HAMBURG — Now that it is September, my thoughts turn to autumn and all the bounty of harvest time. I’m sure there are people canning and making jelly from all the wonderful fruits and vegetables. I am not one of those people.
I will occasionally make some freezer jam or a random jar of refrigerator pickles. There has never been a time when I canned or processed anything. One year, when a neighbor gave me a bushel of tomatoes, I almost learned to can. I might have, except he told me that he always froze the tomatoes whole, like billiard balls, and used them in soups and stews, all winter.
Because my basic nature is lazy, that is what I did. I filled freezer bag after freezer bag with big, round tomatoes. He was right. They did resemble frozen billiard balls. But it was easy, and I floated them in homemade soups all winter, with great success.
This year, in a fit of domesticity, I decided to make my own herbal teas for winter. I have an enormous herb patch filled with many varieties of mint and other fragrant plants. I like herbal tea, but at around $4 for a box of 16 tea bags, I can see the wisdom of making my own.
I bought a dehydrator and I’ve been drying herbs like a crazy woman. I now have seven quart jars filled with dried peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon balm and lavender. The dehydrator cost me $60, so I should use it as much as possible, to actually save any money on herbal tea; I am going to need a lot more jars.
In my backyard, I also have an apple tree that is finally having a bumper crop, after almost 30 years of sporadic, worm-ridden, table tennis ball-sized sized apples. I’m absolutely going to have to do something about these bona fide, honest-to-goodness apples. It may be another 30 years before it happens again.
I made an apple pie today and then dried some in my dehydrator. Nine apples down and 1,000 to go. I wonder if I can freeze them like I did the tomatoes. Something tells me this might be a bad idea.
Last year, around this time, I also bought a giant kohlrabi from Winter’s Farms at the farmer’s market. It had to be 10 pounds and was bigger than a basketball. I got 10 meals from that kohlrabi and to think, before I bought it, I didn’t even know what that alien-looking vegetable was.
This fall, I noticed that the store has more behemoth kohlrabi. I just might buy one. At least I now know what it is. Maybe I’ll freeze some of that, too.
I try. I really do. Harvest time inspires me to jump on the bandwagon and preserve the bounty, much like a squirrel is inspired to fill a hollow tree with acorns.
In fact, with a little imagination, my freezer seems a lot like a hollow tree. I keep putting stuff in there for winter, just like a squirrel. Come to think about it, squirrels don’t know how to can or make jelly either and they get through the winter just fine.