Monday, September 21, 2009

Harvest Season is coming to an end

Harvest season is coming to end at my home this year. I still might get some apples to can and dehydrate....not sure. I've spent the last few days canning green beans, carrots and Veggie soup. I also did some dehydrating and freezing. I'll post photos of my canning in a couple days.

Some of you might wonder why I do so much canning. Both Rich and I grew up in families here in Southwestern Oregon that depended on the timber industy for their income. We both had stay at home Moms.

My family always had a big garden. We would preserve all we could for winter food. Dad worked in lumber and plywood mills that would often close in the winter for weeks. Then all we would have was unemployment checks that went for payments. So we would rely on the foods that Mom had preserved and the other food that she would stockpile during the summer. Dad usually had a hog growing for butchering every other year. We had chickens to provide eggs and meat. We would go to local farms and buy corn, pears, apricots, and apples. We would go out into the onion fields after harvesting was done and pick leftover onions. We picked wild blackberries and made jelly and froze berries for pies. To us, this was everyday life.

Rich's family didn't have a garden. His parents would stockpile their groceries during the summer months for winter. Rich's Mom would can some fruits. They would purchase beef from Rich's Uncle Everett and fill the freezer.

So, you see both Rich and I grew up in families that prepared for winter and emergencies. So, it is only natural that we do the same thing.

Health issues are another reason that we like having our own canned fruits and veggies. Rich and I both have to watch our sugar and salt intake. It is amazing how much sugar and salt are in commercially canned fruits and veggies. It is unbelievable.

What really brought the issue of salt in canned foods to my attention happened a few years ago. My Mother was prone to strokes. My niece, Sarah called me one night and told me that they had just called the ambulance for my Mother....they thought she was having another stroke. The paramedics came and when they checked her blood pressure it was 315/185. They immediately transported her to the hospital. They were able to get her blood pressure down and sent her home the next morning. I found out later what had brought on the attack.......she had ate a can of chili and saltine crackers for dinner. After that I started seeing how much sodium was in processed foods and it was a real eye opener.

The same thing goes with sugar. When I can my fruits I add about 1/2 cup sugar to 1 1/2 gallons of water for my syrup. That amount of sugar brings out the natural sugars in the fruits. When I can my veggies I add a dash of salt to each jar. That amount of salt brings out the natural salt in the veggies.

Another thing that I try to avoid is my foods is MSG. We found that if Rich eats foods laden with MSG he gets severe headaches. So, I've been cutting way back on any convenient foods. There are other preservatives that are just as bad. I also have to watch for almonds in everything. Almonds trigger Rich's asthma. I made Cherry Ice Cream several years ago and added almond extract to it. Rich took a couple of bites and had a severe asthma attack.......we was at my parent's place about 40 miles from the nearest hospital. I thought for sure we was going to have to rush him to the hospital. He used his inhaler several times and finally started breathing a little easier. Not too long after that he some cereal that had almonds in it and the same thing happened. So now we avoid almonds in his foods.

Now it is time to do some fall cleaning both inside and out and get ready for winter.

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