This is the end

I just picked the last 3 small cucumbers and one huge yellow one that was missed and was given to the chickens. The refrigerator is full of pickles, but no more fresh ones.

This morning we had a successful, non stressful run to the Farmer’s Market. I paid for a month of membership to preorder so I could be in the first hour of shopping. Everything I ordered was ready with my name on it, prepaid (except one item as the vendor had a very legitimate reason to not be there today). I also found out that one of my favorite vendors that isn’t on the site preorder, has a way to preorder from him too. And I already have arranged with two other vendors to do the same. I was in and out in under 10 minutes with minimal contact. Only one vendor’s stand was so crowded that I turned around and skipped it.

One of the items preordered was a double container of fresh figs. I came straight home with them and made 3 more quarter pints of fig jam. I wish I had bought twice as many. Maybe there will still be more next week. Last week a vendor had Asian Pears and I had hope to buy enough to make a batch of my favorite jam, but not this week. Maybe some kind of pears will show up and I will use what I can get.

Then we had succeeded in snagging a curb side pick up from the grocer and all the other items that we normally get from there were prepaid and delivered safely to the back of the Xterra. I finally felt safe shopping today as cases rise in our region.

A good day, ended with a walk around the pond.

Who was I kidding?

Yesterday, after 14 quarter pints of jams and jellies, I said there was nothing to do for today, then I went into the garden last evening before the rain began, to pick tomatoes and do a bit of weeding. Well, I came back in with this:

While weeding, I turned up two small potatoes, too. That was the half pound of tomatillos I needed to make another batch of green salsa/simmer sauce, and with the fully ripe tomatoes here plus the ones in the kitchen window, enough tomatoes to make a couple jars of salsa. After morning chores, picking a handful of jalapenos, I cored and scored the tomatoes and poured boiling water over them. Chopped the onion, peppers, garlic, located necessary citric acid and salt and made two pints of salsa to add to the shelf. Then the frozen and fresh tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, and spices were blended into a semi smooth sauce and cooked down to 3 half pints of the green salsa/simmer sauce. Instead of using crushed red pepper this time, I minced 3 Thai hot pepper to go with the 2 jalapenos. Bet this batch is spicy.

When cool, they will be labelled and added to the shelf. I have had to clear another shelf to accommodate the past two days. The tomatoes still in the window sill to finish ripening will become canned tomatoes that can be used in chili, soup, or seasoned to make more pasta sauce if needed later. A couple of the tomato plants are beginning to brown, I think we are reaching the end of the season for them. There are probably 200 Thai peppers on the two plants, as they ripen red they are brought in and put in a drying basket. I should start stringing them to dry before I have too many for a single layer in the basket.

It is that time of year when the coop and hen run look like the comic exploding chicken when you see feathers going everywhere. It is molt time, starting with the Oliver eggers, including the crazy broody one. The Welsummers are showing it on their heads, so they will be losing more feathers quickly, then the Reds. That means few eggs, soon, no eggs until they grow their new winter feathers. At least they aren’t waiting until is it frigid outdoors like they did last year.

I would like to start a new flock for next year, but with Covid, Son 1 can’t come to thin the flock, plus the freezer still has at least 4 or 5 from last time. No matter what I do with them, I can’t make them palatable. He does somehow, but he lacks a big freezer and I can’t get them to him. He joked about coming, staying in the basement, eating on the back porch and avoiding the main part of the house so he could pick up his canned and frozen goodies. I joked about driving the 3 hours to his house, leaving it on his porch, and driving back home. I WANT TO BE WITH MY KIDS!!!! ALL OF THEM!!!

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.