The Joy of Putting Up

Monday, August 1, 2011
No, not the joy of putting out. . .That would take us in a completely different direction. A direction I dare say Of Woods and Words has never been before.

Nope, today is much more Laura Ingalls Wilder than it is Carrie Bradshaw. Honestly, I've always been more Laura than Carrie, although I did spend many of my young adult years assuming my future held many a cosmopolitan and several pairs of expensive heels. While not exactly how things ended up, I'm also happy to report that my future (thus far) has not contained a single covered wagon. So that's a relief.

Ever since reading Little House in the Big Woods, I've been fascinated with the idea of self-sufficiency. Through the years, that fascination has taken me down many a twisted path. Thankfully, my long suffering mother patiently let me use up her entire stash of yarn for my knitting attempts, didn't fuss too much when my attempt to dry juneberries in the oven resulted in cookie pans that are still scarred, let me use her canner to make some not so great chokecherry jelly and apple butter. She didn't say a word when I decided to use the garden's red clay to make "bowls."

Now that I'm all grown up, my self-sufficiency attempts are a little less haphazard. And now that I have a garden of my own, my putting up habits have to become a little more focused. Letting any bit of that fresh produce that we've been working to cultivate since late March go to waste would just be a waste. (Yep, pretty swift this morning, eh?) At the very time the blueberries are peaking, I also have zucchinis coming out of my ears and the grocery produce (cherries, stone fruit, etc.) is at its most luscious. I'm trying my best to get it all "put up" for the winter months.

Here are the fruits of my labors so far: a batch blueberry jam, a batch of blueberry raspberry jam, a batch of blueberry vinegar, and a jar of cherry bounce. I also dried a quart of blueberries last night to be used in granola throughout the year.

Last weekend, I finally developed a salsa recipe that's to both of our liking and I'll put that recipe to good use if I can save our tomatoes from the blasted bottom blossom rot. Don't rot on me now little tomatoes!

There are also currently four massive zucchini/summer squash in the fridge that must be dealt with. I think I'll trying dehydrating a couple and will probably make a double batch of zucchini muffins for the freezer.

It all seems very old fashioned, but there's a joy in taking what you gathered and grew and transforming it into something that will feed you for months to come. I love seeing the jars lining up on the shelf, the bags stuffed with frozen blueberries and other foods stacking up in the chest freezer. It makes the sunburned neck and scrapped up shins well worth it.


  1. while i don't get the joys of a garden, i do attempt to stock up from farmer's markets for this very purpose. i love to can. it feels good... and feeding my family from a jar of our own canned goodness just feels a lot better than opening a can of some factories...
    which implies i buy canned food. Which i do not.

    At any rate, though i would be a prime candidate for a Manhattan apartment, an illustrious NYC writing career and that intimate circle of friends- i simply can't imagine canning in a tiny NYC apartment... or sharing jars of my labors with urban city folk...

  2. I love putting up too! Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley are my girls. Love them! This weekend I was gifted 85 vintage canning jars and one box of jelly jars that had never been opened. They're the round ones with grapes and cherries on the side and super adorable lids. I can't wait to use them for something delicious!

  3. How do you find time for everything you do! Glad the garden is supplying you with such a lucious supply of foods, looks like you've found a great way to use the goods! The salsa sounds yummy :)

  4. That is awesome. While I'll probably never live out in the woods, I certainly want to do as much as I can (when the time comes) to live efficiently and more cost-effectively. It's very hard in our country to do that, I think. We're so used to buying more than what we need and throwing out the excess. I think that we as humans all have a responsibility to use only what we need and to not be wasteful - to take care of each other and the land so that our kids can maybe enjoy it too.

    You are such an inspiration for me to keep that little dream going. :)

  5. boy, i wish i could aquire food en masse in order to can it. when i first moved to LA, my friends and i were CONVINCED there was going to be some sort of apocalyptic downfall of society, so we joked about "apocalypse training." now, i'm fairly certain i just have to prep for the inevitable catastrophic earth quake. time to start storing food.

  6. I wish my patio would be bigger and produce more. I bought many at the farmers market to freeze. I keep canning and jamming! Have to check what stone fruit is though. Can relate so much to the feeling of contentment and accomplishment. Have a wonderful week!

  7. One of my strongest Laura Ingalls Wilder memories is when they make candy out of maple syrup and snow- It was the first time I remember thinking, "hey, I could live out in the woods... "
    In retrospect, I should have known I'd never make it :)

  8. Ada, I'm enjoying following your adventures in "putting-up" and more inspired than ever to finally make the commitment and buy a real canning pot! Off to check out your Cherry Bounce...


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