Tag Archives: canning

Labor Day of Love

I may be retired, but not idle. If anything, I am busier than when I worked outside our home, coming home to prepare dinner and keep household chores under control

.This weekend, I chose to dedicate to putting by, as the old timers say. No sitting around for me. The harvested basket of mostly pears and some apples from our young orchard, along with about ten pounds of purchased apples were preserved so as not to lose them to spoilage.

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This basket plus the purchased apples, produced with lots of labor and love, and the help of several  recipes:

8 pints of Pear sauce with vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger; 4 pints of applesauce ( must get more apples); 5 1/2 pints of Ginger Pear Conserve with walnuts; 5 pints of Apple Pear and Cranberry Chutney; 4 1/2  pints of a nice spicy Pear Apple Chutney.

While the Chutney was cooking today, I harvested a bucket of tomatoes, tomatillos, and various hot and mild peppers. One pint of jalapeños was pickled, tomatillos were frozen until I’m ready to use them in a sauce or salsa, tomatoes were frozen to make them easier to peel later this week when another batch of pasta sauce or chili tomatoes is canned. There is still a pile of mammoth jalapeños that need to be sliced and frozen and the Bell peppers that aren’t going into tonight’s Greek stew need to be sliced into strips or diced and frozen for winter use.

The peppers are thriving with the seasonable days and cooler nights. The pumpkins are threatening to engulf the entire garden. Something has been munching on the sweet potato vines, perhaps it is time to dig them and let them begin to cure. The heirloom paste tomatoes are beginning to redden and there are many left to pick, though I am sure there will be far fewer canned tomatoes and salsas than last year. The tiny Tabsco peppers are ripening and there are many of them, so some hot sauce will be made later in the season.

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It feels good seeing the shelves begin to fill, the freezer with beans, squash, and beets. The basement refrigerator with pickled cucumbers and peppers and soon to have kraut and kimchi. Knowing that there are 26 chickens being raised humanely to help put pasture raised meat on the table. And greens growing in the garden.

Daughter and her family are due back soon from their weekend away, so the rest of dinner prep and some kitchen clean up is in order. Hope you enjoyed your Labor Day as much as I did mine.

Progress but a long way to go!

Today I tackled the basket of apples and Asian pears picked from our fledgling orchard yesterday. Last year I discovered this book.

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And another by her, preserving by the pint. Sometimes I follow the recipe, sometimes it is a springboard to create my own. Last fall I used one of her recipes to create my own Apple Cranberry Chutney. As the orchard harvest was mostly pears, it was modified to be 1/3 apples and 2/3 pears. Five pints of Chutney prepped and canned and it didn’t put a dent in the basket of pears. One of her recipes is for Ginger Pear Conserve, so I chopped double the called for quantity of pears, two oranges instead of one and doubled the rest of the ingredients to make 5 1/2 pints of the Conserve. It smelled so heavenly cooking with all of the ginger.

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I’ve used only about half of the basket of pears

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After dinner, a few more were processed using the peeler corer and chopping them small.  With a splash of lemon juice, some vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, it cooked down.

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Five pints of pear sauce canned.  One quart of chunks partially cooked and refrigerated as the base ring on my blender cracked and came off in my hand with half a blender full of hot cooked pear.  Tomorrow, I will try to buy a cheap hand mill and make a second batch of the pear sauce using the remaining partially cooked pears and peel and core the rest that won’t be stored for eating with sharp cheese.  While they canned, I ordered the replacement ring for my blender.  I love it as it has a glass jar and a strong motor.

All in all, it was a productive afternoon.

 

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.