Monday, September 5, 2011
Seeing Red: a Canning Saga
So the main reason I haven't been blogging (or cleaning, or anything else deemed non-essential) is that I've been canning pretty much all the livelong day. It stated with tomatoes (diced and cooked) this year. Then I moved on to hot peppers, then peaches, then back to tomatoes (sauce), then applesauce, and then back to tomatoes again. I canned four bushels of tomatoes (which is about eight full computer boxes worth), which is about twice as much as last year and perhaps a little more than I can even use. That took a long time. There were four different days of heavy tomato preservation. At least for my last batch the tomatoes were tiny and my mom told me of a friend who blends her tomatoes whole and then cooks them and then cans them. A very speedy method. The only thing that took any time at all with that batch was cutting them in half and sniffing them (some looked fine but were rotten inside). I added lemon juice this year to my jars when I remembered (which was, sadly, only a little better than half the time). Lemon is supposed to ensure that the tomatoes are acidic enough to can since farmers have started to grow some lower acid tomatoes in recent decades (though, as my mom pointed out, she canned without it for her whole life).
Peaches became a bit of an obsession. I froze some, then set about to make jam. I gotta say, making jam is no joke. My first attempt based on an internet site was to slice the peaches and that batch resulted in a peach syrup with slices of peach floating in it. That we'll use as a yogurt topping. The next batch I cooked in the crock pot, and that batch turned dark brown: viola! Peach butter!
The next batch also turned too dark, so I made those into peach leather. I found a good recipe for that on A Sonoma Garden. That would have been awesome if I hadn't started talking and accidentally left the oven turned on (you're supposed to heat the oven and then turn it off right away) and burnt them a little. Eventually I managed two good batches of peach jam. Which translates to about 30 jars of jam. We should be pretty set in the peach jam department.
Next came applesauce. I made pretty much of that, too. Thankfully, my parents came one day last week and peeled like the wind (I'm a pretty inept peeler compared to my farmer's daughter mother), which is the only way I made it through my four boxes of apples.
Finally, I did a small batch of red raspberry jam.
And now I'm done until next week when the farmer gives me some pears. I'm out of jars, so that should slow me down a little. I'll need to get my red peppers and roast and freeze those. And I did get my zucchini grated and frozen (for baking). I'm feeling pretty good, and ready to rejoin the world. :)