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Preserving the Harvest – Canning!

As the winter nears, we start to prepare ourselves and all that we steward for the change. This season marks a great shift in our interaction with the trees and the “outside” world. After we harvest our bounty, how do we spread and share it across the winter months? How do we care for ourselves, our trees, and our communities through the cold and quiet?

In our last Orchard Steward’s session, we explored the many ways we can preserve the harvest, and how the harvest can be transformed. Caiti Sullivan of Three Story Homestead facilitated an apple sauce canning demonstration with the stewards. With crisp and pinkish gala apples, we made an applesauce on the stove of the hilltop house. We quickly learned that the apples needed no sugar or lemon juice to enhance the flavor. After the apples were soft and warm, we began to distribute them across sanitized 8oz ball jars. We quickly twisted the lids upon the jars, and submerged them in boiling water for 20 minutes. After returning from their hot bath, we waited for the hot apple sauce to slowly cool, which acts as a vacuum to seal the jar. We eagerly awaited the popping, slurping sound.

Throughout the demonstration, we discussed the many ways we can preserve and extend the harvest. From canning, to lacto-fermentation, to freezing, to drying – and how each form creates such beautiful, different results. Much like the life teeming and rejuvenating itself under the cover of winter, so too is the applesauce under the jar lid. It was a special experience to share with the stewards–at least for me, it created an acceptance and calm for the cold ahead, and excited to try out some new preservation ideas. A concern I often encounter with gardening and orchard-ing is what to do with all the extra. They are resources: preserve, share, and create.

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