Thursday, September 22, 2016

Autumnal Equinox

Here, on the first day of fall, I'm processing apples. I have another three quarts of applesauce in the canner. Also, I baked an apple cake. I still have at least a peck of apples left to work through and I haven't made a pie yet so that's probably next on the agenda.

Meanwhile, my canning class will be happening on Monday and I'm just working on the last minute details with the director. So far I have five students signed up, and there may be one or two more who enroll before the class begins. It's just a one-time class but if people like it I may do it again.

Also today: the bees got fed. They seem to be going through jars of syrup every four days. I think I'll get one more feeding in before I'm supposed to take out the feeder and stop for the season. The smoker is making this a much more reliably pleasant experience. While I loved going in and out of the hive last summer without my gear, I was definitely unrealistic about the potential for a bad experience. Now that I know more about beekeeping I am keeping the gear on.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Apple Picking

Whether or not we were going apple picking was undecided up until the time we actually showed up at the orchard and it had stopped raining long enough for people to pick. The weather was being rather unpredictable. Regardless, with a friend in addition to the family, we filled our bag with Honeycrisps, Galas, Fujis and Macs. And then filled our stomachs with cider donuts and cider slushies. Mmm.

After a lunch with my parents, we came home and I started cooking. First I used up all my eggplant and tomatoes by making a double batch of eggplant caponata and a single quart of whole tomatoes (26 small, maybe Jolly, tomatoes).  Then we ate dinner and it was time to make applesauce.

I probably cooked about a half-peck of apples, maybe a little more. It was all the Macintoshes and some of the Galas, I think. The Macintoshes cooked down so well and the Galas didn't that after I ran it all through the food mill, I cooked down the peels again to get the rest of the apple bits out. To the resulting applesauce, just over three quarts, I added about two cups of sugar. These were processed for 20 minutes and then rested for 5 before being removed. I'm sure I will be making more!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Salsa Verde Redux

Tonight, after watching our annual Town Day fireworks, I popped a quick batch of salsa verde in the canner. I'm finding that if I roast the vegetables under the broiler for about 8 minutes then it takes no time at all to make the salsa. I put the liquids and spices in the immersion blender's container and then add the roasted veggies and blend away. Tonight's batch started with six tomatillos, one onion, two cloves garlic, two serrano peppers and one jalapeƱo pepper. Now all the hot peppers I have left from the farm are the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers and I can make another batch of hot sauce with them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Midweek Update

There hasn't been a lot of canning going on, although I did get my entries up to the fairgrounds on Saturday. I had to do it in the middle of my workday because I couldn't swap shifts and my husband was out of town. Fortunately my current job is flexible so I started the day really early, left for 2 hours, and came back and stayed rather late. So. Ten entries into the fair for this year. Soon I'll be doing the baking for the other entries I've planned. The fair opens September 30 and I have set aside October 1 to get up there and see how I did!

Yesterday I fed the bees again. They seem to like their more concentrated syrup as the jar was empty. I'll have to go in a shorter time frame for the next one to see just how long it takes them to finish a quart. This interval was 5.5 days. The smoker is working nicely and the experiences have been pleasant and calm. Nice to have that back to normal.

This morning I made ratatouille with all the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers I've accumulated from the farm share. I pick up the next distribution tomorrow and I had to make room in the fridge! Now I'm down to lots of peppers, hot peppers, carrots, patty pan squashes, leeks, beets (I'm hoping for more and then I'll pickle them), and spaghetti squashes. Basically, I'm focusing my cooking on the things that don't last as long (peppers and summer squashes) and leaving the root vegetables for later. Maybe tomorrow I'll get more tomatillos again and can make a batch of salsa.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Something Different

At the farm yesterday we could take "as much as we wanted" of the regular or plum tomatoes on the vine. I decided to try my hand at making spaghetti sauce and so picked every ripe plum tomato (Roma) that I could find. I brought home 22. Sorry to those of you who were looking for some!

Tonight after dinner I peeled and seeded them, then made the Italian-Style Tomato Sauce recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (page 365). I made 1.5 times the recipe as I had more tomatoes than the recipe called for, but ended up only getting a little bit more than the expected yield from the original recipe. Currently they are in the canner for 35 minutes and then when that is done I will go to bed. While I don't think this is exactly what I planned when I wanted to make "spaghetti sauce," it'll do nicely as a base for a quick cacciatore or meat sauce.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


The farm share is full of hot peppers these days and I brought home another 20 peppers:  three cherry bombs and seventeen Hungarian hot wax peppers. These, plus seven or eight habaneros went into another batch of hot sauce. I can smell the heat from the peppers from the other side of the house. A little taste was more than enough!  It spattered on me and gave me a little burn, but I'm not sure if it's a thermal burn or from the capsaicin!

I also brought home a huge bowlful of plum tomatoes and will try to make spaghetti sauce sometime soon. I've not done that before and I think it might be fun. I probably won't get very much since I don't think I'm starting with 20 pounds of tomatoes, but I can at least make some. Whether or not I can it is a different story.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Elderberry Season

One of the few plants that did well this year were elderberries. In the spring the large puffy white flower heads were visible everywhere I looked. I tried to remember where I saw them so I could find the berries at this time of year. My usual spot didn't look so good today, perhaps due to having done so well last year, so I went to a different spot and got a good amount of berries.

The most tedious part of foraging has to be the cleaning and prepping of the food and elderberries are tops in tedium. It took me probably 90 minutes to get all the berries off the stems. After that, though, extracting the juice and making a batch of jelly took no time at all.

For today's jelly: 4 cups elderberry juice, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 5 1/2 cups sugar and one package of powdered pectin. This makes almost exactly 7 cups of jelly.

Now I have a dilemma: I have entered the "other jelly" class in the fair, and I have both elderberry and rose hip jellies. I think tonight there will be a taste test to determine which one I should enter (I can only enter once per class).