Occasionally, I regret having wasted my youth by not learning how to do the kinds of self-sufficiency tasks I'm learning these days. It's not so much that I regret having wasted all of that precious time, but more the fact that I had the perfect teacher. My grandmother could have taught me all sorts of low-energy canning techniques. She could have taught me how to harvest my chickens so that I could save $4 per bird (in fact, she's probably watching me now from that place beyond and shaking her head in dismay that I don't do it myself). But more, if I had learned it back then, when I was young, immortal and fearless, then it wouldn't be so daunting now.
Of course, the fact that something is difficult does not, in the least, deter me, and I love summer canning season, and I love marathon canning sessions.
This evening, we canned the sauerkraut that has been fermenting on the counter for the past week (about three days longer than it should have, actually ;). In addition, we canned about three-quarters of the 14 lbs of peaches I brought home from the farm stand ... the girls ate (or have saved for tomorrow) the rest ;).
We ended up with six pints of purple sauerkraut and the equivalent of four quarts of peaches.
Then, since we were cutting up peaches (and making a big mess of the kitchen floor with dripping peach juice and poorly aimed peach peels and pits that didn't quite make it to the bucket ... after I just scrubbed it this afternoon, no less), we decided to process most of the melons I brought home, too (at $2 to $4 each, I had to buy several more). We ended up with six quarts of melon puree in the freezer with one cantaloupe and one musk melon still waiting to be eaten fresh.
This is an amazing time of year and just looking around at all of the bounty - in my garden, at the farm stand, at the Farmer's Market, I feel full. It's an amazing time of year.
There is so much food! It's incredible, and I love watching my freezer fill up and the pantry shelves where I keep my home canned food getting full.
Unfortunately, I still do not have a very good handle on what would be enough food to do us for the whole winter. I know when I don't have enough (like four quart jars of applesauce ... definitely *not* enough!), but trying to figure out, exactly how much would see us through the winter is a little more difficult ... and as for testing ourselves and eating only from our pantry just to get an idea of what we eat ...? The idea of depleting our food stores just to test ourselves, when we never know if this trip to the grocery store will be our last and that we will be forced to depend on what's in our pantry is just terrifying.
Still, in a lower energy world, we would not have the grocery store as a back-up - at least not like we have it, today. At some point we really need to figure out exactly what we use, and then plan accordingly, because it would be a pretty horrible thing to suddenly have to depend on our stored food only to realize that we severely underestimated our usage.
Hmm? I wonder, in a lower energy world, can I give my daughters ration cards? Can I steal their chocolate rations?