Tag Archives: canning

Olio – September 10, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

At times I consider whether I should just rename my blog Olio as most posts fly all over the place.  It is only mid morning on a day that the weather prognosticators said would be mostly sunny and dry, but instead it is thickly overcast and too humid again to paint or stain.  The grass too wet with dew to mow.  This isn’t to say that the morning has been idle, no instead a load of laundry has been folded, Grand #1’s bed remade from his weekend visit; another load of laundry washed and currently drying; the chicken coop refreshed with a turn of the old hay and an addition of new hay; the meaties chicken tractor given a good layer of hay in the bottom as it is currently more or less permanently set at the end of the 6 foot wide run to contain the 5 week old chickies and it was beginning to not smell so pleasant.  Another huge bucket of tomatoes have been harvested, though I haven’t begun to process them yet, as I can’t decide what this batch will become, probably just plain diced tomatoes.  Just in the last couple of days, the tomato vines have begun to fade.

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There are still plenty of tomatoes to harvest, but this is a signal of the end of the summer growing season.  This morning, the spent cucumber vines were pulled and tossed to the chickens to peck at the last few cukes and the bugs on the vines.  Each year I begin the season faithfully pinching suckers from the tomato plants and trying to contain the branches within the cages and by this time each year, the branches have fallen over and through the cages and the plants look pitiful.  Perhaps next year I will use strong stakes instead of cages and tie the plants up as they grow taller, being more faithful about leaving only one main stem.  Next year, they will have the rich soil of the compost bins as we remove the wood from them this winter to expand the garden and create a more reasonably sized compost bin in a new location.  So much of the stuff that used to go into the compost, now goes to the chickens and their bedding becomes the compost, so having the bin near the coop door on the edge of the garden would make more sense.  That area is where I planted the Buttercup squash, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes this year and between them and my weeding efforts, the bin have remained fairly weed free this summer.

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The squash have spread over the woodpile, over to the vegetable garden, into the chicken run and up the hill past the hay bales and out of the electric fence.  Many of the huge leaves have burn marks across them and cause the electric fence to pop as they touch it.  Yesterday as I mowed, with the fence off, I snapped off the leaves touching the fence.  I know that one day soon, I will begin to see those vines fading like the tomato vines.  The peppers are loving the cooler weather and are blooming and producing new peppers daily.  The summer squash are mostly done.  It is now a time for greens and a few radishes and turnips.

As I sit here waiting for the inspiration to can or the grass to dry for mowing, I am enjoying one of the only two magazines to which I subscribe.  The magazine is Taproot, no advertising, full of wonderful art, recipes, articles about back to a simpler time of producing your own food, making your own clothes, growing your own animals and knowing from where your goods come.  If you haven’t ever seen an issue, you should seek one out.

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Each issue has a theme and each is wonderful to savor each word and save for future reference.

Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

 

A Touch of Fall

This past weekend was to be a staining weekend.  Son #1 and Grand #1 came in on an early morning bus Saturday, but the day dawned as many have lately, overcast, foggy and high humidity.  As the fog cleared, it was still overcast, so the staining was put on hold yet again and since he was here to work, we tackled the garage door that hasn’t worked properly in a couple of years.  We have had to hold the button constantly to raise or lower the door and the electric sensor was not working at all.  This rendered the remote in the car useless.  We made a trip to the nearest hardware store, in the next town since our local one went out of business and purchased a circuit tester and a few odds and ends.  He was able to isolate where power was no longer reaching the sensor and with a bit of rewiring and door adjustment, it now goes up, comes down gently and reverses when it hits an obstacle or the light beam is broken.  The morning harvest sat on the counter throughout the day.

Yesterday was similar weather, but he managed to get the garage doors caulked with me following as clean up before he and Grand caught a bus for home.  Once back to our farm, I tackled the Saturday harvest and made and canned 10 pints of Tom Tom Salsa, though I left out most of the lemon juice as hubby felt it was too tart for his taste.  Yesterday’s afternoon’s storms brought a significant temperature drop.  This morning dawned quite cool and still cloudy.

Each time I can, I get my exercise hauling empty jars up to the kitchen and full jars back down to the root cellar.  The shelves in there are quite rewarding now as they fill with jars of tomatoes, chili tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce and XXX hot sauce.  The drying shelves are filling with garlic and Burgess Buttercup Squash.  There are many more of them ripening in the garden and I can’t get to the sweet potatoes anymore until the squash and pumpkin vines start dying off.

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As I was taking Son #1 to the bus, I asked him if there was a good way to reinforce the bottom of one of the pseudo orange crates that I purchased years ago at Michael’s Arts and Crafts so that I could load the full jars to the basement and for bringing canned goods and produce to them when I make my trips to their house.  We started purchasing the crates when he was in college and his library that he hauled from dorm room to dorm room to apartment were shelved in them.  Each semester, adding a few for new texts and other acquired books.  When I moved across the state to our new farm, my handthrown pottery, china, and books were packed in similar crates for the move.  Some of those crates have the bottom slats stapled on at an angle, others straight in.  I have feared having the bottom drop out of one.  He suggested taking a 1/2″ thick board cut to the width of the crate, drilling pilot holes and screwing the boards on the bottom across the slats.

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One of my projects this morning was to reinforce one of those crates, then to prepare and can 11 pints of pasta sauce and a pint of Pickled Jalapeno peppers.  My past two days have produced 21 pints of tomato products.   The garden is still full of tomatoes and peppers, but the jars are getting scarce.  I haven’t been able to locate any on Craigs list this time of year and I don’t really want to buy more in Big Lots or the Grocery.  I will can using the last 5 pints and last 11 quarts then start freezing bags of tomatoes.  The freezer us under utilized this year, other than chickens.  Unless we end up buying apples to pare and freeze, there will be plenty of space for quart or gallon bags of frozen tomatoes.

Today as I was boiling a pot of water for peeling the pounds and pounds of tomatoes, one of the burners on our flat top stove failed.  I had mixed feelings about a flat top stove when we bought our appliances 7 years ago, but for it to match the refrigerator and dishwasher, that was my only choice.  I guess we are going to have to get a repair estimate, but this isn’t good timing with canning going on and with estimated taxes due.

Olio – September 5, 2014

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

The Rainbow Ranger chicks have exceeded 2 pounds each at 4 1/2 weeks, far outgrowing anything we have to use as a brooder. They are getting feisty with each other, chest bumping and pecking. They are mostly feathered and it is still warm to hot during the days and mild at night. They were requiring twice daily brooder clean out, had gone for a week without supplemental heat in the garage, so a decision was made today to relocate them to the auxiliary pen, confined to the chicken ark. We did concede to put a tarp over the sides and will keep our fingers crossed that we don’t lose them now. Again I vow to let my hens do the work of raising chicks from now on or we are going to have to build a bigger outdoor brooder with electricity so we can put the heat lamp in it.
The March hatched Buff Orpington pullets are almost all laying finally. We are getting 8 or 9 eggs a day and thoroughly enjoying having them again.
Between canning tomatoes and cleaning chicks, I have found time to finish my Hitchhiker scarf.

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And spin and ply 383 yards of Merino wool into an interesting DK weight yarn.

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Now I need to decide whether to sell it, or create something with it.
When we had a cool evening two weeks ago, I pulled out my Elise sweater I knit last year and determined that it pulled at my shoulders because it is just a bit too small for me.

 

 

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I don’t have anymore of the yarn, nor do I want to reknit it as I have two other sweaters currently on needles and they are both shades of blue or teal, so I am trying to decide it’s fate.  My options are to try to sell this hand knit sweater for little more than the cost of the yarn, to try to trade it for spinning fiber, or determine if there is a relative smaller than I that would like to have a hand knit sweater that has to be hand washed.

Last weekend, I broke my second tooth of the summer.  The first required a crown and that tooth still hasn’t been finished, a temporary crown in place until mid week.  When I called the dentist, they were able to get me in yesterday and fortunately this one only needed a filling repair for now.  Being a molar, it likely will eventually need a crown as well.  I have 6 already and lost one crowned tooth because of repeated gum infections between it and the adjacent tooth.  I hope that with dental repairs and care, I will retain most of my teeth as my 91 year old father has.

It has been a good week and we continue to love our life on our mountain farm.

 

Tom Tom

The garden provided 5 pounds of tomatoes, 2 pounds of tomatillos, a dozen or so various hot peppers this morning. I quick decision that salsa at $5 a pint and large cans of pickled jalapeños at under $2 a can, that the peppers are better used in salsa than just being pickled. Another round of canning commenced.
The tomatoes peeled and diced, the tomatillos diced, onions, hot peppers and garlic chopped. Eight pints of salsa in the making.
Today’s creation is Tom TomSalsa.
Tom Tom Hot Salsa
5 lbs tomatoes peeled and diced
2 lbs tomatillos husks removed, washed and diced
1 large onion chopped (2 cups)
10 cloves garlic minced
12 jalapeño pepper minced
1 habanero pepper minced
1 Tbs oregano
2 Tbs cilantro
1 Tbs pickling salt
1 cup lemon juice
Place all in a heavy nonreactive pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Ladle hot salsa into clean, hot pint jars, seal with new lids, tighten bands and water bath process for 20 minutes.
Yield 8 pints

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The shelves are being filled with garden goodness.
The pullets are laying more each day. We are getting 7 eggs most days from the 10 pullets and 1 hen. Broody Girl went into molt as soon as she quit being broody and hasn’t laid an egg in more than 2 months. I’m not too happy with her right now.
The Rainbow Ranger chicks at not quite 4 weeks old already weigh about 2 pounds each and have seriously outgrown the brooder. They are in a large dog cage with an attached run in the garage and get as much daytime outdoors as weather permits. They foul their cage daily. Can’t wait until they can go out to the chicken ark and run to live out their lives until mid October.

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Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

The summer kitchen

Much more time is spent in the kitchen than in the garden this time of the season. Each morning after animal chores and breakfast, I wander in the garden with baskets in hand, pull a few weeds, but mostly harvest. All tomatoes except for the occasional slicer are destined for canning in some form or another. Most of the Tomatillos now are being frozen in 1 pound bags as most recipes call for a pound.

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There are 5 pounds in the freezer since I am saving my jars for tomatoes and salsas. On mornings when the Tomatillos are generous and there are too many Jalapeños for a pint to can but not enough for 2, a batch of green salsa is made. Most of the Habanero’s are being strung to dry, there is so much XXX sauce it probably won’t get finished off this year.
If an Ancho pepper turns red, it is also strung to dry to make enchilada sauce later. There are two types of Cayenne’s in the garden. I didn’t realize that until the second type started bursting forth with peppers. Really I think they are not Cayenne’s though they were sold as such. The pepper is much smaller, grows upward and is hot, maybe Thai peppers, which is okay too. The Cayenne’s are strung to dry for crushed red pepper for pasta, pizza and cooking.

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Today there were lots of tomatoes ripe in the garden and more on the window sills and baskets in the house, so today was Chili Tomato canning day. Nine pints are out of the canner, sealed and cooling on a tray on the counter.

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These are my answer to the name brand tomatoes with green chilies that you purchase in the grocer. Mine are a bit spicier and lack the BPA lined can. We eat lots of Chili con Carne in the winter so they are a welcome addition to the larder.
Chili Tomatoes
4-5 quarts of peeled diced tomatoes
3  diced green Ancho peppers
4  diced Jalapeños
1 Tbs pickling salt
Place a heavy non-reactive pot on the stove top. Add the peppers and a couple of cups of diced tomatoes and simmer to allow the pepper to start cooking (I continue to add the tomatoes as I peel and dice them). Once all the tomatoes are added, add the salt and bring to a boil.
Ladle the mixture into clean hot pint jars. Wipe the rims and seal with new lids. Screw a band on and pressure can according to directions for your canner. Here in the mountains, it is 15 minutes at 12 PSI. They can be water bath canned but I would add some lemon juice to each pint to ensure acidity. My batch made 9 pints with about half a cup left over that I just added to the salsa in the refrigerator.

Lesson learned, last week I made 10 pints of pasta sauce and didn’t label them. The rest of the canned goods were labelled. Hubby opened one thinking it was salsa and noted that it wasn’t spicy like the first jar. I couldn’t figure out why one jar from a batch would be very spicy and another not at all until I went to get jars this morning and noted that all the salsa was still there but one jar of spaghetti sauce was missing. Mystery solved and lesson learned, label all of the jars. I would date them too, but nothing I can this year will be left at the end of winter except jelly and I do date them.
We are having internet issues right now, so posts may be sporadic for a while as well as replies to comments, my apologies in advance.
Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

No Space Left

This morning’s tomato harvest pushed me over the edge. There was no more counter space to put them. Tonight the deck herbs can return to the deck and I will have plenty of collecting space, but not this morning. Since I was making pasta sauce, I prefer to pressure can, so down came the big canner, out came the instruction book for a refresher, out came the big sauce pot, chopping board, kitchen knives and ice water bath.
Tomatoes were removed from the freezer, peeled under running water and put in a large glass bowl to thaw. Fresh tomatoes were blanched for peeling, chopped and set aside. Onions, garlic, carrots, summer squash all chopped and sauteed til tender. The tomatoes were added to the pot with seasonings and simmered. Just before canning time, a few ounces of tomato paste were added.
The sauce was ladeled into 10 pint jars, just what my canner will hold and amazingly just the amount of sauce made and all processed for safe keeping.

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The next batch will be diced chili tomatoes, the canner being a fixture on the stove top for weeks to come. A batch of plain tomatoes will likely be made, more salsa and pasta sauce until the tomatoes are all used up. We will eat well this winter.

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Ten perfectly sealed pints cooling on the counter.

The Hot Shelf

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Every few days, the tomatillos, jalapeños, and habaneros overwhelm me and processing takes over the morning. Four more pints of hot green salsa, 1 more pint of pickled jalapeños, and 4 more 1 cup jars of  XXX hot sauce (http://wp.me/p3JVVn-GH) were made for winter storage. The spicy globe basil was finally dry and it was crumbled and stored in jars 2 1/2 pints worth.
The tomatoes are beginning to ripen quickly so I will stop freezing them and start canning chili tomatoes, pasta sauce and more Casa Del Platero (http://wp.me/p3JVVn-GK)  salsa for winter.
Peeks under the row covers show green bush beans developing, brocolli, chard, kale and cabbages getting some size on them. The winter squash and pumpkins are so verdant that it is difficult to see the fruits hidden in the jungle of leaves.

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This has been a good garden season so far. Hopefully there will be lots to eat this winter.
Lovin’ life on our mountain farm.

Rainy Sunday Musings

Again it rains! Everyday for the past 7 days. The grass is literally knee deep and too wet to mow. The decks haven’t dried to be able to paint. When I brought these in last weekend I had no idea they would still be on the kitchen counter.
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These are my kitchen herbs for a quick snip when cooking and I don’t want a trek to the garden. They live on the south deck, just outside the Dining area French doors. Some winter over in the house, but not this early.
And then there were 4. . .
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Last night when I went to lock up the girls for the night, there were 4 eggs. There are two 17 month old hens (1 not currently laying); three 26 week old pullets; eight 24 week old pullets, one whose comb and waddles are still small and pale. It has been 6 weeks since we were getting more than an occasional egg. I have missed them but have enjoyed a few this week with our fresh tomatoes and a few shreds of raw cow milk cheese.
Since it is rainy and wet, instead of mowing, I will process more tomatoes and tomatillos.
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The garden is giving. The rain causing the tops of the tomatoes to split. There are more Habañeros than we will ever need for hot sauce and salsa, I am going to experiment with drying some. A pinch of them dried and crushed will surely add a kick to curry or chili and Son#1 will use them.
But the flowers love the rain and it does make the weeds easier to pull between storms.
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If it doesn’t stop soon, I will need a machete to get to the garden and the coop.
The chicklets are getting huge. They are 2 1/2 weeks now and going through 2 jars of feed and a gallon of water a day. I moved them temporarily this morning to a smaller brooder box long enough to clean the huge water trough that serves as their brooder. It is 15 square feet of floor space and looks too small for the 15 chicklets that seem to double in size weekly.
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The most severe storm we had on Thursday evening damaged some component of our internet service. Our provider iuis a local coop with no weekend hours, so being on the internet or posting right now is an effort in frustration.
We love life on our mountain farm!

Salsa Season

With tomatoes and peppers taking over the empty spaces in my kitchen, sauces and salsas are the order of the day most days.  The lion’s share of the tomatoes become pasta sauce for the quick winter meal.  With or without meat added on serving day, spaghetti or penne cooked al dente and a salad or green beans sauteed in olive oil with a splash of lemon juice and sometimes a chunk of bread if I have been baking.

Another couple dozen jars will be canned tomato chunks with green chilies for using when I make my prize winning pot of chili on a cold eve.

Hubby and Son#1 love salsa, fresh or canned, green or red.  I have made one batch of tomatillo/jalapeno salsa and will make more with the next harvest of tomatillos.  Pico de Gallo is always welcome, but only happens when everything is fresh from the garden.  This year, I am going to try canning my own salsa as the brand of choice here has risen in price to nearly $5 per pint. To make this, I am going to use the one referenced in yesterday’s XXX hot sauce post.  We were visiting our cousin at their casa in Mexico and they have a husband and wife staff.  He cares for the grounds and does maintenance, she cleans, deals with linens and if you purchase food, will prepare breakfast and dinner for you for a very small fee.  If you want a great place to visit, check out www.Casadelplatero.net .  Our cousin likes his salsa too and this was served with breakfast and dinner’s in.

Casa del Platero Salsa

2 medium tomatoes, cut in half

1 medium onion cut in halves or quarters

2 jalapeno peppers cut in half lengthwise

2 cloves garlic

salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet in a small amount of cooking oil (I use Olive or grapeseed) cook the tomatoes, onion and peppers cut side down until lightly browned and softened.  Add garlic and cook just until fragrant, don’t let it brown, it gets bitter.  Place all in a blender or food processor and blend until a chunky salsa consistency.  Salt and pepper to taste.  May be served warm or chilled.  It will keep for a week or two in a jar in the refrigerator.  If you want it less spicy, just use less jalapeno, if you want more fire, add more or add a half of a habanero pepper.

As I plan to can it this year, I will add 1 Tbs lemon juice and 1/2 tsp pickling salt to each hot pint jar before spooning in the salsa and will water bath can it for 25 minutes (I live above 2000 feet so adjust to your altitude) or pressure can it for 15 minutes.

The remaining tomatoes will be eaten fresh or canned plain for those days when I just need canned tomatoes for a recipe.  It looks like a bumper crop this year.

Summer Delights

Yesterday was miserable!  My day started with dog and chicken chores in the rain, not a gentle summer shower, a torrential downpour.  I had moved Broody Girl to the auxiliary chicken run and chicken tractor the day before and had put her in the chicken tractor with some amusing effort the night before.  Her food was in there, but not her water.  She squawked unmercifully until well after dark.  Figuring she was better off in the tractor since it was raining, I attempted to put her water in with her, but she dove past me into the run in the rain so I just left the door to the tractor open.  Now I have heard that turkey’s are stupid enough to drown in the rain.  That may be an old mountain tale, but Broody Girl was stupid enough to stand out in the pouring rain nearly all day instead of going back inside the tractor.  Last night I felt sorry for her and returned her to the coop, very wet and very agitated.

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The first thing she did was go to the nesting box and I ran her off.  She is showing me her wet displeasure.  This morning she exited the coop with the others and has stayed outside.  Yay!

Once those chores were done, I spent 90 minutes in the dentist chair getting a temporary crown on the tooth I broke 7 weeks ago when I went to Northern Virginia to pick up Grandson #1 for the summer.  As soon as I got home from that, the dentist did a build up so the tooth wouldn’t break anymore until he could see me for the crown prep.  This is not a fun time.  It is my 6th crown. 

As we were headed home, still in the pouring rain, we picked up the power washer as scheduled and in spite of the rain, our neighbor with my help cleared the covered front porch and open back deck of plants and furniture and he power washed both.  He was soaked from the effort and the rain and I was also from helping to move furniture and the hose from front to back.

Today is still overcast and has rained off and on, but not like yesterday.  The weather broke enough after we returned the power washer for me to do some harvest.  It is definitely that time of year. 

The two trips out to the garden resulted in a huge bowl of mostly hot peppers and another of tomatillos.  A few tomatoes are getting picked each day and a few lemon cukes.  The counter full of goodies encouraged me to haul out the water bath canner, a box of jars, and the other necessaries to put some of it away for the winter.

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The cayennes were strung to dry, the habaneros and a couple pounds of tomatillos were made into another batch of the I No Longer Have Taste Buds XXX hot sauce (son said it was wonderful), the jalapenos pickled for hubby, the rest of the tomatillos canned in quarters and the lemon cukes pickled in a dill brine.  

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One afternoon’s canning session cooling on the counter.  A good addition to the goodies accumulating on the shelves for winter consumption.  As I’m a rather adventurous cook at this age, the XXX hot sauce must be documented so I can duplicate it next year.  My basic idea came from a visit to Mexico where the woman house staff made a salsa for us from Jalapenos, tomato, onion and garlic.  That one is good too.

I No Longer Have Taste Buds XXX Hot Sauce

a dozen or so medium Habanero peppers

2 lbs (16-20) tomatillos

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic

2 Tbs. lemon juice

1 tsp pickling salt

1/2 c fresh of 2 Tbs dried cilantro

In a heavy non reactive pot, heat a couple of Tbs of Olive oil and saute the onion, chopped coarsely.  Quarter the habaneros with seeds (gloves are advised), peel and chop the garlic, remove the papery husk, wash and quarter the tomatillos.  In a blender, place the peppers, garlic, tomatillos, sauteed onion, lemon juice and salt and blend until fairly smooth.  Pour back into the heavy pot, add the cilantro and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking.  If you are going to can this for shelf stability, it should be water bath canned for 20 minutes in pint or cup jars.  It will keep for months in the refrigerator if just packed in hot jars and lids with bands applied.

I do love this time of year.  Enjoying the spoils of our garden and the labor of putting is away for winter enjoyment.  Soon I will be canning tomatoes and tomato sauce nearly every day, but it will be so good later.

Life is an adventure!