Yes, it has been hot. Really wicked hot, hovering around 100 F. But that doesn't stop the veggies from coming in from the garden. When they're ready, they're ready.
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours canning up some garlic dill pickles (hot water bath canned). I am trying to put by all that I am able to this year to help feed us right through the winter. While I won't put by enough for all of our meals I like to think that everyday this winter the work I do now will help fill our table. It might be something as simple as our rhubarb ketchup or a crock of homemade ginger carrots, but it will be our own pantry food.
We are stocking our larder in four ways: 1) from our garden; 2) from our CSA share; 3) purchasing in bulk from local farmer friends; and 4) by foraging/hunting/fishing. My goal this season is to put food by in some capacity every week.
So far we have jam, yesterday's pickles, lots of various dried teas from forest and garden, and a freezer full of ketchup, greens, rhubarb, berries, assorted pestos, local trout, and summer butter (butter made from grass fed local milk).
Putting food by is a regular part of our routine. I make a weekly trip to a friend's farm to buy whatever she has in abundance that I can put by. No special requests. I just get what she has to get rid of. The price is right, and I like the connection of visiting with my friend and leaving with her produce. This week it was cucumbers. I'm expecting beets and broccoli next week.
You can supplement at your local farmer's market. Going late in the day will get you a bargain on what the farmers haven't sold and don't want to bring home. If you're new to food preservation look for a good book at the library or ask around. You might now someone more seasoned at this than you.
Along with the cucumbers I used garlic (from a friend), dill (volunteers that appeared behind my asparagus patch – fence jumpers from the neighbor's garden), wild grape leaves (foraged on my way home with the cucumbers to help keep the pickles crunch), sea salt, water, and vinegar. I canned 13 assorted pints and quarts and set them joyously in the pantry last night. (For the seasoned canner, the proportions were 2 3/4 C vinegar, 3 C water, 1/4 C salt.)
There is something about watching those shelves fill. It's magical. It is a feeling of wealth, abundance, and self-reliance. It's happiness in jar form.
Soon I will harvest many heads of cabbage, cucumbers for live-fermenting, and armloads of kale and chard from the garden. And they will be put by. I can't wait. I'm a bit of a geek, but food is my bliss these days.