Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harvest Addiction

Well, it seems like only yesterday when I was waxing rhapsodic about how wonderful it would be to have a house full of fruits and vegetables I had grown myself.

And now, I have a house full of fruits and vegetables.  Between my own garden and my CSA, I've been inundated.

And yes, it's wonderful.  But it's keeping me terribly busy, because I have to freeze or can or otherwise accommodate everything that will spoil if I don't. 

I know of no way to eat 7 cantaloupes in a matter of days (and there are 2 more still out on the vine in my yard).

Who knew 10 (largely neglected) tomato plants would produce not dozens, but hundreds of tomatoes over the course of a single month?  I sure didn't.

At this point, I have about 6 quarts of sauce and 6 quarts of crushed tomatoes.  I switched to just making the crushed, because it was easier, and I needed a break.  Here's what I've been facing every week for the past month: 

One might wonder, though, why I went and bought nectarines (shown in the foreground) to make chutney, knowing I would also have to spend a couple of hours making sauce.

I can offer no reasonable explanation for my behavior.  The pusher at the farm stand mentioned that the nectarines were "really good," so I bought 15 of them.  That's all I remember.

I ended up face-down on my bed at midnight, after a six-hour canning-bender.  And when I woke up in the morning, I immediately began looking for my next fruit-fix.

I like to think that the peck of peaches I used to make a double batch of peach butter is somewhat self-explanatory.  And if you tried my ginger-lemon marmalade, you would never question my judgment again, on any subject. 

So I bought a storage freezer.  It had to happen.  Thank God the previous owners of my home had already installed floor-to-ceiling shelves in the basement.

I think I've crossed a line somewhere, and I'm afraid there's no going back.  While it's true that I have plenty of produce from my own garden, I have to admit that no one is actually forcing me to drive to North Scituate to go berry-picking all morning.

But this is what I came back with:

I think I may go again on Monday.

Oh, who am I kidding?  "I think I may go..."-- I'm going.  Unless it's raining really hard. 

(Please don't let it rain really hard.)

As I stood at the farmer's store-counter, wide-eyed and trembling like a crackhead watching a bubbling spoonful, I nervously asked when they'll have the cider ready for sale. 

All I could think was, "I have an awesome recipe for apple butter, but I can't use the store-bought cider, I just can't.  I need the good stuff.  I have to have the good stuff." 

At one point, I realized I was talking much too fast.  About apples.

Meanwhile, I've been haunting the aisles of every grocery store I can find, wondering why in God's name I can't find cranberries year-round.  How can I make cranberry mustard, if I can't find cranberries when I need them?

Not the dried kind--I need the fresh.

That's when I realized, I may have a problem of some kind.

My friends, however, assure me I'm fine.  As they pop open the lid on a jar of peach butter or glance at the raspberry jam and ask, "Is that ready yet?", they repeatedly insist that I don't have a problem, that my behavior seems perfectly normal.

But last night, I dreamt I was blanching eggplant.

If that's not the sign of a problem, I don't know what is.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."