The feeling was familiar and reminiscent of a couple years ago BI (before inflation). Me, the grocery shopper extraordinaire, now a hesitant shopper because every time I walk in Meijer a hundred dollar bill flies out of my wallet. For 3 or 4 plastic bags to carry to the house. But the last few days felt like 2020.
Last week a post on Facebook advertised, Friday & Saturday at Meijer, Strawberries, 99 cents a quart (while supplies last). I love them and eat a bowl of strawberries every night when I can afford them. Strawberries aren’t something I can buy ahead because they’re extremely perishable (if you frown they’ll rot on the spot). They don’t have a long shelf life, which means going to the store every few days to buy a couple quarts. And if they’re more than $2.50 a quart I can’t justify keeping them in the house.
Hubs doesn’t care for fresh strawberries but when they’re canned into jam he has a smidge on toast with peanut butter almost every morning. Until there was no more strawberry jam in the cupboard which he’s reminded me of daily. So I bought 12 quarts, 3 to eat fresh and 9 to wash, remove stems, slice into quarters, then smash and freeze for jam. They’re really a pain in the butt to get ready for jam. They don’t smash easily but fight tooth and nail to stay in their original shape (wish I had that much willpower to stay in my original shape).
So we tried something different this time. Still had to remove the stem, rinse and quarter them but Hubs put small batches in the food processor and pulsed for a second. We still wanted pieces of strawberry in our jam just without the tedious process of using my pastry cutter or potato masher for an hour. I packed 5 cups each in ziplock bag and laid them flat in the freezer to save room.
A few days later I noticed Meijer’s new post on Facebook. Friday & Saturday, fresh Raspberries, 99 cents per 6 ounce carton. Well 6 ounces of raspberries doesn’t amount to much. A batch of raspberry jam takes several cartons to make 5 cups of smashed fruit. Still, a far better price than they have been which is about 9 dollars a pound-yikes! So I bought 21 cartons for 3 batches of raspberry jam, minus one big berry per carton-to make sure they were delicious. Pretty good deal for fresh fruit but pectin is up 75 cents a package (I needed 6) and 10 pounds of sugar is up from $5.49 to $6.59 (needed 2). Still haven’t figured out how inflation is up 9% when my sugar is up 20%, and that’s not an oddity with foodstuffs but the norm or lower than some of the price hikes.
Luckily I have oodles of jars, rings and lids I bought on fall clearance a couple years ago because rings and lids have nearly doubled in price. It’s almost cheaper to buy new jars which includes rings and lids than just the 2-part tops. Crazy. Brought up all my canning supplies, washed everything on Friday night to get an early start Saturday. Ok it was 10 a.m. before I was sufficiently motivated but I was done by 3 which included a half hour to eat my BLT.
The sum of my 5 hour canning fest was 54 half pints, 27 of each. Nothing was brought back downstairs but the kitchen was fairly clean, dishes were done and floor was mopped. I usually wait overnight to wipe, label and make sure all the jars have sealed.
An easy supper of nachos was on my agenda when Hubs decides he’d rather have tacos. “Fine, get a container of taco meat out of the freezer.” I’m dotting my chips with nacho meat, adding cheese and throwing them in the oven for a few minutes while I cut tomatoes and shred lettuce for both of us. Did I mention how small our kitchen is, especially when there’s 4 dozen jars taking up valuable counter space? Hubs is making tacos and placing them on his plate, which is sitting on top of a dozen jars of jam. Precarious right? Slid right off the counter, flipped upside down on the floor. Sigh.
I didn’t say one WORD. All his delicious food on the floor (formally recognized as clean). He gets the broom, dust pan, sweeps up the whole mess, plops it in the garbage while I scrub the floor. Again. My nachos are now lukewarm while he scrounges the fridge for leftovers and settles on 2 brats, buns and tops them with sauerkraut. We’ve both seen enough of our kitchen for the day.
The jam is now downstairs, the countertops are clear and the floor is presentable. Still want to can some applesauce, pickled beets, cranberry sauce and make a couple apple pies but the Northern Spys are not ready, neither are the beets. That’s ok, I might need a few days…