25 September 2013

The summer of not canning

I have not been canning much this summer at all. I'm a little disappointed, but I think there were some important reasons why my shelves aren't groaning they way they usually are by the end of September.

A few factors:

  • The clean-out of the estate of my close friend's elderly aunt, who passed away in July. We've been back and forth to South Jersey most of the every-other-Saturdays when I don't have custody of my daughter. So essentially, half of my Saturdays have been claimed with this ongoing task.

  • The other Saturdays, when my daughter is with me, I like to have her spend time with her grandparents, at their home in the outer Philadelphia suburbs. So on most Saturdays this summer, either I've been hanging out in South Jersey, or I've been at my parents' house -- and my canning projects aren't exactly transportable.

  • I thought I would be canning up a storm with our CSA fruit share. But it turns out that our fruit share never measures up to a full canner load of fruit. Don't get me wrong: it's not skimpy, and we aren't being cheated. We get plenty of fruit for the week, and the peaches this year were glorious. But the fruit individually comes in small quantities: six pears plus a half-pint of kiwiberries one week, and five nectarines plus a watermelon the next. This is not cannable. This is lunchbox or picnic material, but it's not canner material, not on its own.

    So four take-aways. One, we're looking into doing a double fruit share next summer. It'll still be very small-batch canning, which I think is more hobbyist than money-saving, but will still scratch my itch for putting jam on my shelves. Two, this is going to be a strange winter. I didn't do rhubarb, strawberry, or blueberry jam (not counting the syrupy mis-step at the end of June) -- I always get at least one of those, my holy trinity, in by the end of July. I didn't do my Rowhouse Livin' gin, either (though I did make a rhubarb pie for myself for Mother's Day). I have maybe a half-dozen jars of jam left over from 2012, but that stock is being rapidly depleted. Late winter and early spring, 2014, are looking bleak!

    Three, seriously, this estate work is taking up a ridiculous amount of time, and I'm not even one of the executors. The elderly aunt was so very generous in her financial planning, but her tangible assets were left in multiple locations and her financial assets were left in numerous accounts across several institutions. One of the greatest gifts we can give our heirs is to leave our affairs organized for them. There are so many vehicles and instruments available. The time you spend with a lawyer now will be a gift of time to your heirs after you're gone.

    And four, apple butter season approaches, and the daughter reminded me just the other day that we haven't gone apple picking for a few years now. I think I'm counting down the days until my next custody Saturday. Maybe early 2014 won't be too bleak, after all.
  • No comments: