I'm mostly just "thinking" out loud here. Expect some rambling. Feel free to skip this one.
I put up five more little baggies of spinach tonight. Chopping spinach into 1/4" squares is tedious work that doesn't thrill me. Seeing five little bags of blanched spinach go into the freezer does, though.
1/2 cup portions seems sort of odd. I use spinach mainly in soups, pastas and sauces, and occasionally in dips or meatballs. 1/2 cup just seems to be the right amount to add. None of us love spinach, but it's good for us, and adds a bit of something extra, so I use it. I can pull a baggie straight from the freezer and dump it into a hot soup or sauce and it works great.
Last year was very experimental as far as how much stuff I put by from our harvest. Well, this year is experimental too, but I have some idea now of how much I actually need. I'm taking serious notes - I'm weighing and counting everything we harvest and marking it on a sheet in a notebook I keep in the kitchen. I'm keeping a chart of everything going into the freezer, with space to mark the dates we run out so I know how long it lasted, how much will be needed next year. I have tentative goals for some items, especially the ones I can.
Grocery stores are under the impression that food preservation doesn't begin until fall. No one has lids or pickling salt in stock yet. I'm glad I stocked up last fall! I'm still in the early stages of preserving, as little bits come out of the garden and come into season in the stores, but so far I've pickled 6 pints of asparagus, frozen 8 meals' worth of asparagus soup starter, a triple batch of strawberry jam (with plans to do another triple batch tomorrow) and eight little pouches of spinach. Not much, by any means, but we'll be eating primarily fresh all summer, and hey, at least it's a little bit. I'd like to buy another fifteen or twenty quarts of strawberries before the price goes back up, and just freeze them whole. We like strawberries in our smoothies, and I have a great recipe for strawberry bread that I haven't made in awhile.
Standing at the sink tonight, chopping pile after pile of spinach leaves reminded me of just how much work it is to do this, and we aren't anywhere close to self sufficient. Between everything that I make from scratch, everything I'm trying to put by for later, and meals for us to eat each day plus clean up for everything, I spend an easy three to four hours in the kitchen most days - sometimes a lot more. My back hurts, my hands are painfully dry, and I'm glad I'm sitting down now... but I love the satisfaction of it, too.
My "to do list" right now includes canning jam, making pasta, making crackers, freezing (more) spinach, making a big batch of black beans, freezing strawberries... there's more. I know there's more because the list is stuck on my fridge, intimidating me every time I walk into the kitchen. I just can't remember what else is on there at this moment.
Is anyone else out there preserving already? Is there anything I'm forgetting that I should be doing?