Interestingly enough, May is the month of figuring out what we’re going to be eating over the next year. In all honestly, that’s quite late. I should’ve had it figured out in January, in time to place seed orders. But seeing that we don’t grow much beyond herbs and salad greens in our apartment, waiting until May is fine. That’s when the farmer’s markets open for the season, and we start thinking about making the bountiful goodness of the summer to come last until, well, the next summer. And it goes beyond vegetables. This year, I’m also thinking meats.
We’re moving this summer, and our must-have apartment wish list includes a few things that will make conscious eating a bit easier (at least in my mind). Our wish list includes space equal or greater to what we have now, immediate outdoor access (be it balcony, patio, yard, what-have-you), eat-in kitchen (with a gas stove!) or separate dining room, and big windows. Nice little extras would be a second bedroom, hardwood floors, claw-foot tub and a brick accent wall. But those last things are the icing on the cake, and really don’t have much to do with making conscious eating easier. But the former ones do. The equal or greater space requirement relates to the need to purchase a small chest freezer (we still haven’t gotten one due to current space constraints), and have pantry storage for canned goods. Any little spot of the outdoors I’m going to inundate with edibles – my dreams (even on a little 5×3 foot balcony) include a few tomato plants, a columnar apple tree, a half barrel of dwarf blueberries (the husband loves blueberries), strawberries in hanging baskets, lettuces in window boxes and anything else I can manage to fit in. Kitchen space (with the gas stove!) so I can put up copious amounts of produce this summer without feeling like I’m working in a hall closet, which is basically what cooking in our current (electric-stove-outfitted) kitchen is like. And don’t even get me started on the pitfalls of an electric stove. Big windows – filled with edible plants of course. I can see my strawberry pot of herbs multiplying like there’s no tomorrow…
So what’s on this year’s list for food preservation? It’s alarmingly ambitious, as always.
5 pints applesauce
5 pounds beef jerky
5 pounds bison jerky
10 quarts canned quartered tomatoes
10 quarts canned roasted quartered tomatoes
20 pints canned tomato paste
5 pounds dehydrated mushrooms (mostly button and morel)
5 quarts frozen blueberries
5 quarts frozen cherries
24 ears frozen corn on the cob
20 quarts of frozen edamame (we eat this like chips in our household)
5 quarts of frozen strawberries
10 pints frozen sweet peppers
2 quarts frozen persimmon puree
5 quarts frozen pumpkin puree
5 pints canned roasted garlic
5 pints rosemary garlic olive oil
The only thing that seems truly daunting to me is the tomato paste. The frozen stuff is easy – wash, blanch, toss in bags and freeze. The mushrooms and jerkies will be easy, just stick in the dehydrator. The roasted garlic and olive oil will be easy too. Even the applesauce and canned tomatoes will be simple. But I know that it takes about 35 pounds of tomatoes to make 10 quarts. So for the canned tomatoes, I’m looking at 70 pounds alone. That will be two weekends worth of work for me. And I know that it’s going to take a lot more tomatoes to cook down into 20 pints of paste. A lot more. So maybe I won’t quite get there on that one… but I’ll try. We eat a lot of Bolognese in this house, and you can’t have my Bolognese without tomato paste. So I will definitely try.
But I also mentioned meat. While I’m certainly not producing any of it myself (from scratch, in the barnyard) I hope to purchase it directly from the people who do.
2 20 pound turkeys (the Thanksgiving and Christmas birds)
1 side of pork (including the Thanksgiving ham, sausages and mostly ground)
¼ side of beef (in a few steaks, stew meat and mostly ground)
A bit of lamb – a crown roast (for Christmas), a few steaks and some stew meat
I think I might need a bigger freezer than what I first planned on… but ambition is a great thing. If I can’t achieve it all, that’s fine. But I will certainly try. It’s about doing a little bit when you can, because as everyone knows, the little stuff adds up. And that’s an approach I can live with.