Preserving the Harvest: 2018 Edition

This was the first year for our new vegetable garden.  The results were a bit uneven–tomatoes and leeks did great, beans and beets did not.  The weather may be partly to blame as the spring was unseasonably cool and quite wet.  Between what I was able to grow myself and what I was able to purchase from Clark Farms and Brooksby Farms we managed to put up more food this fall than we have in previous years.

About one half of the produce grown in the United States is thrown away; food is cheap and people only want to buy produce that is pretty.  This wastefulness is a boon to those who don’t mind a little bit of effort.  While my garden managed to produce perhaps 30 pounds of tomatoes, that would hardly be enough to get us through the winter.  Busy families such as ours need a healthy supply of tomato sauce on hand for quick dinners.  Yes, I know that one can buy tomato sauce pretty cheap, but I like tomato sauce to actually taste like tomatoes so I prefer to can my own fresh.  To augment what we grew ourselves, I bought an addition 50-60 pounds of “seconds” from Clark Farms and Brooksby Farms at just under a buck a pound.  I volunteer every Saturday morning at the Marblehead Farmer’s Market; at the end of market, Bill Clark from Clark Farms was happy to sell me (at a steep discount) all of the damaged or split tomatoes that nobody else wanted.  Sauce tomatoes don’t need to be pretty! Similarly, Brooksby sells off their tomato seconds (in 20 pound boxes) at the end of the season.  Not only do they offload their not quite so pretty tomatoes, they also sell peach seconds in the summer and apple seconds in the fall.  I skipped the peaches this year as I still have some left from last season, but did cash in on the tomatoes and apples.

This fall we put up:

15 half pints of corn relish (recipe below).

16 quarts tomato sauce.

10 pints dilly beans

10 pints pickled beets

6 pints pizza sauce

7 quarts apple sauce



The only thing left to make is my sauerkraut; I’ll wait until the weather is a bit cooler lest the fermentation go nuclear in my basement.

Now for a little taste of home:

Pennsylvania Dutch Corn Relish

Kernels from 12 ears of corn

2 medium red onions, diced

6 red bell peppers, diced (I had 4 large and 2 small ones)

3 green bell peppers, diced

4-5 ribs celery, diced


1.5 cups sugar

6 c. vinegar (white or cider or a combination)

1 Tbsp ground mustard

1 Tbsp brown mustard seed

1 ½ tsp yellow mustard seed


Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer for ½ hour or so.  Adjust sugar and mustard to taste.  Pack into clean pint or ½ pint jars and process in a water bath for 1/2 hour.  This batch made 16  one half pint jars plus a pint.

If you don’t have mustard seed you can substitute with more mustard powder.  Some versions of this recipe will also include a small head of cabbage, shredded.  I like it with cabbage (shred it finely like you would for kraut) but Hilary is not a fan so I left it out this time.  Most recipes also use almost twice as much sugar, but I think it makes it too sweet but, of course, make it to your taste.  I’ve wanted to try adding jalapeno peppers to it but haven’t done that yet.  After tasting this batch I think I will increase the mustard powder next year.

Corn relish is great by itself or on hotdogs and hamburgers

And as they say in Berks County, PA, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much.”


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