I'm relishing (no pun intended) my times late into the night and in the wee hours of the morning pickling, canning, preserving, freezing and fermenting. Any 2-4 hours I can grab to put up our harvest is taken opportunity of. Those late nights and early mornings offer me surefire times where I can work in undisturbed quiet.
Our garden harvest isn't magnificent, like those in Amish novels, where canning is an August through October marathon and shelves bow under the weight of a thousand filled mason jars. But, it is a welcomed abundance. To feed our family through a winter, I would need a garden at the very least twice as large. Regardless, every little bit is welcomed and produce donations from family and neighbor gardeners as well as inexpensive roadside purchases helps fills our shelves and gives us a taste of that sense of security and accomplishment our foreparents felt.
While I've frozen foods and water bath canned for decades now, pressure canning is a more recent feat, having started doing it only 5 or 6 years ago. This year, though, my newest venture is fermenting. The local produce stand cradled large, tight heads of beautiful green cabbages for a mere $2.00 each. I grabbed a jolly one, brought it home, pulled out Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Reader's Digest Back to Basics, and sliced into that thick head. After hours of sitting and pounding, I finally got enough juices out of that cabbage to weight it, cover it and set it on my dinging room hutch. My kitchen gets too hot and cluttered to keep it still and safe. As a result, the occasional waft of fermentation reaches our noses. From a distance, it can be as stinky as a distant dirty diaper or rotting mouse carcass, but venture close to the bowl, place nose to towel and sniff and it is delicious sauerkraut, no doubt about it. Here's hoping it stays that way and fermentation completes without spoilage.