Tools and Tasks

Late last summer, we purchased me a large stainless steel water bath canner with basket rack. The rack is supposed to hang on the rim of the pot to load and unload, but the handles are a joke, they take up jar space, don’t hold the rack steady to load without tipping, and won’t stay upright so you can grab them when the canning batch is done. I have considered just removing them. When we got it, I decided I didn’t need all of the other stock pots that vary in size enough to nest with the largest one large enough for canning quarter pints and half pints. It will do a few pints if I don’t use the steamer basket to hold them off the bottom of the pot. I need to find a 10 inch round cake cooking rack to put in the bottom of it. I listed a couple of the stock pots with the deep and shallow steamer baskets and lids and someone said they wanted to buy them, but then didn’t show up twice at our meeting place, so I gave up. Now I’m glad they didn’t sell. I use the largest and smallest stock pots frequently when canning. If I have a big stock pot of sauce to can or want to use quarts, the huge canner is used.

Last year when I was helping out at Son 1’s to help them move, I mentioned the difficulty of picking the apples and pears. They asked me if I had a picking basket and I had no idea what they meant. Later that trip, they showed up with an extension handle picking basket as a gift for me.

That basket and the canning tools are the tools of summer, used only then and stored away for another year.

I did pick the apples yesterday afternoon, using my picking basket, there weren’t many and they were a sorry looking lot, but I brought them in, washed, cut, cooked, and canned before preparing dinner.

They added 5 pints of thick unsweetened applesauce to the larder. There are two left from last year and an open jar was in the refrigerator that had an additional half cup or so added to it as it didn’t all fit in the pint jars. We finished the open jar with dinner last night.

This morning, when I got up, I pulled out a pound of the frozen tomatillos to begin to thaw, went out and picked the rest of the ripe grapes, and while it was still cool this morning, made two batches of jam and canned them using the quarter pint jars I bought for lids before my SIL so generously mailed me 4 dozen. First up was Tomatillo/Lime/Jalapeno jam. It is good on a Charcuterie tray, as a glaze on pork, meatloaf, or spread on a burger (meat or veggie). There are 7 quarter pints to add to the shelf. While it was canning, the grapes that were frozen were thawed and added to the fresh ones and cooked for juice to make Concord Grape Jelly. The Folly Mill that gets used only a couple of times a year, to remove the skins from the cooked apples for applesauce and the skins and seeds from the grapes was pulled off the drying rack and the grape juice extracted. The jars for canning it were put in the canner to sterilize and heat up and the sugar and pectin added to the juice to cook into jelly. That also ended up being 7 quarter pints.

Quarter pints of jams and jellies are a good size as we don’t use a lot, it is good gift giving size, and they get used up before I tire of the flavor and switch to another one from the supply.

Late yesterday, I emailed the reuseable jar lid company and asked when I could expect my order to ship. They originally said up to 2 weeks. I had received 3 identical emails telling me they had plenty and they would ship in approximately two weeks from order date. Yesterday was 2 1/2 weeks. I got an email back saying they would ship today and this morning, received an email that they have shipped. I still have 2 unopened boxes of lids from my SIL, one open one, plus a couple of boxes of wide mouth unopened. I should be in good shape to await the shipment. Right now, there is nothing awaiting canning. When another half pound of tomatillos ripen, I will make salsa. More tomatoes are turning pink then red and more tomatoes will be processed. Peppers are loving the cooler nights and the Thai peppers are beginning to turn red, the Jalapenos producing for brining, dicing and freezing, and when some ripen red with the Seranos that need to ripen red, Sriracha style sauce will be fermented. Tomorrow and Saturday will be cooler, so I will work at closing down parts of the garden, preparing a bed for garlic, while continuing to harvest what the garden will give.

I would love to hear your comments on this post.