-nilly, as our appetites desired. This year however, is the year of truth. Our income is dribbling away so we must ramp up the whole self sufficiency package. Walking the walk and all that.

So far this past summer I've canned green beans. yellow beans, tomatoes, salsa, sauerkraut, and ketchup. I've frozen corn, onions, peppers, pumpkin, eggs, and more tomatoes. I'm not bragging, just counting up number of meals. At this point I figure we can make it through February. So to get us into March I'm now moving onto sweet potatoes.



Unlike so many of my other blogger friends who did not have the best sweet potato crop this season, we were crazily blessed with more than enough. So much so, we were able to support several big mice found under the plastic mulch we used. We won't do that again over any root vegetables. Made for one great rodent hotel with unlimited food and shelter from the weather. We estimate we lost about 1/3 of the sweet potato crop to Mickey and friends but still, there is plenty.


The badly chewed bits were divided between the chickens and the compost pile, while the rest is being canned. It' s long process of washing, parboiling, peeling, cubing, packing and then processing in the pressure canner for a ridiculous hour and 1/2. Fourteen quarts of the bright orange nuggets so far,with many more planned for the next few days.



Saints preserve me.


18 comments:

  1. Mmmm - never thought about CANNING yams. Can't they be cut up & frozen???? I eat mine mashed, baked & mashed or cubed into stews & soups so 'mushy' isn't a problem. But you need a cellar.
    My parents had a 'root cellar' in the burbs when we left the farm - cement room with screening over air vents & pallets on the floor in the north side of the basement that stayed just above freezing all winter & very cool in summer. Mom kept newspaper wrapped green tomatoes in there past Christmas & hung cherry tomatoes still on the vine to ripen slowly, Dad's big crock of pickles lived there as did the small crock with rum soaked Christmas cakes & sacks of spuds, onions, turnips, cabbages etc. We had 6 kids & they bought in bulk. I don't remember rodent problems, ever. Gawd how you provide trips down memory lane . . .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not sure about freezing them, this is my first go round with preserving sweet potatoes. We do have deep freezers but so much of our home grown meat goes in there. The old awful house on our property does have a root cellar but it is filled with debris. We do hope one day to clear it out, repair it and use it. It has nice concrete walls but some pretty wonky steps. All in good time, I hope.

      Delete
  2. I freeze Pumpkin, but I only use it for soups. Your crop looks pretty good to me, even if the rodents did get part of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the rodents could've taken 2/3 of it and we'll still be fine!

      Delete
  3. It's exciting to have a good harvest of anything, especially because it changes from year to year. Good job with the canning. They certainly are turning out well. The thing I like about canning is that things keep the longest and without electricity.

    We have a similar goal in terms of lifestyle. How close (or far) we are from it is in the forefront these days since Dan doesn't have a job. Funny, the false sense of security that money gives. It does have it's uses, but a full pantry is what really makes me feel wealthy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I often think Leigh, it would've been much easier to have started this lifestyle at age 17 instead of waiting until I was in my 50's. I had been a big follower of Scott and Helen Nearing (Living the Good Life) but had no mentors at the time. Then again, it's the crazy corporate life I had for so long that led me to where I am today...really broke and much happier.

      Delete
  4. How do you like to cook sweet potatoes after they've been canned? I love them but have only ever roasted them of made fries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We use pure maple syrup a friend of ours makes nearby. So they are fairy cooked already out of the can, I heat them, drain the water, add milk, butter and the maple syrup. It is to die for.

      Delete
  5. I'm always impressed by the canning that's done by American women - jars and jars of canned peaches and veg etc. We don't tend to do it over here, or at least it's rare. I freeze some things such as raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb etc and I make jams and jellies but that's it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it's actually a dying skill here Lorna. None of my family (I have three sisters and a grown daughter) can as sadly it is much cheaper to buy bad food at the grocery. Canning supplies are not cheap but all the jars are of course reusable. For us, the work involved is worth it for both the taste and the health benefits. BUT, when I worked full time as an RN, there was nada canning going on. :)

      Delete
  6. Do you have trouble with the mice getting into the compost pile? I think the people who owned my house before me composted. I don't because the rats are terrible here.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have our compost pile only 20 feet or so from our grain bin house and no, no mice problem there as the pile is out in the open where our free range chickens (half are free range, half now in chicken coop) can pick through and catch bugs and mice. We also have four cats on the farm. The only reason mice got in the sweet potatoes was because we made it easy for them by using the plastic mulch. We are always learning what NOT to do here!

      Delete
  7. Can you barter some of that bounty for something else you need? I'd sure give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am totally up for that. I need new underwear. Any takers?

      Delete
  8. I KNOW that canning is a good way to preserve food. Freezers take elec and that can go off. Drying is good for fruits, but I've yet to really enjoy benefits of dried veg. But for the lifa me I cannot get myself to believe that I won't kill myself with bad canning. I'm intelligent. I'm smart. I'm thrifty. How can I NOT be canning all this goodness!! Wah* LOVE sweet potatoes and applaud your canning them. Enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Interesting. I've never thought of canning sweet potatoes. We store them in the basement and they're a significant part of our winter meals. Luckily we haven't had problems with mice but thanks to your post I'm going to pay close attention to that now.

    We lived under the poverty line for several years and got by just fine, thanks to having no debt, already owning the things we needed and growing our own food. Property taxes and health insurance were the biggest problems by far--especially health insurance. Now my wife has a regular job working from home. She loves the job and the income from it (which we would have considered meager back when in our old life) is more than enough for us. Best wishes on your journey!

    Your reply to Leigh really resonates with me. I've often thought that I wish I'd started this lifestyle when I was younger (and had a stronger back!). But as you say, it was the other lifestyle that led us here and made me understand what it means to live authentically, so realistically I couldn't have one without the other.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Those jars of sweet potato look very pretty and quite delicious, if you are looking for more canning inspiration you could take a look at a blog called " Our Aussie off grid heaven " there are lots of older posts about all manner of food that has been preserved.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorites. When we had a garden in VA we never tried growing them, but butternut squash was a good substitute for me.

    ReplyDelete