A week from Saturday, I am doing a food preservation class for the Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association. I hope people show up. I have had a lot of interest but people are waiting until the last minute to sign up. Ten is a good number to work with. It is enough to get some good energy but not so many that anyone gets left out. I am going to be waiting until Saturday morning to decide what I will be preserving as I want to use produce from my garden. I know I will have beets to pickle, carrots to pressure can, blueberries to make into jam to water bath can and kale to dry. That will be enough although I am thinking about canning some chicken. I think people will be surprised at how easy it is and how handy to have canned meat at your fingertips. I am going to concentrate on the fundamentals of preservation; sanitation, produce selection, safety and organization. I want to show a lot of equipment and resources and get participants comfortable with the processes. I am toying with the idea showing off my new cold cellar but I don’t know about marching a bunch of strangers past my food storage. Everyone who knows me know I prepare but the reality of my basement is something else. I am thinking I will keep my house off limits.
The cold cellar looks great. Bruce and I are going to put in the ceiling and work on the ventilation today. We have to drop a vent pipe from the window to the floor to ensure a chilled air flow. Bruce is getting fancy on me. I had though we would just put the produce in baskets but he is building dedicated bins so nothing will be in layers. It will make keeping track of spoilage a lot easier. One bad apple will spoil the whole bunch.
It is certainly possible to prepare without preserving your own food but it would be a lot more expensive and nowhere near as much fun. I was thinking about my peppers. I use a lot of peppers. I had 12 plants that I started from seed. The seed cost $2.49. The potting soil was probably under a dollar for the amount I used. I reuse plastic pots every year. So for about $3.50 cents I have a year’s worth of organic peppers. I froze 2 gallons, one gallon of plain diced peppers and one gallon of a pepper/onion mix. I have another gallon of dried peppers and I still have another 20 or so peppers big enough to mature before a frost. I used a lot in the sauce I put up too. If I was to buy peppers as I needed them in January they would come from Chili and cost a fortune. If I bought organic one would cost as much as I spent on all I have preserved. The other reality is that I might not use an entire pepper in a meal and the rest could rot before we ate it. Bad household economy all around. I can hear the criticism on my numbers because I don’t include the energy costs of preservation or prorate the cost of equipment. I consider the energy cost to be negligible and as the equipment will be in use for decades I discount that as well. I hope my kids will use the equipment after I am gone.
My Phoebe have some minor surgery on an ingrown toenail yesterday. The bandage fell off in the night and I had to rebandage it this morning. I was so pleased to go to my first aid box and pull out the gauze, surgical tape and antibiotic ointment. I will bet that a lot of people would have to run to the pharmacy to get that king of thing. I did realize that I made a mistake. I removed tubes of ointments from their original boxes and didn’t note the expiration dates on the tubes. I will have to check the usual shelf life and figure out how long this stuff has been stored. There is no way to rotate this stuff in a planned way. Fortunately, this is a fairly inexpensive item to replace.