Friday, September 19, 2014

Foraging Many Things

Over the past few weeks I picked a lot of wild grapes at the stables.  In addition to a small bag of mixed foraged fruits (grapes, elderberries, and blackberries so far) I got over 3 pounds of grapes to make a batch of jelly.  Today I extracted the juice from the grapes and left it to drain for a few hours while I ran a few errands.

One of those errands was to check out the foraging on the bike path.  Last year I'd found hops growing wild on the path so I went back to get more.  I must have just missed the peak of the season as many of the flowers had turned brown but I was still able to find enough to add to a batch of beer.  I'm drying them now and then I'll put them in the freezer until we're ready to brew.  The other thing I grabbed was a bunch of black walnuts.  I drove over them with the car to get the husks off and brought them home to dry.  I got about 20 but I think a few might be bad.  I won't really know until they're ready to crack open.

After I got home, I finished the batch of grape jelly - 9 cups in total.  I only canned 8 cups, though, and the rest is in the fridge.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Too Many Tomatoes

This afternoon I went out to the farm and picked up the share.  Even though I didn't pick up everything, I came home with:  an acorn squash, 2 pounds of beets, leeks, scallions, a head of lettuce, 1 kohlrabi, 1 cabbage, 3 pounds of potatoes, 2 heads of garlic, 2 eggplant, 8 peppers, 10 hot peppers, dill, cilantro, parsley, green beans, a watermelon, a half-peck of apples, and way too many tomatoes.

Since skinning and canning the tomatoes last week turned out to be pretty easy, I decided to do that again.  I had a bunch of plum tomatoes and a bunch of small slicing ones.  I was able to get 2 quarts of each type, canned whole.

As to the rest, I think I might see how far we can get with just eating everything and then, before the next pick up, have another marathon canning session.

Last Call for Raspberries

After making a batch each of raspberry jam and syrup, I'd wanted to go back and get enough berries for one more batch of jam.  We always seem to run out of it faster than anything else and, since 2 jars go to the fair, I was already down.  Today was the day I'd set aside for this; my timing couldn't have been better!  The berries were terrific.  I was able to fill my bucket, which holds 5 pints, in half a row and about 30 minutes.  After paying for them and putting them in berry baskets, I went back and picked one more quart.  That was just the right amount as 3 quarts makes one batch of seedless jam and now we have some for eating!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Beach Plums

Last weekend, we went to the beach and flew kites for a while.  It was a perfect almost-Fall day, at least before it started to rain.  At least we were off the beach by then.  However, I noticed a fruit I'd never seen before and, after a minute, realized they had to be beach plums.  I took a little taste to confirm my suspicions and then, over the course of the afternoon, picked a few.  Half a pound, to be exact.

Clearly, this isn't enough to make a full batch of anything.  I put them in the freezer and thought about them for a few days and found I could make half a batch of jelly.  Today, that's sort of what I did.  Here's what I know:  it would have been smarter to pit them like cherries and then just make jam.  I boiled them with a little water and ran them through the food mill instead.  What happened?  Well the pits were too small and jammed the mill, so eventually I had to take the whole thing apart and then simmer the pits and pulp again.  This was strained and then I took out the pits by hand and put the pulp back into the pot.  When I had 2.25 cups of liquid and pulp I added half a package of powdered pectin and 3.25 cups of sugar.  This made 4 8-ounce jars of jam and a little leftover.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Cleaning Up

One of those jars of tomatoes from the other day didn't seal so I put it in the fridge until I could get to the next batch of caponata.  Today's batch differs in that I had no celery or green olives so I used extra Kalamata olives and peppers instead.  This finishes off the eggplant and bell peppers I've had in the fridge from the farm.  This batch is going into eight 8-ounce jars so I can add to my gift stash, as it's time to really get moving on the holidays!

First thing I did this morning, though, was make a batch of yogurt.  I have discovered I like using yogurt from Green Mountain Creamery as a starter and I hadn't had a chance in a while to get to the store that sells it.  Now that's resting on the heating pad in the basement and it'll be done after dinner.

Something bad happened to the sauerkraut I was making; it seems it didn't make enough liquid from the cabbage and the salt and the top of it got all moldy.  Sadly, the only thing to do was to toss it.  I suppose I might get more cabbage from the farm but maybe the sauerkraut will have to wait until next year.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

An Avalanche of Tomatoes

For perspective, the bowl on the right is a LARGE salad bowl.
This week's farm share included lots of tomatoes.  LOTS.  A quart of cherry tomatoes, some Jolly tomatoes, and many, many larger ones.  I already have 5 gallons of tomatoes frozen to make tomato sauce and, I think, that's enough.  I thought maybe the Jollys would be good if they were canned whole and then I remember that I like using canned diced tomatoes for some of my stews and figured I could use the rest for that.

After skinning the tomatoes by immersing them in boiling water, I set aside the Jollys.  They fit into one quart jar.  The rest of the tomatoes were seeded and diced and they filled 3 quarts and 1 pint jar.  Each jar got some lemon juice and salt and then they were processed for 45 minutes in the boiling water canner.  I was worried that the lemon juice wouldn't get distributed evenly but I shouldn't have, the tomatoes shrink a bit and so all the liquid circulated nicely.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Before Work Scramble

I only had a few hours between when the kids left for school and I had to leave for work, so I quickly started a batch of Wine Kraut with the 2 heads of cabbage I'd accumulated.  They only weighed 3.6 pounds so that meant mixing the cabbage in the crock with 2 T. of salt and tomorrow I'll add 1/3 cup of white wine.  Sauerkraut is so easy - you just let it do it's thing and it's happier if you leave it alone!

I also took the last of my green beans and made 2 pints of Dilly Beans.  Each pint had half a large clove of garlic, a flower head and a sprig of dill, and 3 peppercorns.

Even with all this canning and fermenting, I still have a lot of produce left before tomorrow's pick up from the farm.  In the fridge:  peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, patty pan squashes, carrots, turnips, dill, parsley, and a melon.  I guess I'll go cut the melon now so it'll be less to do before breakfast.