Saturday, August 20, 2011

This Week's Harvest

I managed to can 7 pints of peaches this week.  My daughter and her family surprised me with a visit over the week-end, so I decided to show her what was in store for the baby.  I didn't put syrup on this batch as I had planned.  We're going to use it for baby food for the new baby due in November, so sugar will not be added to any of the baby's fruit.   

The Roma tomatoes are producing nicely.  I'm going to freeze this batch, there's just not enough to fill up the canner and create a mess in the kitchen.  I have a ton of tomatoes ripening, which I'm so thankful for.  My sister was visiting this past week-end as well, so the salsa disappeared quickly.  As a matter of fact, it never made it off the towels on the counter, lol. 

My peppers are starting to turn.  I planted green, orange, and red bell along with the banana, chili, and jalapenos.  I have a tone of chili and banana peppers that need to be harvested.  I going to make a pickled pepper mix this week-end with cauliflower and carrots.  I used the peppers shown over sausages this evening.  The red peppers are so sweet.  I will planting these again next year. 

My squash are producing for the second time this year.  I'm going to fry a few more, and than freeze the remainder for casseroles this winter. 

This pepper was huge.  I somehow missed it while I was in the garden.  I was surprised how sweet it was inspite of how big it got I've found that veggies get bitter or tough if they're allowed to get too big

I'm planning to plant peas and carrots this week-end.  A little late getting them in, but time has not been on my side this week.  I'm planning a baby shower for my daughter Labor Day week-end, so I've had to turn my focus to that.  My SIL asked me to plant collard greens, but I don't see that happening this year.  I need to extend the garden to have space, and I just don't have the time right nowWhat's happening in your garden?  Will you be putting in cool weather crops?  Leave me a comment, I'll stop by.   

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slicing, Dicing, Canning, Freezing!

This has been a busy week-end for me. I taught a Motivational class yesterday morning and came home to 50 ears of corn that needed to be shucked, bagged and placed in the freezer. I was able to purchase this bag of corn for a steal from one of the local farmers. It's Silver Queen and one of my favorites. I love adding it to Lima or Green beans, I serve it abundantly.  There won't be a kernel left. I will be shucking and freezing an additional 50 ears this week-end coming up.  I can usually put away 20 quarts from 100 ears. That's if I'm home alone. If not, the count is reduced I serve a few ears for dinner.

I purchased this stockpot several years  ago for soup, but found that it's great for blanching too.  I purchased a blanching basket from Kitchen Crafts that fits it perfectly.

Giving the corn an ice bath after blanching stops the cooking process in its tracks.  Doesn't it look delicious, and the ears were huge!  

I could probably get an additional half quart out of a batch, but I can't stop eating it while I'm working.

Ten quarts later, it's ready for the freezer. It's a secret, please don't let my family know that it's there.  No evidence must remain else these bags will be gone by sundown, lol.  The husk and silk has been placed in the compost and the cobs bagged and placed in the outdoor trash cans.   Research has shown that it takes a long time for corn cobs to break down, so I don't compost them. 

In addition to the Presto Pressure Canner, I picked up the Ball Elite Water Bath Canner on the far right.   Let me tell you it is beautiful.   A little pricey, but it's worth it.  It's 21 quarts, has a flat bottom, and compatible with my glass top stove.   It truly put my mind at ease, and it worked like a charm. It's stainless steel with a glass lid.   I love the glass lid feature, you can see what's happening with your jars without removing it and losing heat.  This stove cooks differently than the other cook top that I had, so I have to adjust the heat from time to time.  The burner with the stockpot is strictly for boiling.   I can bring items to a boil in no time with this baby.  I burnt several meals on this stove before I learned how to adjust the heat correctly, lol.   My family thought I was slipping! 

Here's a picture of my blanching basket inside of my stockpot.   Perfect.

Here's the end result of my first canning experience.   My breakfast room is right off my kitchen, so I was able to set my laptop on the breakfast table and view Ball's canning video from the stove and counter that I was using to load jars.  Thank goodness for modern technology.   I was able to can 4 quarts of tomatoes and 5 pints of salsa from my harvest.  I still have a bumper crop left, but I will probably double the number of plants that I put in next year.   I'm hoping to do a few more quarts of tomatoes and pints of salsa with upcoming harvests.  I'm loving the Amish Paste and Roma tomatoes, I love how meaty they are.  

 I was happy to learn that I could can my chunky salsa recipe.   I modified it by adding a cup of white distilled vinegar. The modification also called for 3 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.  I was worried that that the vinegar would change the taste, but it turned out pretty good.   I did by-pass the salt.   I'm not much of a salt eater.    

I have a box of peaches coming in addition to the 50 ears of corn this week. The box is from my favorite farmer's market.   They're seconds, but hey who will know that I removed a bruise but me.   Besides they're free. You can't be picky when a farm lets you pick/have them for free.

Overall my first canning experience wasn't as bad as I thought.   I know that I need to pack my tomatoes and salsa in a little tighter to help reduce the water at the bottom per my mother, but I'm a rookie and will know better the second time around.   I'm gardening by trial and error and loving it!   Stay tuned for my post on canning peaches in lite syrup.   As my grandson says, "You have any yummies for my ice cream Mama."  He loves fresh peaches and strawberries on vanilla ice cream.  Making ice cream may be my next endeavor after I get this gardening thing down a little more.  I see a new freezer in my future.  What did you accomplish this week-end.  Leave me a comment, I'll visit. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Finally Harvesting Tomatoes

Today's harvest.  This is all I could manage to carry from the garden this evening.  I was soaked from being there for about an hour.  I'm sure that I lost a pound or two there.  My hair was dripping by the time I reached the back door.  I literally fall in.  I tried to pull a few weeds, add water to the compost bins and harvest these veggies.  I felt like I had gone a few rounds at the gym.  The humidity is incredible in these parts in August. 

There's more jalapenos, banana peppers, green peppers, and onions to be picked.  I'll head out early in the morning to collect those.  I'm quite pleased with my tomato harvest.  I have a combination of Celebrity, Better Boy, Big Beef, Roma and Amish Paste.  I'll be more adventurous with my tomatoes next year.  The little green fellow was accidentally plucked, lol.  I didn't weigh my harvest, but I can hardly lift the bowl.  I'll be canning these along with peaches and Salsa this week-end.  I plan to blanch and freeze fresh corn and green beans as well.  My daughter loves pickled cauliflower, banana peppers and carrots.  I'll make up a few jars for her to take home during her Labor Day visit.     

My Sweet 100 is loaded.  Oh what to do with those? Do you see my Chili Pepper?  It's my first of the season.  I am pleased with my red onions.  I didn't plant many, but those that I did plant look great. I'll be adding most to the Salsa and saving a few for burgers this week-end. 

It's going to be a busy week-end for me.  I need to plant my peas and carrots.  I'll be making baby food with those.  I'm a little behind on that endeavor.  What have you harvested this week?  Leave me a comment and I'll visit. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Today's Harvest

Had a good day in the garden.  The tomatoes are finally starting to ripen.  Looks like more Zucchini Bread on the horizon.  I don't like my zucchini to get as large as the one in the picture.  I obviously missed it in the garden and it grow larger than I like.  I have tons of peppers that I need to get to this evening.  My pole beans are progressing, but they're a little behind.  I had to plant them 4 times because the groundhogs ate them down to the ground.  Hopefully they will take off and produce a few beans for canning. 

I'll make a squash and zucchini casserole for dinner this evening and Blanche and freeze the remainder for baby food for new grand baby who's on the way.  We'll slice the tomatoes for lunch or dinner this week.  Need to get my canner ready,  lol.  They're coming faster than we can eat them. 

What did you harvest this week?  Leave me a comment and I'll come over and check it out.