Sunday, April 8, 2012

2012 Canning Season Starts!

So, yeah, I'm declaring an early start to this year's canning season. The extremely mild winter and my own laziness make this April 7 opener possible, and I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank them both...

The garden is already full of onions, potatoes, leeks, and baby salad greens. The greens are from purchased starts—I just can't get it together to make cold frames and start them from seeds—but the onions, potatoes, and leeks are mostly from extras and left-overs from last year's farm box.

However, that's not why we're here...I got lucky and made a couple of excellent scores off the discount shelf at the grocery co-op, picking up two bags of organic tomatillos, and a large bag of 10 Gala apples, all for six bucks. Let's make some shit!

Now that the kitchen's clean, I'm gonna make apple sauce—a good thing, too, since we are OUT. I've got the jars on the stove sterilizing while I core and chop the apples. No, I do not peel the apples. The skins don't bother me or the hubs, so why bother?

When I first started canning, I could never tell how many jars to prep. Now, though, I can eyeball it and come pretty close. Looks like 3, 4 pints to me.

The tomatillo salsa recipe I use calls for 1/2 c. chopped white onion. Which I don't have. So I grabbed a leek out of the yard and chopped that up...Way more than 1/2 c., so I put the rest in a glass pan and popped it the oven to dry. (The dried sprinkles are great on eggs, in soups, and the like. It's still in the oven drying, so it's not in the group photo.)

So, three-and-a-half pints of fresh Gala apple sauce and five half-pint jars of salsa verde for...let's call it eight bucks. I had to go the store for some jalapenos and cilantro—more produce that my yard does not supply. Not too shabby!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Shameful Lack of Posting

...but I'm back!

Thanks for your patience. The garden's coming along despite its near-abandonment this spring; we thought we were moving. Surprise! We're staying right here.

So we're eating the strawberries and the first three small tomatoes, and lots of lettuce. Even a few potatoes. The garlic's in and cured. I put a little bit of it in today's batch of chutney...because YES, it is plum season.

The camera's out of commission, so forgive the Photo Booth pix.

But the oh-my-gosh discovery of the week? Strawberry-ginger jam!

Let the canning begin.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Friday, April 9, 2010

How'd I do in '09?

I like this part of the year: nothing to can yet, just enjoy the fruits of last year's labors. And I am doing my best to enjoy them!

Here's what I did last year: 35 jars of tomato sauce, 12 of cranberry sauce, 20.5 of blackberry jam (and we ran out!), 20 of apple sauce (which I am still enjoying), 6 of strawberry jam, a single jar of delicious yellow plum jam and two of nectarine, 4 jars of yummy zucchini pickles, 7 of green tomatoes and 3 of green-tomato relish (thanks, Arcata summer!), 7 jars of jalapeno rings, 9 of lemon marmelade, 8.5 of fruit chutney, 3 of pepper chutney (not as good as the fruit), 5 of pickled lemony green beans, 3 of red-pepper jelly (we just don't eat enough bagels), and a single jar of cucumber pickles.

...a grand total of 147 pints of canned goods. Not too shabby for a gal's first-ever year of home canning!

But as the empties pile up in my pantry I am curious: just how much did I can this year? That was the season I finally took the plunge and bought a pressure canner. And a new enameled pot for hot-water processing. It feels like I went to town...


I guess I did go to town.

(In case you're curious, that was 39.5 pints of bread-n-butter pickles (just barely enough!), 10 of dill pickle spears and rounds, 8 of sweet pickles (a pain to make, but clearly I need to make more as we ran out pronto), 25 of blackberry jam, 7 of peach jam, 34 of strawberry jam (and that's off only 3 6-by-6 beds), ten of lemon marmelade and 3 of lime, 14 of green beans (that taste just like canned green beans from the store; huh), 25 of fruit chutney (way too much as it turns out), 8 of cranberry sauce (which has only lasted into April because it got hidden behind the blackberry jam in the pantry; we only rediscovered it while searching for more sauerkraut), 7.5 pints of New York-style hot-pepper relish (a big hit, so 7.5 pints was not enough), 28 of pickled hot peppers (jalapenos, rajas, etc), 22 of tomato sauce (better from last year, but still not enough to make it to tomato season this year), 9 of whole tomatoes (which helped but still, we will run short), 17 green tomato pickles (plenty), 6 of sweet zucchini relish, 3 of pickled onion (which will be better next year! I have an idea), one of pickled garlic (still thinking about that), 2 of pickled beans, 2 of tomatillo salsa, 2 of pickled zucchini...pickled beets and radish didn't go over well, so I probably won't go there again.)

It certainly gives me an idea of just how much food a family eats in a year.

Now, I wait for May and what another year of canning will bring me. w00t!

We made it through winter

...with enough to eat; how nice! Seriously, once we figured out that I'd put up enough cans to carry us through to canning season this year, we have been pigging out on pantry yumminess.

It's funny: last year we couldn't get enough of the chutney, green-tomato pickles and jam I made. This year it's pickled peppers, sauerkraut, and straight-up pickles (sweet and bread-n-butter).

Part of my morning routine includes chatting with the folks at the local grocery co-op about all things agricultural. They are a pretty ag-savvy lot! One of the women I like talking to has goats, and yesterday my step-daughter dropped off a quart of fresh goat milk and some home-made chevre from this woman's herd.

I admit to being a little scared of the milk; I know it will have flavor, like all truly fresh food. Will I like it? It still astonishes me that chicken eggs have so much chickeny flavor. Compare the taste of a backyard or farmer's market tomato with its mealy cousin from Safeway and you'll have some idea of the way an egg made by one of our girls tastes.

But back to the goat milk. I don't want to not like it; I might just make fruit smoothies with it and ease into it.

But the chevre; we can't get enough of the stuff. We are very fortunate to have a goat cheese maker right here in town (Cypress Grove) and a store that carries a large selection of NorCal goat cheeses. Since we also have a lot of eggs, what with the longer days, I made us onion-and-chevre omelettes for dinner last night. For garnish we opened a jar of pickled peppers.

It was delicious.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Make what you eat...

...Eat what you make!

I don't know about you, but when I have a spare 45 minutes, I think, What could I can? Today it was cranberries.

Mmm, home-made cranberry sauce! Good on turkey, pork, in a spoon, on ice cream...all year long, too—or as long as it lasts in the pantry.

And yeah, I see I need to wash my windows. Someday.

Frittata Sunday!

So, technically, only the garlic and the eggs in the baking dish came from my back yard. But on this lovely rainy and sunshiney Sunday I made a vegetable-and-cheese frittata and a couple of jars of cranberry sauce. If you want to put some up before cranberries disappear from the supermarket shelves, try this original-to-me recipe:

Suzanne's Cranberry Relish

4 c. whole cranberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 can pineapple chunks (or crushed pineapple if you don't want a chunky sauce)
juice and zest from one lemon
juice and zest from one orange
1/8 c. fresh grated ginger (or less, to taste, if you are not a ginger fanatic)

Combine it all in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cranberries start to pop. Reduce to low/med-low and continue to cook until you can pop all the cranberries with the back of a spoon. You can either can it now, or take it off the heat and refrigerate it overnight, which will jell it up, as it's pretty runny right off the stove. Makes approximately 6 cups.

Sunday, October 18, 2009