The Art of Preserving

Finding time to make a homemade dinner can be challenging. Even though it’s just my husband and I, between our work at the farm and caring for our own home and yard — not to mention our dogs and poultry ๐Ÿ™‚ — things just get busy.

When I’m feeling frazzled, sometimes I think back to the era where you not only had to cook your food, but you had to grow it and preserve it all too.

I can’t imagine the amount of labor it took to butcher and cure or smoke all your own meat, plus can and store enough produce to feed your family over a long Minnesota winter. I have heard a few of the stories of the pioneer women in my own family, and I can’t help but be in awe.

Another link to cooking of the past that I cherish is the centennial cookbook of my home church. It’s only about 30 years old, but it has many generations worth of recipes. Several of my Great-Grandma Clara’s recipes even made it in, I suppose submitted by my Grandma.

The cookbook contains the secrets of making the best hotdish, pickled beets, and Norwegian delicacies, among other things. It’s also filled with classics like “good cookies” and “good muffins” where the only directions are phrases such as “mix as per usual and bake until done.”

Sometimes I turn to Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart, or google if I need recipe inspiration, but none of them quite contain the comforts of my “Vaer saa god.”

Anyway, now that it’s fall we’re working on some of our own small scale preserving. Mountains of tomatoes and peppers meant salsa was in order.

My husband is even less inclined to follow recipes than me, so we simply skipped the cookbooks and dumped clean veggies into the food processor. We started things simmering in a big pot with vinegar and a few spices.

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The result is a spicy, slightly sweet creation that should have us thinking back to late summer, even if it’s the middle of January.

I also froze about 10 quart bags of tomatoes, and I know there will be more to go.

Another vegetable that’s nearing maturity is our cabbage. I don’t know if we will get to making sauerkraut or not, as pretty soon we will spend a few weeks — virtually all waking hours — chopping corn silage for the cows. Running the farm and making silage leaves time for little else, but maybe the cabbage can wait a few weeks. Otherwise we’ll be eating a lot of coleslaw. Or something.

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The other thing we’re getting ready for winter is wood for our stove. There’s always lots of branches and sometimes down trees to clear up on a farm. The challenge is finding time to get the wood loaded, cut, and split.

We only burn wood as a supplemental heat source, so this trailer should last us all winter.

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Now I’m curious to know, what are you busy doing to prepare for fall and winter?

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
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6 Responses to The Art of Preserving

  1. MNGobbleGal says:

    Fun post, as always! I am always struggling with those “homemade meals” on weekdays, especially – there never seems to be enough time in the day. But I try! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m curious – how do you freeze your tomatoes? Whole? I’ve never done that (and I don’t have a lot of tomatoes, mind you) but would love to hear what you do.

    • Lisa says:

      Yup, I do freeze the tomatoes whole. I just wash, cut out the core and any bad spots, and then bag and freeze. If they are really large I sometimes halve them. I use them in things like hotdish, chili, burrito or fajita meat. Some people prefer to slip the skins off (once they are thawed the skins come off easily) but I usually just leave them.

      I’m always inspired by your garden posts. ๐Ÿ™‚ My garden looks weedy & haphazard compared to your photos.

  2. Jena says:

    I’m always amazed by people that have their own gardens.

    I can’t think about Fall, it’s still scorching hot, and there is really nothing to do to prepare. I don’t pack away my winter clothes, I don’t have enough clothes to pack away.

  3. Kathy says:

    I drink pumpkin spice lattes and light scented candles. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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