What the March Root Cellar Holds


I suppose you might have thought me lazy when I first started canning for I really didn’t want to go through the whole trouble of water boiling the jars to seal the jars.  I just figured that if the top popped I was good to go, so any form of heat would probably be good.  Window sills seemed reasonable. Luckily, I was in the beginning stages of canning and really limited to pickles.  I filed them into their jar, filled half way with vinegar, half way with water (just like I do now), a sprig of dill, a teaspoon of salt, and some mustard seeds, celery seeds, and cayenne.  Then in the window they went!  We enjoyed them greatly.  I wasn’t making the amount I make now so they were gone in a matter of weeks.  Same with tomatoes in their tablespoon of lemon juice and teaspoon of salt.  We thankfully ate them quickly.  I got really brave one year and made salsa.  With corn.  I asked a friend at the farmer’s market, who I knew canned, about what I might have done wrong.  She looked a bit horrified at me as I revealed how I canned.  And the yummy tomatoes and corn and spices I have sitting in the window.  They were ticking….oddly enough.  Literally, ticking like a time bomb.  She said hoarsely, “Get rid of it!”  I did.  I ran with the ticking thing to the trash and threw it in and said a prayer for the trash man!  I hoped it wouldn’t blow up until it got far away.

I can immodestly say now that I have perfected canning, the real canning, with a little sheepish horror in reminiscence for how I started!  So, last year I decided to can over three hundred items.  It was a homesteading goal.  Just to see if I could do it.  And I did.  I am doing a root cellar tally.  I did not really think about all I was canning, just that I needed to can.  So whatever Miller Farms had extra was in my kitchen.  So here’s how it looks come Spring time.

Peas were the earliest to be canned and promptly eaten…sadly.  So delicious.  The frozen not quite satisfying my craving.  It seemed like I had tons of peas, but had only four jars by the end of shelling.

I have one can of corn left.  Not bad, but not enough.  Corn won’t be here until July so I should can more corn this year.

Apparently we ain’t big on beets.  We like them alright but somehow I still have at least twenty quarts left plus all the pickled beets.  It is very beautiful in the root cellar with all the ruby colored jars.  Perhaps less this year?

Ditto with zucchini.  Seemed like a brilliant idea.  Lot of zucchini and zucchini and tomatoes to put into soups and minestrone.  I guess we didn’t feel much like minestrone and soup this year.

The green beans are half gone.  I like them better canned than fresh I think.  How weird.  Perhaps because my memory growing up is of canned vegetables so they taste like when I was a kid.  Only organic and home-canned.  Still put butter and salt on top.

The fruit cocktail didn’t last too long.  The apples did.  Apparently I did not bake as many apple pies as previously expected (I baked one).  However, we do not get more apples until this fall so there is time for apple crisps and cabbage and apples.  The cherries are holding out alright.

Tomato sauce is gone.  It is a staple.  I have eight jars of spaghetti sauce but those won’t stick around.  I am swimming in ketchup, barbecue sauce, chutney.  These should last until fall though when it is time to do it again.

No matter how many jars of diced tomatoes I put up every year, it is not enough.  I am down to one.

We ate pickles like they were going out of style last year.  I ran clean out, so I doubled my numbers.  They haven’t been touched.  Oh, if we could only predict cravings!  Too bad Emily didn’t crave pickles!

The dried beans are holding out.  I am almost out of honey.  I have plenty of wheat.  I have an entire bucket of beets in sand.  Really?  More beets?!

The carrots that I packed in damp sand last fall?  Awesome.  Crisp, delicious, perfect.

The potatoes?  Well, you read that story.  If I hadn’t escorted them to the compost bin, they may have climbed straight out the window.

I have one less squash than when I started.  Huh.  I should have canned it.  During the winter, I don’t feel like canning.  It feels too out of season.  Too comfortable in the house or something.  It must be at the peak of temperatures and misery.  I will can in the fall.  More of this, a whole lot less of that!


22 Comments Add yours

  1. Am I reading this correctly-this pic is your root cellar? It’s a thing of beauty! We’re looking forward to canning this year for the first time. Here’s hoping we don’t try to off our garbage man with good efforts gone wrong!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Ha! No ma’am. My root cellar is dusty, dark, and dank. Not great lighting so can’t get a good picture. One day it will look like this one. The second picture is indeed my cat and three jars of my apple sauce though!

      1. Well those apple sauce jars and the cats are pretty cute too!

  2. Jane Schneider says:

    That is indeed a beautiful root cellar! As An FYI, cauliflower is something best not canned; it looks like pickled brains. Ugh. I can agree with you on the zucchini, I like it best fresh, sliced thin and sauteed with onion and breadcrumbs.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Good for Halloween it sounds. yuck! Cauliflower tastes pretty good frozen thankfully!

  3. aumcchildren says:

    The good thing about canning is it lasts years..so no love of apples this year..dont worry there is next winter for pies! BTW I never have enough tomatoes either!..its like they disappear over winter no matter how many you do.

  4. Abbi says:

    Funny to hear about your first methods of canning. I am glad you never got sick! It is always interesting to look in on your stores at this time of year and see how things are holding out. I just discovered that we are all out of broccoli (which we froze) and the zucchini is almost gone too (I really worked to make sure that happened!) but I still have plenty of green beans, corn and apple sauce. My apple pie filling went faster than I figured. There are still plenty of pickles. How fun it is to stock up yummy and wholesome food!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      It is so satisfying, isn’t it? Today we used the last jar of corn and it was sooo good. Must can more this year! We ran out of broccoli too. 😦 A new year of canning ahead of us!

  5. kayann short says:

    Tonight we’re having stuffed peppers with last fall’s pepper shells that I froze. No need to thaw them–just stuff, bake, and eat! Thanks for sharing your canning story–and the delights of your root cellar!

    1. Farmgirl says:

      I’ll be doing the same this week! Nothing like summer food in the winter…or spring!

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