"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

self-sufficiency, one pint jar at a time

This past New Year's one of my resolutions (let's not go into all of them....no, no gym membership yet) was to eat more locally. Specifically, I wanted to source 50% of the food we eat at home from within the county. Obviously, we aren't getting local bananas or oranges, or rice, or even wheat. But I can get local - extremely local, within 10 miles local - milk, cheese, seafood, and meat, and of course my family's pork is local to within yards. I haven't bought an egg in six months, at least, and I haven't bought milk or yogurt in a month. I expected to be able to obtain most of our non-tropical produce locally, and to do a lot of preserving. Getting over my fear of canning is high on my to-do list. By the end of summer, I want to have a closet full of canned goods and a freezer full of frozen ones, all local and delicious.

So, when I saw a post on Craigslist the other day (craigslist is my little problem, I check the farm and garden section at least six times a day) and saw that a local lady was selling as much rhubarb as you can stuff into a five gallon bucket for $12. Must have overdone it a little on the rhubarb a few years back. I love rhubarb, and always buy some as soon as it is available in the spring, but it's crazy expensive this year, about $3.50 a pound, which works out to more than a buck a stalk. That's just silly. You'd need to spend $10 to make a pie. So of course I grabbed a bucket and hopped in the car.

Turns out, an awful lot of rhubarb can be stuffed into a five gallon bucket. More than you probably think. I had to buy a whole new set of jelly jars and call my sister. We made 26 cups of rhubarb sauce, not counting what we ate along the way and fed to the children, stirred into yogurt. After we'd canned half of it, we added lime zest and grated ginger to the rest and made lime-ginger-rhubarb sauce. I think many of my relatives can expect a pretty pink surprise in their christmas stocking!

Then, since we didn't have enough red stains on our clothing yet, we decided to take the kids to a U-pick strawberry farm nearby. I never would have guessed that three inexperienced adults and four children under the age of five can pick over 30 pounds of strawberries in under an hour. I'm currently taking a break from processing fresh strawberries for freezing. My children are bright red to the elbows and ears and have stomped at least six strawberries into the carpet. But I'm happy; I'm keeping my resolution. I will have strawberries in November.