Happy Friday, my friends! So, we canned salsa this week, and let me tell you, as a first time salsa-canner, that it is a HUGE P-I-T-A. The first time I did everything by myself (the kids were sick and tired of the “game” after we finished the pickles. 🙂 ), and it took roughly 4 hours for me to dice, cook and can my 2- 16-oz. and 4 8-oz. jars of salsa. For the second batch I insisted on the kids’ help. Things went much faster (2 hrs. or so of work for 7 – 16oz. jars) and we had a ton of giggles in the process.
But even with the kids’ help, it really is a lot of work. I figured out that we each made about $1 an hour when we worked together as a group. Worth it? Yes. Here’s why:
1. We know what we’re eating. All of the veggies we grow are organic, non-GMO veggies, so we know we’re getting fresh, healthy food all the way around. With store bought stuff, you just never know what you’re getting. Case in point? Store bought onions never bring tears to my eyes, while our home-grown onions are sure to make me tear up. This is largely a freshness issue. A guy we know who does over-the-road trucking to deliver fruits and veggies to the stores said that often times fruits are 2-3 weeks old by the time we take them home from the store. There’s something calming about knowing that you’re feeding your family fresh, home-grown, quality foods.
2. It tastes better. Anyone who’s tasted a garden-fresh tomato or cucumber can testify to the fact that the quality and potency of the taste far exceeds anything you’ll find on grocery store shelves. Home grown, organic veggies carry a sweeter, more intense flavor that makes any meal shine. When we served our first batch of salsa at the girls’ b-day party last week, we didn’t share with anybody but a couple that it was our first attempt at home-grown canned salsa, yet we received numerous compliments and requests for more of the good stuff. And it’s a joy to know that you’re satisfying tummies with your home-grown goodies.
3. We’re building a valuable skill. By canning and freezing our own foods, we’re teaching ourselves and our children how to be more self-reliant. During storms and other catastrophes, store shelves empty out quite quickly, leaving hungry survivors with potentially nothing to eat. Granted, this is a rare occasion in America, but I for one don’t want to be stuck telling my kids there’s no food to eat and that I have no idea how to get them food if a disaster hits. It’s nice knowing we’ve got a little pile of canned foods as backup in our cellar, and the ability and skills to grow more if needed.
4. We’re saving money. With food prices continually on the rise here, growing, canning and preserving your own food serves to combat the financial hit that groceries can bring to your bank account. Our Roma tomato plants, which we paid roughly $3 a piece for, gave us so many tomatoes this year (in spite of a bad growing season and our serious neglect) that I’m not sure if I ever want to see another tomato again. The ROI here was huge: We invested just a few dollars in plants and seeds, yet we’ve got several jars of pickles, salsa and bruschetta in the cellar, and several bags of frozen green beans, green peppers, onions and carrots in our deep freezer. This’ll be a huge money saver come winter. During the Great Depression, gardening was literally what saved people from imminent starvation.
Growing, canning and preserving your own food is, in many respects, a thing of the past due to modern-day conveniences, but maybe it’s time for us to get back to basics. For us, it’s nice knowing that if food prices ever got out of reach for us, or if stores simply couldn’t handle their food demand for whatever reason, that we’ve got the skills and the know-how to feed ourselves. In our eyes, it’s worth every penny we never earned.