Tag Archives: canning

Transformation

Yesterday it was a bucket of tomatoes.

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This morning they were skinned and chopped along with two gallon size bags of ones that had been frozen when the harvest was too small to bother to can.  Along with onion, garlic scapes, a squash, some salt and herbs all tossed into a giant pot.

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Some simmer time and jar prep.  The pressure canner hauled down and cleaned up from winter’s storage.

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Ten quarts of pasta sauce base prepped and canned.  Unfortunately, two did not seal so I can either reprocess them or better yet, make dinner from one and refrigerate the other for another night.

It feels good to be putting by for the cold months to come.

Putting By Commences

Our strawberry plants are first year and we probably won’t see any berries this year and strawberry jam is grandson and son-in-law’s favorite.  When I was in the grocery yesterday, I saw that 16 oz clam shells of organic strawberries were 2 for $5.00.  Not inexpensive, but a really good price for them.  I haven’t found any you pick strawberry fields within an hour drive of us and even if I did, they probably aren’t organic.  I purchased 6 clam shells of strawberries.  It was interesting that they varied in weight from barely 16 ounces to almost 22 ounces.

I pulled down my copy of preserving by the pint and set about to make jam.

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I love the recipe as it has only strawberries and honey with a couple tablespoons of lemon juice.  Since it is pectin free, it requires longer cooking and a broad shallow pan to cook it, so it only makes a couple of half pints per batch.  The rhythm was quickly found, cutting the first batch, adding the honey to sit for 10 minutes and starting cutting the next batch.  While the first batch cooked, the second batch was prepped.  The first batch was cooked and put in clean jars to can.  While it was processing, the second batch was cooking and the third batch was being prepped.  When done, all 12 half pints popped as they sealed, a good sign and now they are sitting to cool on the kitchen counter.

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There will be a blackberry jam making session this summer.  Blueberries and raspberries canned or frozen for muffins and pancakes or cobblers.

All of the canning supplies will be put away now as it will be a couple of months before we need them again, but it is nice to put something on the shelves now instead of using up the last of the supplies from summer past.  Perhaps we will stumble on another deal on strawberries and will put away a few more jars.

Things I don’t buy anymore

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Tortilla’s for tacos and enchiladas
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Ricotta cheese
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Mozzarella cheese
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Pasta noodles
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Bar soap, shampoo, laundry detergent
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Eggs
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Chicken
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Tomato products, salsas, jams, chutney
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Mustard
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Yogurt and cream cheese
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Hand and body lotion

The longer we homestead, the more products have been eliminated from our shopping list, more products are made at home.  As the garden and orchard grow and my desire to be more aware of what goes on and into my body, the more items are removed.  Hopefully, the day will come when we are growing a couple of pigs on our land and at least some of the lard will replace the oils that I buy for cooking and soap making.  If Son #1 or 2 raise bees, we will be able to have honey and beeswax too (I am allergic to bee stings, so I can’t tackle that task.)

I love being able to make these items, our bread and chicken feed, grow most of our vegetables and have the health and time to do it.

Pumpkin Soup

I thought the pressure canner had been stored away for the year, but then the winter squash started appearing through the jungle of leaves and I realized that I had so much more winter squash than the two of us will ever eat.  Mountaingdad likes pumpkin pie at holidays and will tolerate about two small baked pumpkins stuffed with rice, sausage, etc. each winter, but that will hardly put a dent in the harvest.  Last night I texted Son#1 and asked for suggestions and he was quick to suggest pumpkin soup, and if I canned it, he would eat a couple quarts a week as he takes his lunch to work with him.  This seemed like a splendid idea as soup is my favorite food, if it is not commercially canned soup.  We have a local restaurant that always has chili and two soups made fresh at the restaurant and they are unique and rarely duplicated on the menu.  In the years we have lived here, I have only gotten one soup there that I did not like so I set out to make a creative pumpkin soup. Here is the recipe, I hope to soon be able to insert my recipes in a printable card, but not yet.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

  • 5 c cubed, pared raw winter squash or 3 c cooked winter squash
  • 2 1/2 c vegetable stock
  • 1/4 c onion
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1 Tbs. minced ginger
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 Habanero (may be omitted or use a less pungent pepper for a milder soup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp whole coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c dried milk

If you use raw squash, cook it in the broth until soft.  Blend or puree the cooked squash and put it back in the soup pot.  Retain 1 cup in the blender and blend in the milk powder until smooth and creamy.

Toast the cumin and coriander until fragrant and then grind.  Saute the onion in the oil until soft but not browned, add the garlic and ginger until softened. (You may use garlic paste and ginger paste as a substitute, but just add it with the ground spices) Add the ground spices and the sauteed onion and stir to blend in.  Add the puree with the milk into the soup and bring back to a simmer.  It will stick if you let it boil. Yields about 8 cups

I doubled the recipe and the result is slightly spicy and delicious.  With two cantaloupe sized pumpkins, I made the 4 quarts of the soup for canning and had just enough left over to savor myself.

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I guess it would be a bisque as it is blended smooth and contains milk.  My plan is to alter the seasonings with each batch for variety, make and can until I run out of jars again.  Son#1 said we could bring down another load from his house when I go pick the up for Thanksgiving and they would help me peel and seed the squash and pumpkins to make more while they are here.  It is rather time consuming, peeling and seeding 2 pumpkins, but it occurred to me after I was done that I could have just as easily split and baked them and used the baked flesh instead of boiling it soft, but I do like the flavor the broth added to the soup.

NOTE:  canning failure.  You can’t can pumpkin puree or soup, just chunks of pumpkin.  The soup is in the freezer and will be enjoyed after thawing the jars.  Lesson learned, I guess we just can the pumpkin chunks and make our soup later.

 

Plan for the worst, hope for the best.

As the canning season is nearly over, may be over if it really went down to 30ºf last night as predicted, I haven’t checked yet.  Yesterday was a day to harvest everything that was ready, do a small canning as I wanted to try two of Marisa McClellan’s recipes for canning small quantities.

Before we had freezers, refrigerators, and pressure canners, food was preserved by smoking, salting or fermenting.  The Germans preserved cabbage, the Koreans made Kimchi both using salt and the anaerobic process known as Lacto-fermentation.  These products are available, but the raw, unpasteurized products made at home are so much tastier and have more health benefits.

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Fermentation on the counter.
A basket of tomatillos, assorted peppers, bush beans, too many radishes and lots of greens were brought in, a 2 pint batch of Chunky Tomatillo Salsa made.  Quite uncharacteristic for me, I purchased a quart of out of season Strawberries as one of her books has a recipe for strawberry jam made with honey and Thyme that I wanted to try and I made a small batch of that as well.  I rarely grow radishes as they all are ready at the same time and you go from famine to feast.  I took the surplus and made a quart jar of radish Kimchi then shredded cabbage to start a half gallon of Sauerkraut.  The Cider started as vinegar a few days ago is beginning to smell, well like vinegar.  Maybe another half gallon of Sauerkraut will be made later.  Pickles and sauerkraut used to be made in quantity in large crocks or barrels in the farmhouse basements, the farm cook going down and drawing off what was needed for a meal and the crock re-covered until needed again, lasting until spring vegetables were growing.  We usually go through about a gallon each year. The eveningwas finished blanching and freezing the beans and hoping the plants survive the night to give us a few more meals before the real frosts and freezes of autumn arrive.

The tarp on the meat chicken pen was anchored more securely, the peppers and tomatillos covered with light tarps and row cover.

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A photo of the pumpkin patch was made to document the wild growth they did in the rich soil of the compost bins.

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I’m afraid to venture down to check the thermometer for the low or to peek out to see what survived the night.  I am hopeful that we are high enough to avoid the frost pockets that should have formed last night.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Rainy Autumn Afternoons

are perfect for processing a half bushel of apples.  The apples peeled and cored, some chopped fine for applesauce, another 7 1/2 pints canned, others chopped for Apple Cranberry Chutney, 4 pints, 4 pounds pared and sliced and frozen for pies or cobblers during the holiday or when guests arrive.  Again I am thankful that I discovered the Peeler/corer tool, but it still took quite a while to prep all the apples and prepare the recipes for canning.

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Apple Cranberry Chutney

After trying Marisa McClellan’s Green Tomato Chutney in her book food in jars it seemed that apples would be perfect for a chutney.  After looking at various recipes, I created my own that turned a beautiful red color from the blush pink of the Rome Apples and the red skins of the cranberries.

Apple Cranberry Chutney

  • 2 qts.  mixed apples, pared, cored, chopped
  • 1 c yellow onion chopped
  • 1 c Cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 c Yellow seedless raisens
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp pickling salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 5-6 whole cloves
  • 1 Pt. Raw Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c Brown Sugar

Place the cloves in a muslin bag or tea ball.  Add all ingredients to a large non reactive pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook until reduced by half and thickened 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring frequently.  Remove the spice bag and the star anise.

Ladle into clean hot pint jars, wipe rims, add hot lids and bands.  Water bath process for 15 minutes or pressure can at 11 PSI for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool, wipe and label jars.  Enjoy with roast meat or served over Neufchatel or goat cheese on crackers or baguette slices.

 Tomorrow, I harvest radishes, turnips, tomatillos, and peppers then cover as much of the remaining garden as I can with sheets and hope that we don’t really get a frost this early in October.  Many of the radishes and turnips will become Kimchee, the Tomatillos and peppers will become salsa and hot sauce.  This may be the end of the season for us or we may get lucky and have a few more weeks.

Tomorrow will also be a day to make a batch of Sauerkraut.  I see Roast Pork or chops with sauerkraut and chutney in our future.

It Can’t Be Over

Warm weather and garden season that is.  When I arrived home from last week’s wanderings, the woods were beginning to wear jewels.  I had seen a bit of the dark red Poison Ivy climbing the trees and the barest hints of color elsewhere, but by this week’s end there is much more color on the mountainsides.

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The Maple aka, the Tick tree as you can’t walk beneath it without acquiring at least one.
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The photo doesn’t show nearly the color the eye sees.
So I conceded and pulled out the fall banner and mini banner, the fall wreath, tablecloth, napkins and kitchen towels.  With no kids in the house and no Trick or Treaters come this far, I only put a few decorations out, a real pumpkin on the porch, a resin one on the front table, a ceramic ghost and ceramic lighted jack-o-lantern on the bookshelves.

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The table set with a large dried bottle gourd, a smaller gourd I painted at Garden Club years ago and a Burgess Buttercup squash from the garden.
So I have conceded, sort of, but I’m not ready for the early frost/potential hard freeze predicted for our region on Saturday night.  Today and tomorrow, I will harvest Tomatillos and peppers, drape a sheet over the peppers tomorrow eve in hopes that we either miss the frost or only have a short light one.  Sunday I may be able to find all of the Buttercup squash, Seminole Pumpkins and sweet potatoes, but I’m just not ready yet.

This is when I wish I had a portable hoophouse that could be put over the two beds that are still providing, hoping to extend their season by a few weeks.  Maybe next year.

Today as the rain comes in, I will can applesauce and apple slices.  Yesterday I started the cider vinegar. Tomorrow, we will bundle up and go buy meat for the freezer, leaving space for the 15 chickens that will be processed next weekend.

Printed Goodness

Several years ago I joined the eBook populous and either rent ebooks (did you know you don’t actually buy them!  And they can be withdrawn from your library on the whim of the publisher!); or check real books out of the library and rarely buy a print book, but yesterday an exception was made.
A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger sent me a link to another blog for a recipe. The recipe author has penned two cookbooks.

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Before I bought either, I wanted to preview them and couldn’t find them in the library so I looked for them in our local Barnes and Noble retailer but they didn’t have either in stock. They special ordered them for me to preview and they arrived just prior to my leaving for the retreat so I couldn’t go look at them. Tonight, after dinner we traveled the two towns over so I could preview them before they were returned or put in their stock.

I couldn’t decide between them, both containing many interesting recipes for putting by garden and Farmers’ Market goodies and I left with both books.  I don’t know whether to thank my blogging friend or not, but I have added to my library and have many, many new ideas for preserving garden goodness, so thank you Yanic for the linky.

It Isn’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings. . .

Or the garden quits producing.  The tomatoes are long gone, the Tomatillos and peppers are making up for it.  Much to my surprise, the late planting of bush beans is producing.

I returned from my Retreat and the 12 hours of driving in 2 days, the babysitting and errands with more jars, lots of them.  I have been taking jars to NoVa for three years, full of canned goodness and have brought a few home, but today I have enough to keep me from a purchase for a while at least.

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And bigger jars purchased for the winter storage of bulk goods.

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I left NoVa early today and arrived home in time for lunch with Mountaingdad and wandered off to chicken chores and a garden check and was greeted with . . .

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Peppers, 5 kinds, tomatillos and beans.  This was inducement to pull out the canner again and pickle 4 pints of Jalapenos, 5 cups of XXX Habanero/Tomatillo sauce, blanch and freeze 3 meals of beans and a quart of bell pepper slices.  The tiny hot little peppers that I bought as cayenne are being added to a bottle of vinegar as I harvest them for a couple of smaller bottles of pepper vinegar.

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The more I put by, the more we will enjoy this winter and the more we can share.  The garden has been good to us this year.  I still plan to put up a few more pints of applesauce and a few quarts of apple slices in juice, make a gallon of cider vinegar, as much green salsa and XXX hot sauce as I have Tomatillos and peppers, pints of pickled Jalapenos until the frost hits.  The winter squash and pumpkins continue to spread and grow.  Hopefully, below all of those leaves we will find a good harvest of Buttercup squash, Seminole pumpkins and yellow and white sweet potatoes that were engulfed a couple of weeks ago.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.  It is good to be home.

Watching paint dry

As I have posted recently, we are trying to get our log house re-stained before winter. This either a tough or expensive task as the front of the house has 3 dormers on the upper floor, though the front of the house walks out onto a ground level porch but the roof is metal and steep.  The back of the house that originally was designed to have french doors that walked out to a ground level deck ended up on a walk out basement, not in the original plans and the french doors walk out onto a narrow part of the deck one story up and the deck itself sitting about 4 feet off the ground with a serious stone retaining wall under the west edge.  This makes the dog run dormer on the back of the main house on the 3rd story.  As we have set and moved scaffolding and Son #1 tries to figure out how to set up enough on the deck and in the breezeway garden to go over the breezeway roof to stain the east end of the house, we have discussed the dogrun dormer and its steep sides.

He reminded me that when he was designing and building the deck and walkout that he suggested we extend the walkout the full length of the back of the house to accommodate an extension ladder so he could get up there.  At that point, our building funds were running low.  The painting contractor who did the house 4 years ago sent two young men up on ladders set precariously on the roof to do it, and charged us an arm and a leg for it.  There is no way we are going to let our son do that.  We will get as much as we can done then hire someone brave or fool enough to do that part.  If we come into a windfall of funds (not likely since we don’t play the lottery and don’t have any known rich relatives), we will extend that deck walkout.

The stain we use, recommends it be applied between certain temperatures and with humidity at or below 40%.  This is Virginia, the humidity is never that low, so we have to pick the driest days with a string of expected dry days following it to get sections done and then we sit and watch the paint dry.  The stain should dry overnight, it is taking days.  Days of being careful not to brush up against it.  Days of hoping the cats and dogs stay away from it.  Days and days of waiting.

The plan was to stain the front of the house on Monday.  It absolutely poured rain on Sunday, so we needed a drying out day.  Instead of painting, we made our annual jaunt to Mabry Mill (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mabry_Mill) for the winter supply of grits and cornmeal.  Though it is not ground there anymore, it is locally ground especially for them, it is wonderful and I like supporting the Parkway, the Mill and having local grains in the house.

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The view from one of the overlooks on the Parkway.  A beautiful place indeed.

This morning I was going to start early.  Nope, this is what I am waiting for the sun to dispatch.

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Fog is definitely not low humidity.  Though the temperature last night fell to the low 40’s for the first time, when I awoke, I couldn’t see past the window panes.  Chicken chores were done by feel.

The Rainbow Rangers are huge now, they look like chicks in the bodies of adults.  Some have combs and wattles that are red, though they still behave and sound like chicks.  Their heavy bodies and thick legs make their movement amusing.  If they want to move quickly, they flap their wings and run awkwardly like they are trying to take off. They have 3 1/2 more weeks to feed and fill out before I will be back to only 12 hens and Romeo.  Just as all of the hens are finally laying, it is getting on to molting season and the two older hens will molt this year for sure.  The March hatches probably won’t molt until next year.

I know I said I was done canning, but I can’t resist making one more batch of applesauce so that Son #1’s family can have some this winter too.  And of course, I will continue to make Tomatillo Salsa and XXX sauce until the Tomatillos and peppers quit producing.  Guess I’m going to need more jars after all.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.