Little by little, my freezer is getting FULL. I have not done any canning this year, and I know I will miss my canned tomatoes next winter, but I just don't have the time or the energy -- or the right frame of mind, or something. I still have time to make the pickled beets, and I shall -- I shall. I MUST! My extended family can't live without them, so it is my duty to oblige. I don't really have that many beets this year, though, so I may have to buy some at a farmer's market.
It is such a great feeling to open the doors to my freezers (the little one on the top of the fridge, and the freestanding one in the garage) and see gallons of frozen berries picked from my garden earlier this summer, gallons of green and yellow zucchini, gallons of green beans, gallons of frozen tomatoes, jars of rose petal jam and quarts of broccoli and sliced cabbage and eggplant and green peppers. And in the kitchen, I see baskets and bowls of onions and garlic and shallots and long red chili peppers and habaneros. I still have many potatoes to dig, and there is still much more broccoli and chard and cabbage and beans and beets and tomatoes and peppers and kale and cucumbers to come.
Looking at this bounty, I realize that this may indeed be the first year -- or at least one of the first -- that I really DID save money by gardening -- and lots of it. AND I know where my food is coming from and how it was grown.
I am a major convert to the no-blanch freezing method. Everything that I have frozen this year has been without blanching. It could not be easier, and my stuff looks marvelous. I have eaten one bag of frozen zucchini to test it out, and it was wonderful. The stuff is not all frozen in a big ice hunk as it used to be when I blanched. It is individual frozen chunks or slices, so that I can use larger bags and pull out what I need as I need it. This makes it much more economical, both of money and plastic.
This summer I have repeatedly visited local farms and the farmer's market and have purchased pounds and pounds of organic pork, beef, chicken & a 25-pound turkey for Thanksgiving. I did not grow any winter squash or pumpkins this year, and I regret that. But the freezer is just about fully packed, and...
I'm a happy, fulfilled gardener.