Can I? I Hope I Can

When I pulled the last quart of butternut squash marinara sauce out of the freezer this morning, I panicked just a little. Here it is August and I haven’t canned or frozen a single thing to get us through the winter. Oh, sure, I made blackberry jam when the vines were overproducing, but that doesn’t count! Man cannot live on blackberry jam alone – and especially not a guy like Ken, who at 6’8” has a justifiably huge appetite.

Last year, I canned or froze 257 quarts of produce. Of that, 145 quarts were soup or marinara sauce. As of tonight, they will all be gone. Yep. That man can eat a lot of soup and pasta.

I’ve been canning since I was a little girl helping Mom make applesauce. Applesauce was what I taught my three girls to make as well, with occasional forays into pickles and plum sauce. (Okay, admittedly I got into making plum sauce because my plum jam didn’t set, but it turned out to be a wonderful ingredient in many recipes!) Most years, the girls and I would put up 40 quarts or so of applesauce, giving half of them away as gifts.

Eventually, the girls moved on to their own lives and canning wasn't nearly as much fun. Then Ken moved in. Not only did he turn my little half acre in Sacramento into a verdant cornucopia, but he also about quadrupled my grocery bill. Luckily, I discovered that he would eat everything he grew that I could turn into soup: tomato soup, celery soup, potato soup, squash soup. In addition, he loves my canned applesauce, peaches and vanilla poached plums. Canning became my summer ritual.

Once we moved to our five acres in Wilton, Ken stepped up production even before we were ready to start the produce stand. So to cope with the oversupply, I added tomato sauce, butternut squash marinara sauce and salsa verde to my canning/freezing portfolio.

Despite the successful launch of the produce stand this year, he’s still growing more than we can sell. The difference now is that I don’t have time to take up the slack in the kitchen. Overripe produce goes into the compost pile or sits in the field, instant organic mulch. Much to my dismay, Ken is opening cans of Campbell’s for lunch.

But as the butternut squash marinara sauce thaws for dinner tonight, I suddenly know I can’t go back to store-bought sauces. This tastes too good, not because I’m some great chef – I’m not – but because the ingredients are so fresh and the additives are non-existent.

So I’m going to dig out my canning pot and carve out time to cook. I won’t fill the freezer this year, but at least we’ll have something to remind us in the dead of winter how grand summer tastes when you farm your own food.

Care to join me in a "saucy" adventure? Check out the Recipe tab where I’ve just added two butternut squash recipes (at top of Recipe page) that are guaranteed winners!


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