Wednesday, February 27, 2008


On the Winter chore list is taking stock of our homesteading activities by examining our efforts. Food for example. This category is further broken down into sub categories - cost, effective method of storage, and need vs. want.
Keeping a well stocked pantry is by far our most fugal method of saving both money and time. On average we spend about $100 per month for a family of 5. This includes eggs (organic from a fellow rural HT'er), raw milk $2.50 per gallon, paper products, personal care items, commercially caned foods like pineapple, sugar, honey, baking supplies, grains, peanut butter & meats. By putting up our food both grown & commercial when it is the cheapest we can get up to a 300% return on the dollar. Coffee & sugar are two examples. Bonus is few last minute unplanned grocery trips usually during a snowstorm (priceless).
Tip - each month buy a grocery store gift card $25 or less to be used for discounted & loss leader specials only. Easy way to budget funds. Keep card in with coupons and calculator.
Second most valuable aspect is that making food preservation a family affair teaches values such as charity, teamwork, thriftiness and skills such as food preservation and living without money. No matter if my children grow up to be the next Bill Gates I know that if given a bucket of dirt, seeds, and canning supplies they will always be able to survive. Can you say Enron or negative outcome of NAFTA ? Or our nation's recent recall on Beef supplied for school lunches?
As you can see by late February this corner of our pantry is disorganized. All the best laid plans of farmer & caner have been put asunder by many hands looking for this jar or that.
Here's a quick run down of what is there among the many empty jars; applesauce, canned carrots, chili beans, cider, corn, dehydrated celery, eggplant, grape juice, jams - carrot cake, strawberry-rhubarb, red current, mulberry, pickles - b&b, dill, pie fillings-apple, peach, green tomato mince meat, salsa, spinach, tomatoes - stewed, and vinegar both apple & white. There is also a few jars left of squash butter a jam type spread good on cornbread. Total filled jars is 267.
Oh tucked in the back corner are about 6 pints of canned butter. My attempt at long term preservation of real butter bough as a loss leader ($1 per lbs.) Now waiting on a soap recipe.
So from organizing the shelves I have discovered that the squash butter should be canned in jelly jars & less of it. That we need @ least 40 quarts of chili beans along with an extra 20 quarts of stewed toms. That canned eggplant & spinach is the bomb in veggie lasagna so need is 10 quarts each for the year. On the subject of pickles despite what DH says he can't eat 6 pints of dills in a year.
That I should can up 2 quarts of Bread & Butter pickles for Church potluck in addition to 6 pints for home use.
Totally under estimated need of canned green beans, sweet corn, peaches, and dehydrated green bell peppers. Also need to find another type of juice to can.
Will also experiment with canning up jelly jars of fruit for packing in lunches. This would replace the expense & hassle of keeping fresh fruit in stock.
Now to work out the planting & acquiring (bartering/foraging/gleaning) list which preserving inventory is based on.
The only meat that we raise is rabbit which hasn't translated into a large percentage yet. Our meals generally run around 50% to 95% of self produced ingredients.
Fall/Winter menu -
S- Pot Roast & pie.
M- Chicken soup & baking powder biscuits.
T- Veggie lasagna (homemade ricotta, black olives, dehydrated mushrooms, onions, garlic, canned eggplant & spinach, & tossed salad).
W- Beef Veggie Soup, homemade rye bread or Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots & corn.
T- Puerto Rican Rice with chicken or Homemade Macaroni & Cheese with tossed salad.
F- Homemade Pizza, or Haddock Fish Fry.
S - Veggie Chili & rice, corn bread or German potato salad, sausage.
Alternate is always Spaghetti & tossed salad.
The shelves are those plastic ones that hold a thousand pounds easily wiped down with a bleach solution. The lines that are in a square pattern are nylon clothesline bought at the $ store. Since I have both young children & cats the homemade netting helps secure jars.
~~ pelenaka ~~
"As God is my witness I'll never go hungry again", Scarlett O'Hara.