Sunday, July 24, 2016

Self Preservation

The University of Maryland Extension has me doing a lot these days. The little commitments you make to get into these volunteer roles turn out to require big allotments of time when you count all the self-directed projects and tasks that come from knowing how to do something. Even the free classes, given under the banner of "Garden Smarter," can alter your lifestyle by launching you into home-based activities you may have never undertaken otherwise.

In my case, it was the Garden Smarter series that acquainted me with the Master Gardener program and also taught me how to safely can produce. Prior to taking the free class on Home Food Preservation by our local extension educator, I was on pretty shaky ground with canning (though I still managed to win a blue ribbon in the Calvert County Fair for bread and butter pickles). Now, in our second year of canning per the Ball Blue Book (available at many hardware and farm goods stores), we are becoming somewhat proficient, having already canned homemade barbecue sauce, ketchup, tomato paste, and taco sauce using our bounty of biochar-farmed tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Even with all the canning, I've been picking more than enough to sell 15 lbs of heirloom tomatoes per week to a local restaurant. Our green beans are doing so well this year that, just to keep up with the harvest, we are freezing instead of canning them.

When you put so much work into growing your own food, you darn sure aren't going to let it go to waste. The reward comes when you get to savor all the real food flavor that the corn syrup laden commercial versions leave out. There is also the assurance that you are getting more nutrition and avoiding harmful chemicals with each mouthful. If you need convincing, I would encourage you to try home canned items bought from a farm stand, made yourself, or here at our place. We have a good year of eatin' to look forward to.

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