Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crazy Overdoing it Kind of Day

After getting almost no sleep last night due to a house full of 8 year olds, it made perfect sense to do some canning in the aftermath. Since I'm pretty sure we are not getting significant numbers of tomatoes from the farm anymore, I decided to assemble the food mill, bring out those 5.5 gallons of frozen tomatoes, and make sauce. I still don't have any pint jars, so I planned to make quarts of plain sauce. That way, if I only use half the jar at a time, I won't be bound by whatever the flavor is when I go to cook another tomato based dish the next time.

I thawed the bags in a sink full of hot water and put all of it into my lobster pot to start boiling. It filled the lobster pot. That is a crazy amount of tomatoes for me! Then I set up the food mill and waited. While waiting, I received a text from my sister-in-law (hi, Steph!) about canning the applesauce she just made. I called her and convinced her to come over, with the applesauce, and I'd help her can it. Oh, and bring the grapes, I said.

Before she arrived I started running the tomatoes through the food mill. They were already making an awful mess when disaster struck! Not sure why, but the entire screen and screw set-up fell off the rest of the mill. Which then meant that the motor was now no longer counter balanced and the rest of the mill, with the tomatoes in it, fell off the dining room table and all over the floor. Cursing ensued.

I sent the youngest out to get my husband because, clearly, I needed help. He very kindly reassembled the mill and helped me clean up the mess. Just after the whole thing was cleaned up and I had restarted, the doorbell rang and Steph was there. Not only had she brought the applesauce and grapes, but a bag of pears they'd picked that no one was eating. No problem! We decided we'd do those, too.

I need a larger stove top, don't you think?

We reheated her applesauce, got all the tomatoes through the mill and put the juice back into the lobster pot, the only single pot large enough to handle all the juice - it's still cooking down, 4 hours later! Then I set up the canner and got the grapes simmering on the stove. That's 4 very crowded burners...

The applesauce was put into 2 quart jars and processed for her to take home. That pot was washed. When the grapes were mashed and cooked we set up 2 strainers and started to drain the juice. That juice went back into her applesauce pot so I could make the jelly. We started to do that (after the pears), but realized we wouldn't have enough time for her to do that before she had to leave so set that aside. Then we made a batch of light syrup. Steph peeled the pears and I quartered and cored them and heated them in the syrup. Then we took turns loading all the pears into 4 quart jars. We ended up needing to make more syrup to finish those off and, once I got them into the canner, Steph had to leave. She's letting me have 2 of the quarts of pears. This is good, we like pears.

I turned my attention to the jelly. We had gotten about 2.5 cups of VERY potent concord grape juice. I added enough water to make 4 cups and then followed the recipe from the Certo package. Steph will get 8 half-pint jars of jelly and I am keeping the leftovers in a container in the fridge. It's really grapey. Is that a word?

Lastly, those tomatoes (6 quarts!) are still cooking down on the stove. I suspect they'll be ready in an hour or so for canning. And then I will collapse on the couch.

4 comments:

  1. Did I tell you yesterday that you are nuts!! I can't believe you did all of that yesterday. Hope you take a day or two off! Thanks for all of the help!

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  2. Maybe it's the arm thing. I'll post soon on my days - weird, I was having some sort of frenzy as well, but nowhere NEAR yours!! WOW

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  3. Hey chica, couldn't find your email but I want to ask how you do it. No, seriously - I would love specifics on how you manage to can 2 quarts of leftover soup. Do you use your big pressure canner? Do you keep it on the stove every day? Does it feel like a lot of work (and water!!!) for just a couple of quarts? Do tell, because I have about two quarts of leftover chicken soup and not sure what to do with it. Thanks!!!

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  4. Hmm. I keep the pressure canner in it's box in the basement, and it isn't a big deal to pull it out. Sometimes if I am doing a lot I'll store it on the floor in the kitchen. I don't think canning just 2 quarts is a problem, but I would likely put soup in pints since 1 pint is a perfect serving. (They also take less time to process.) It only takes 1.5 inches of water in it so not so bad. If I know I have another project the next day I'll keep the water in it. In the past few weeks both the pressure canner and the food mill have been living on the kitchen floor in their respective boxes. They take up lots of space but then I don't have to bring them up and down the stairs as much!

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