Tag Archives: canning

Tomato abundance

It’s probably time to can tomatoes.

Some are rotting on the vine in the greenhouse.  Many are hollowed out by the resident chicks, and still, the tomatoes are cascading down the vines.

My favorite way to can cherry and grape tomatoes is to jam them all in a jar whole, and pack them with water with a bit of vinegar and salt (proper canning procedures, blah blah).  They come out cool as refreshing as when they were picked, softened, with a hint of tang.  I can eat a pint of them straight. 

2016 Canned food tally

I think I’m finished with canning for the year.  I think!

I have to make a habit of tracking my annual canning.  I’m curious to know what the ideal #s are for two people for one year.

  • 6 pts Plumsauce
  • 24 pts “V8”, or, attempted tomato sauce that came out as juice, and after that much work, I canned it anyway.  We drink a fair amount of V8, so that’s a few we won’t purchase
  • 24 pts Tomato sauce (that did work)
  • 21 pts Grape or Cherry tomatoes
  • 6 pts Pickles
  • 21 pts Pears
  • 36 pts Applesauce
  • 78 pts Peaches
  • 6 halfpts pickled garlic
  • 41 qts Tomato “soup” – just the tomato part of the soup, aka tomatoes between juice and sauce – they will make many good (tomato basil, cream of tomato, chili, did I mention tomato basil?) soups and stews.
  • 46 more pts Applesauce

I hoped to do more “convenience foods”, like ready to eat soups.  I also hoped to have most of a month to focus on preserving, but it turned out  the opposite.   It was a very busy Sep/Oct: I had to fit preserving in at the end of workdays and it was a weary, onerous task.

That’s a total of 309 jars; 42 canner batches (! – now I’m kind of impressing myself).

I canned no pumpkin this year, because somehow I have quite a bit left over from 2015, and I think I did far fewer apples, because it was an awful apple year.  Edit-I purchased apples, and canned two more bushels.

Trash the rack!

This is the canning game-changer of the year – a silicone canning mat.  Not only does it make everything quieter (no rattling), wayyyy less frustrating (those wire lifting racks are simply awful), but the water stays clear (no rusty lifting rack rusting into the water), AND nine pints fit in the canner with this mat, as opposed to seven!

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Available at Lee Valley Tools

2015 Canning inventory

Since I thought I should make a habit of documenting how much I can every year, I looked back into 2015, which was Year One for canning serious quantities.

I found my list alright, but for the big ones – peaches and apples – the number is left blank!  Argggh!  So, I have to estimate, based on 2016.  I canned two bushels of peaches each year, but I did more apples than I did peaches, sooo….

  • 15 pts beets
  • 2 pts plumsauce
  • 3 pts blue plums
  • 3 pts red plums
  • 3L pickles
  • 3 pts pickles
  • 14 pts pears
  • 5 pts pineapple (grocery store sale!)
  • 5 pts cherry tomatoes (whole,  with a Tbsp of vinegar and pinch of salt – SO good)
  • 7L peaches
  • 60 pts peaches (approx)
  • 70 pts applesauce (approx)
  • 7 pts pie-ready pumpkin
  • 28 pts pumpkin
  • 4 half pints peach honey (not really canned, just jarred)
  • 18 half pints pesto (ditto, jarred, and frozen)

So that’s (approx) 30 canner loads, including 6 double loads in the pressure canner for the beets and pumpkin.

 

 

Plum preserved

Blue plums are so pretty.

Oh, I may have invented this:  I was displeased that my first batch of plum “preserves” separated in the jar- 1/3 liquid, 2/3 fruit mush.  So I put the next batch through my jelly bag (but only quickly, not a full extraction), and the result was part 1, incredible glowing pink plum juice which I drank, and part 2, plum”sauce” the texture of applesauce, which I canned.   It did not separate in the jars then.

I like that plum skins soften to indiscernability.  Removing the skins from everything is not my favorite activity.

The apple flow is on

Every day, the first apple tree is dropping five gallons of apples.  Dropping.  That’s a fraction of how many are staying on the tree.

About half of them are split, and go to the pigs and hens.  When I pick them up, wasps come tumbling out of the splits.  I think they might get drunk on the spoiled apples.  The wasps are luxuriating in the apple glut.  Pretty soon, the pigs are gonna give me the Another apple? face too.  The undamaged ones, I’m saucing, since this is a lovely sauce apple.

This is one of the dozen or so trees HW pruned in the spring, and this tree has responded exuberantly.  Many of the apples are “store-sized” already (would expect a couple years pruning to come up to full size).

This is just the first tree to get ripe, of….63?

Haha.  There are, at last count, 63 apple trees here, but only about a third of them look likely to bear apples, and most of them haven’t been pruned, so they have tight little stingy apples.  If all goes well, we will have a fine amount of cider this year.  Over time and annual pruning, more of these legacy apple trees will come back into production.

Pumpkin!

In which we see displayed the full life cycle of a pumpkin

I canned this year’s batch of pumpkin.   That’s 20 future pies, and as you can see, there’s another batch to do up.

Apparently you’re not supposed to can pumpkin in puree form because it’s too dense, and the bugs can hide in it and not get cooked out.  You’re supposed to can it in cubes, and puree it later, when it’s pie time.  I just learned that. Stuff would never get made into pies though if I had to do that. It takes forever to cook ’em all down, and it’s more convenient to only get the stove splattered up like that once.

I’ve been doing it for years and I’m going to keep doing so, but do not can pumpkin puree.  It’s dain-ger-ous!

Canning day

Apparently, I have an addiction to altering recipes.  I just can’t leave well enough alone.  It all starts out innocently enough, but then I feel compelled to add some oil that’s not called for, or a bit of butter, a dash of uninvited  ginger/honey/molasses.  What harm could a splash of orange juice do?  Besides throw off the wet to dry ratio entirely.

Plus I never measure anything.  I’ve got ok eyes for quantities, but what with this inexactitude and the compulsive substitution, it means anything I bake is A) a total crap shoot and B) impossible to reproduce if it’s a brilliant success.   Sometimes I’d be better off just throwing some flour and eggs in the garbage and saving a bunch of work.

I’ve no idea where I got this.  When I was little and learning to bake, I know we were making things where measuring was crucial.  Like butterhorns.  One doesn’t guess at those.  One follows the recipe to the letter.  One sifts.

such a pretty colour

I was canning all the pumpkin pies of the 2010/11 season today- an annual event that I haven’t missed for years and marks the years as clearly as Christmas for me.  I can’t believe 12 months have passed already.  Last year all the pumpkins were my own, but this year, I got zucchini and squash but no pumpkins out of the garden, even though I had 100% germination from my saved seeds.  So I purchased them, happily organic and localish, pretty much from the next town.  Chock full of bright flesh and fat seeds and very little air or pulp.  I’ve never made such a big bowl of roasted seeds, either.

Pumpkins are awesome.  So carvable, delicious sweet or savoury, and so beautifully coloured and carmelizing.

It’s amazing that it can take so long to arrive at 12 glowing glass litres of pumpkin: an entire day.  But then, that’s 24 future pies, so time well spent.  It’s a good thing that the event itself is pleasant and makes the house all warm and spicy.

My big secret to pumpkin processing day is to cut the pumpkins in half, empty them, and then bake them open face on a cookie sheet until they’re just slightly soft.  Then the skin comes off like a ripe pear, and you can chop it like a banana into the pot that you will then put in the hours stirring regularly as it simmers down to the perfect, starchy pulp.  Peeling and chopping a raw pumpkin is fairly arduous, I’ve found.  Well, one pumpkin would be  fine, but six raw pumpkins- another matter.

Between pumpkin tasks, I was baking batch after batch of zucchini muffins (no two alike) that slowly put a small dent in one zucchini – the one that dwarfed the coffeemaker.  I was planning this marathon of baking and pumpkin pulping, but didn’t quite plan on having it run over midnight.