Saturday, August 19, 2017

More Gifts

This afternoon I stopped by a friend's house as she had offered me some pears from her tree. Like everything else around here, the fruit has been prolific. I brought her a jar of peach jam and took home a bagful of pears which I promptly turned into five quarts of pears in light syrup. This time I left the pears in halves so they took up more space. That being said, I could have had maybe two more pears total, a couple of the quarts have fewer pears than the others.

The other thing I did today was pressure can tomatoes and celery which my mason had dropped by. This was pretty simple - peel, core and chop the tomatoes and cook them down with sliced celery, then put them in quart jars with a little salt and pressure can them. That gave me two quarts to be used for cooking at some point.

Nothing Wasted

This morning I got up and made apple jelly with the juice I extracted yesterday. Seven cups of juice plus nine cups of sugar and a box of powdered pectin made eleven jars of clear, pink apple jelly. I'm pleased with the color; when I entered this in the fair two years ago the judges specifically mentioned they liked that it was pink. I have managed to get a similar color this year.

Since there were two cups of juice left, I diluted that with some water and added a half a cup of sugar and the next thing into the canner will be two pints of apple juice.

All that was left of that huge pile of apples was about a pint of skins, seeds, and pulp. That's pretty efficient.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Being Neighborly

Two of my neighbors have apple trees and they both have given me apples in past years. This year, one of them got a bag full of peaches and they plan to give me some of their apples in return; theirs are like Granny Smith apples and they're great for cooking. My other neighbor contacted me last week and suggested I come and pick some of their apples, which are more like Macintoshes. Two years ago my apple jelly made from their tree's fruit won first place in its class at the Fair. I'm hoping that works in my favor again this year!

In return for a large amount of apples (I should have weighed them out of curiosity, but I didn't) I brought them a pint jar of peach jam. They were pleased. So was I, except for standing on a shaky stepladder on a slanted driveway to pick apples. But we managed! Here are all the apples:
I quartered them all and cooked them with some water in two large pots and then let them drain over cheesecloth to get the juice. I ended up with a little more than two quarts of juice. The solids were then passed through the food mill to make applesauce. For three quarts of applesauce I used 1.5 cups of sugar. I did contemplate adding my honey instead, to make this super-uber-local applesauce, but I couldn't bear to part with what little honey I have for something that would mask the taste.

Tomorrow I will take the juice and make jelly. I need 7 cups, and I have about 9 cups. Not sure what to do with the rest, except maybe add some sugar and can it just as juice. We'll see.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dill Pickles of Various Kinds

This afternoon I picked up the farm share and, as my friend with whom I split it is away for a few days, I needed to deal with a larger portion of it. I also received some tomatoes, eggplant and celery from my mason. I do have a plan to can the tomatoes and celery and in the pressure canner but I didn't have enough time today. Instead, I made dilled carrots and beans and, when I ran out of those, one pint of dill cucumber pickles. All the vegetables were from today's share.

Since I made two jars of the carrots and beans very pretty, I will enter them in the fair. For later: 3 cups white vinegar, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup kosher salt. Each pint jar had one head of dill, one dried chili pepper, and 1/2 of a clove of garlic. The carrots and beans were packed in so they alternated along the outside, like so:
These, plus the cucumbers, were processed for 10 minutes and then they rested for 5 before I took them out of the canner.

Also in the share: peppers, zucchini, eggplant, lettuce, beets, broccoli rabe, tomatillos, hot peppers, parsley, cilantro, dill, blackberries, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. I'm going to have to eat all the fruit before she comes back, but there is a lot for her to enjoy.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Elderberry Jelly

A month or so ago, I noticed a lot of elderberry flowers on a road nearby. They were on the edge of a marsh, a perfect place for elderberries to grow and grow well. I made a mental note to check them again toward the end of the summer. Usually around here they ripen in late August or early September. Not this year! I happened to be driving by yesterday morning after taking the youngerchild to camp and noticed lots of dark purple berries. Yesterday afternoon I went back and picked a whole bunch.

After I got home, I washed them, got them off the stems, and juiced them. I got a little over 5 cups of juice so I let that sit in the fridge overnight for the solids to settle. This morning, after a run to the hardware store for more jars, I made a batch of jelly. I used all the juice I had and, since it was more than the standard recipe (4 cups) I tweaked:

5+ cups elderberry juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 package powdered pectin
6 1/2 cups sugar

The yield here is 9 cups plus a little bit. As soon as they come out of the canner, I'm going to pick some more peaches.

And, since this jelly won in it's class last year in the fair, I think I won't enter it this year.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


Today I had to make another quart of peaches in syrup because the elderchild opened up one of the jars for a friend who then didn't even eat them!


Also, I picked another 2.5 pounds off the tree making the running tally just about 41 pounds. There are still a few more out there.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Another Post About Peaches

Last night was my first overnight shift in over two years and, thankfully, it went well enough that I had energy this morning to do things. Like go to my riding lesson. And pick peaches. I pulled another 4 pounds off the tree (up to 38.3 pounds and there are probably another 6 or more pounds on the tree, at least that I can see) and brought a few to my riding instructor. The rest went into a peach-wild blueberry cobbler which we just had for dessert with peach ice cream.  I used the last cup of wild blueberries that we picked on Saturday.

I did spend a few minutes after my riding lesson to go hiking up the hill behind the stables for berries. Last year I started a long term project of foraging whatever berries grew at the stables and, when I get enough, I plan to make some sort of jam or jelly with them. Last year I filled a quart sized ziploc with blackberries, black raspberries, wild blueberries, and grapes. Mostly grapes. They're in the freezer. This year so far I've found both red and black raspberries, wild blueberries, and some blackberries which are just getting started. Most likely the bulk of the project will be grape based, but there will at least be a variety of berries in there to add some interesting flavor. Generally each week I get about 1/4 cup of berries. (This project is neither quick nor easy. Yes. I am patient.)