Tag Archives: grapes

Back to the Harvest – 8/30/2018

With the trip behind us, it was time to return to the putting by for winter, a routine that generally is done a bit at a time all summer.  The berries were early and dozens of jars of jam were made and stored.  The tomatoes are not as prolific as in years past and with the blister beetle damage and something that takes a bite out of every one that turns red on the vine, I started picking them pink, ripening them in a window sill, and popping them in a huge bag in the freezer when they were ripe.  Once home, the apples and Asian Pears were ripe and beginning to drop, so they were harvested.  Also before leaving, a bag of Muscadine grapes were harvested and popped into the freezer for later.

The young apple trees that we bought about 5 or 6 years ago do not produce good fruit.  The fruits are small and gnarly, but have good flavor.  Some years I make applesauce from them, but it looked to be too much effort this year with the misshapen damaged little fruits and I wasn’t sure what would become of them, when Wilderness Road Regional Museum posted that their press was up and running and cider was being made for their Harvest Festival.  There weren’t enough apples to get much cider, but the Asian Pears were better formed in spite of some stink bug damage and they also were picked.  There were about 8 gallons of fruit in two buckets and Tuesday afternoon, off we went to press most of it.

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The two buckets produced a bucket full of dry pulp for the chickens and a gallon of rich cider for us.  A quart was stored in the refrigerator to enjoy now and the remaining 3 quarts were put into wide mouth pint jars and frozen for later.

Yesterday, the remaining Asian Pears were sitting on the counter and half were peeled and cooked down with a chopped orange and some sugar to make a few half pints of Pear Marmalade.

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Last night, the grapes were removed from the freezer and pulled from their stems to sit over night in a covered pot.  First thing this morning, a cup or so of water was added and they were simmered soft and run through the food mill to remove skins and seeds, then through a tight mesh bag to remove the pulp that remained.  There wasn’t enough juice to make a batch of jelly, so a couple of cups of unsweetened Concord grape/cranberry juice was added and a few half pints of very grapey jelly were made and canned.

Following that, the last few Asian Pears were peeled, cored, and chopped along with the pulp of a fresh lemon, some sugar, and pectin and a few pints of Asian Pear jam added as well.

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That left the tomatoes.  The bags of frozen tomatoes were dumped in the sink to begin to thaw so that the core could be removed and the skins slipped off.

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A pot full of basic tomato sauce was simmering on the stove to be turned into a  sauce that can be seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices for pasta or spiked with hot peppers for chili when the weather chills.  Once it  thickened enough, it was ladled into jars and canned for the panty shelves.

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The first six pints of 11 jarred.

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Though only 10 will make it to the pantry.  A blow out.  That hasn’t happened in a long while, but is a hazard of canning.

 

The tomato plants are recovering from the blister beetle damage and hopefully, we will get enough additional tomatoes for at least one more batch of the sauce.  We go through many jars of pasta sauce and chili tomatoes each winter and purchasing them at the grocer does not appeal to me.  I prefer knowing what goes into my food without the unidentified “spices” and preservatives that the labels always describe.

Now we await the onslaught of hot peppers for pickling and fermented sauces, the cabbages to mature for cold storage and another batch of sauerkraut, and hopefully more tomatoes as 11 pints will not get us through the winter.  There is still one pumpkins maturing in the garden and a few tiny ones that may never reach a usable size, but if not, they will be split and tossed to the chickens.

I am beginning to see more feathers in the coop and run, molting season is arriving and that means fewer or no eggs for a month or so.  Perhaps I should freeze more so there are some for baking during the non productive period.

 

 

Olio – May 14, 2015

Though today was a beautiful spring day, my body said it needed a day off and Thursdays are Spinning group day and as we were unable to use the library community room today, I had volunteered to host the group.  Because we live out of the way, I put balloons on two crucial turns to help with directions and needed to get the balloons this morning.  Daughter, granddaughter and I went to town for bagels, then to the grocery floral shop for the balloons and home to vacuum up the never ending supply of pet hair. A table cloth change, a few cut Iris, a couple pitchers of tea made and I was ready to sit and visit.

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Many of the spinners are also weavers and one of the ladies often brings one of these little Zoom Looms to use rather than hauling one of her spinning wheels.  I had ordered this one and didn’t expect it to arrive for another couple of days and was delighted while visiting with the group and spinning on my Coopsworth fiber for my sweater, the rural Post driver came down our long drive and honked his horn, an indication that he has something too big for the mailbox.  My little Zoom Loom had arrived.  I let it sit until it got too dark to spin in our loft sitting area and pulled it out to give it a try.  I’m slow both setting it up and weaving with it, but know that will improve and it is so small and portable.

One of my spinner friends is also a gardener and she has a too large patch of horseradish growing in her garden.  Last week I took starts of the perennial sunflower that I have growing in two locations and she offered some horseradish starts, but there were too many people at her house to take the time to dig it.  Today she brought me some and after dinner, I did go out with a spade and clear out a corner of the newest part of the expanded garden and planted  5 of the starts.  We are expecting rain for the next few days and I figured it would help them off to a good start.

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One of the roots was broken and a couple of inches long and we needed a new batch of the homemade horseradish mustard, so I brought that chunk in, scrubbed it well and grated it for the mustard.  It is sitting on the counter fermenting for the next three days before the last two ingredients are added.

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Today was day two of the Buffys free ranging with the Americauna littles and the littles are getting bolder and spending more time with the big girls, but in the evening, they return to the chicken tractor.

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We observed as they are out and about, that the dark colored one that Daughter named Midnight, is larger that the other three though they were all hatched the same day.  She is nearly as large as the smallest Buffy.  They will soon be sharing the coop at night.

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The moving of the grapes and severely pruning them back didn’t seem to slow them down.  Both vines are full of these tiny clusters of forming grapes.  As they are close to the ground, I will probably have to fence them off to keep the chooks from feasting on them.  The plan is to build an arbor of some sort and encourage them up and over, so perhaps just rings of fencing around them until then will keep them away from the grapes.

Today was a good day.  I may spend the next few rainy days weeding while the ground is wet, we will see.