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My first (measurable) homesteading goal.

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It’s been a few years since I began carefully considering moving down the road of greater self-sufficiency that is homesteading.

It began a few years ago with a pot of herbs and quickly morphed into a few raised beds with greens, tomatoes, squash, beans, peas, peppers and strawberries.

The next year I began to tuck additional vegetables between my more traditional landscape vegetation, added more variety to my crop and added a rain barrel. That year I hardly had to use water from the tap!

Then Darren became mobile, and I provided full-time childcare out of our home, so I maintained the garden at about the same size the next year in an effort to be able to keep things sane. I dug a 4×8 bed out of our backyard grass and planted potatoes. I was able to create a root cellar space in our cool, dry basement for potatoes and the few winter squash that weren’t killed off by squash bugs.

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Then we moved a few times and lost a whole season of growing. During that time, I put up 2 bushels of peaches in the form of canned slices, jam, frozen slices and nectar. I also put up about 40 quarts of tomatoes.

This year, we have a yard with four times the square footage for planting than we’ve had so far, and I have a varied planting already underway.

I’ve always had the goal to “minimize our grocery bill.” But it’s immeasurable. That means that I can let myself get complacent and trick myself into thinking that I am growing as much as possible.

Not this year! I have given myself an actual measurable goal: to preserve all of the jam that my family needs. No more buying jam at the store.

The definition of jam, as it fits this goal: something that can be spread on bread to be eaten on a PB&J sandwich. Peach jam doesn’t fit in this category. Other specialty jams (like the plum-peach-vanilla that I can’t resist making each year) and jams to be gifted don’t fit in this category. So I estimate that I’ll need to put up about 70 half-pints of jam during this berry season once I factor in our “home jam” and all of the others.

I think I’ll need more jars!

Do you have any measurable homesteading goals established?

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5 responses »

  1. I need to come over and see this in action. My jam (for the second year) did not “jam”. It makes a great ice cream sauce, but not exactly PB & J appropriate. My goal this year is to preserve a bit more of the summer’s harvest. Without a garden or space for inside storage, I would just like a few jars of this or that to make myself feel as though I am on the path for the day I have a garden and space. Maybe by then I will have figured out how to make a good jam.

    Reply
    • My jam set a little loose, but we don’t seem to mind it. It’s not runny enough for sauce, though. You might find that it sets up a little more once you have the jar in the refrigerator.
      The satiny pectin-free jam is so rich and full of flavor that less is needed on a PB&J sandwich, I’m finding. So if the consistency is a little loose, it’s still not going to end up a completely gloppy mess, because the sandwich isn’t flooded with jam.

      Reply
    • Update: I got a pretty firm set on the second week of jamming. The difference, a much longer cooking time at a temperature that was pretty high, keeping the jam at a vigorous boil. The slow-cooked jam yields far less than the quick-cook with Pomona’s, but the taste is out of this world.

      Reply
  2. Hey! You’re back! I totally missed it! You’re going to have a small mountain of jam this year! Will you still be wanting peaches if Wayward makes them available? I know I will! 🙂

    Reply
    • Yes! The canned peach slices have been a hit with everyone we’ve shared them with. We are down to about 6 quarts. I think I got the number of jars just right!

      Reply

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