Summer Update and What’s to Come!

Well after abandoning my four faithful followers for a few months I have decided its time to get back on the bandwagon.  Thank you to those of you who have been checking back for my return to It Makes Cents to Me! Life has been so hectic and while I wouldn’t say its any easier now, things have slowed slightly. I also can’t pass up the opportunities about to be presented (summer canning and preserving) for material. Hopefully I can find the will and the energy, not to mention the brain power, needed to continue on.

As I said, life has been busy. Among other things, I put in a full-blown container garden that includes 8 tomato plants, 5 types of lettuce, 3 types of carrots, 5 types of potatoes, strawberries, zucchini , herbs and SO much more. With all the produce beginning to come in it’s looking to be a plentiful summer. We recently bought a freezer to store frozen summer produce, freezer jams, and a cow we’ll be purchasing (more on that later).

First up is jamming. I just bought some new 4 oz jars and freezer containers. I will be doing two types of jams. I’m doing strawberry freezer jam because, well, it’s amazing! And I may try a few others. Then I’ll also be doing no sugar added jams. I’m not sure which kinds yet but strawberry, peach, and blueberry are definitely on the list. I love these because they are lower in sugar since I am able to use Stevia and it ends up being more like a fruit puree that’s been preserved.  I love plopping a spoonful into cream of wheat or using them in homemade frosting. I’m also planning to attempt grape jelly. I’m not nervous and I expect that everything will go well but I have never done it before. I read a blog a few months ago though that pointed out how much more cost-effective it is to make grape jelly versus buying it. I’ll give you a rundown of the price comparison when the time comes.

Later this summer I also plan to blanch and freeze sweet corn, broccoli, cauliflower and sno peas. They are fairly cheap anyway so I’m not positive that I’ll actually save money but I like knowing where my food comes from. The food I’m growing in the garden this year isn’t entirely organic but it is for the most part. I was afraid to go completely organic since this is my first garden but all the pesticides I’m using are COMPLETELY organic so I know that our food will be much less ‘toxic’ than buying it at the store. I’ll also be freezing strawberries, blueberries and possibly even raspberries. Buying the frozen at Costco isn’t a bad deal, but the sales you can get on berries this time of year are amazing by comparison so I can’t pass up a chance to save extra money. Peaches are high on the list of things to make it into the freezer this year.  Some of you may wonder why I plan to can and freeze peaches but it’s because I love making peach cobbler and canned peaches get too soft when you bake them. And I couldn’t be more excited for corn! It’s soooo much better than canned or frozen corn from the store. By cutting the corn off the cob in the home freezing process you can save the cream and pack it into your container with your corn. If you’ve never tried freezing your own corn I highly recommend it.

Along with freezer preservation I’ll also be canning up a storm this year. It should be an interesting experience since we have a glass stove top in our new place (yuck!) and we have a VERY low microwave over the stove but I’ll make it work. I plan to can green beans, peaches, pears, apple sauce, whole tomatoes, red sauce, salsa, and I’m even planning on canning citrus this winter. The only thing that may not happen is the green beans. I know a pressure canner would be a godsend and that they are so versatile but we only have so much money and I’m not buying just any pressure canner. They are expensive!!! I know when I amortize the cost over the years of canning I’ll be doing it will be well worth the investment but I want a good pressure canner and that’s not going to be a cheap investment. I know I should just bite the bullet and get it over with but I’m still convincing myself it’s a priority. I only plan to do green beans in it this year but I know it would make canning other things easier as well. I’m conflicted, what can I say. I’m also slightly paranoid using a pressure canner which is probably a big part of my hesitation. I know they are pretty safe when used with common sense but I’ve heard some horror stories that have freaked me out a little.

Anyway, if you have a favorite canning section share it with all of us in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you! I hope you’re all having an awesome summer and are enjoying all its bounty!

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