Archive for the ‘Cannin’’ Category

Got jam?

Hi guys!  I’m looking for a good, simple jam recipe.  I’ve picked and frozen enough berries now to start preserving them.  Anyone have a good berry jam that they make?  I’d prefer no pectin.   Thanks!


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And this beautiful image.  I wish I had a large print of this.  I would hang it up in my house.  (Also I think she kinda looks like me!)

Snatched from the ever-inspirational Phelan

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Canning Green Beans


Here I am finally telling you about my green beans!

A few weeks ago, my parents came to visit me from Alabama for my Birthday.  One of my gifts was a pressure canner which was incredibly exciting.  I have a boiling water canner, but I was feeling limited in my options (and I never want to can another tomato again OH MY GOD).  Thanks to our continuous rainy, cool weather we had over the weekend they were here, we decided to try out the new canner.  I had a good amount of green beans, so that seemed like the appropriate thing to can.

I had never done any pressure canning, so Daddy had to show me what to do.  I generally trust his judgement when it comes to things like this, because he is a microbiologist AND my father, and the combination of those two things make it very unlikely that he will poison me with Botulism unintentionally.

First, we rinsed and snapped the beans.  I have a tendency, when I’m cooking, to snap my beans in rather large pieces since I enjoy the way they look on my plate.   Daddy explained to me that smaller pieces were better since more can fit in the jar that way.  Otherwise, there is a lot of empty space.  My mother said that she liked the way large pieces looked in the jars, but I was short on pints so smaller pieces won the day.

We packed them cold then filled the jars with tap water. 

Next we added a half a teaspoon of salt to each pint jar.  This apparently keeps down bacteria?  I don’t know…I forgot what he told me here.

Then we tightened the lids

Then I proceeded to take 25 “artsy” pictures of my green beans.  OF GREEN BEANS!  Does that seem really sad to you?  I have to say it does to me.  Look how pretty they are though!  I’m not sorry…

Then into the pressure canner my lovely little beans went. 

I had never used a pressure canner before, so it was a total learning experience to me.  It kinda freaked me out, because I was certain it was going to explode everywhere (especially after my mom told me a story of a pinto bean clogging her steam vent once which caused the entire pressure gauge system to blow off and shoot a geyser of hot pinto bean stew all over her kitchen.  Thanks mom), but there were no mishaps.  It did send the cat into an absolute tizzy what with the hissing and rattling that was going on. 

We cooked them for 20 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure.

After we took them out, they clearly lost their beauty, turning into a vaguely-grey mass of beans.  Well, they will be yummy if not beautiful come January. 

The coolest thing about the pressure canning was that the jars continued to boil for almost a half-an-hour after we took them out of the canner.  That was amazing to me.

So!  My first attempt at canning was a success!  Hurrah!

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We had a very rainy weekend (plus Thursday and Friday).  From the very non-scientific measure on my back porch, which is actually a rubbermaid container that holds any veggie scraps we take to the farm, we got about 5+ inches this weekend.   It never rained terribly hard, but it was constant. 

Something about fall rain makes me miserable.  I already dislike this time of year, because I fear cold weather, but crisp Autumn days are actually quite enjoyable.  Wet, dreary, grey Autumn days are awful.  The rain was less welcome because my parents were in town this weekend for my birthday.  It was their first visit to Massachusetts since I came here last year, so I had a lot of activities planned.  Mostly we just stayed indoors and made cheese, canned green beans, and played with the cat.  It was terribly fun, but I’m afraid they didn’t get a very authentic New England experience. 

I was hoping to get some stuff done in the garden this weekend.  I wanted to plant my Walking Onions (y’all call them Egyptian Onions up here, I believe) and do a lot of work in my flower garden.  It’s starting to look very, very sad and I was commenting to Pete the other day that I’ve developed a bit of disdain for it.  In a way I feel like since it isn’t doing anything useful, like feed us, I just don’t have the energy for it.  I know it’s temporary, though.  In early spring, nothing in the world makes me happier than flowers blooming.  So I need to put in some good work now or else I’ll regret it come April. 

This Saturday was our last farm-box pickup at our CSA.  We got winter squash, gourds, apples, a few tomatoes, green beans, and a big bunch of watercress.  I’m sad it’s all over- it’s been a fun experiment to have a CSA share this year and we’ll certainly be a part of it next season.  Pete and I have become very involved in the farm, and we’ve already got our plan with the owners for helping out during the winter and early spring months.  Strangely, considering my earlier statement about flowers, they’ve asked me to develop a flower share for the CSA which is something they have always wanted to do but never had the time to do it.  I told them how much I loved flowers so they asked if I’d like to take point next year developing the program.  Hopefully I won’t drive them in to financial ruin. 

I’ll have an update about green beans coming up soon!

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Have you all been waiting with baited breath to see what 40 pounds of tomatoes looks like? (Umm…yeah, it was 40 not 50 THANK GOD.) Please forgive me for not immediately posting a picture, because you can sure bet that I took one the second that I hobbled into the house under the weight and spread them all out on a table.

Nice, huh? And though you can clearly see a few oozy ones in this picture, let me assure you that they were few and far between. These are lovely tomatoes with super extra bonus points for about 15 percent of them being Amish Paste and Brandywines! Hurrah!

(I ate the Brandywines.)

There was a slight mishap with the pickup as I thought we were getting thetomatoes at his house and in fact we were picking them up at the farm, but we did get to mill around his yard for a while and watch his turkeys watch us.

Wow those are ugly birds.  But I bet they are delicious.

By the time we realized and rectified the error, picked up the tomatoes and made our way home it was about 7:30 and I insisted on jumping right in to the canning.  Thanks to some silly ideas on my part, it went very, very slowly last night and we didn’t finish until past 11 and only had two quarts and three pints to show for it, one of which didn’t seal.  And they are probably all chock full o’ Botulism.  Mmmm…neurotoxins…

But tonight I got home (after spending 45 dollars at the Plymouth Farmer’s Market, God help me!  It isn’t like I don’t have every inch of counter space filled with some vegetable right now.  Sometimes I am not the best planner in the world.  But there were sweet potatoes!  And lard!  How could I stop myself?  HOW?) and was much for efficient and here I am now with 4 Quarts of crushed tomatoes and 3 pints of tomato bits/juice quietly bubbling away just before 9 PM and oh there is my timer…

Bollocks…all floaters.  I don’t know how to make them not do that.  But they are sealing!  The third one just pinged.  There is seriously no better sound in the world, I think.

I’ve still got about 40% of them left, which I hope to finish tomorrow.   And then deal with 7 heads of cauliflower and the carrots that I still haven’t pulled from my garden.

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Over my head

I did something potentially stupid, I think.  Well, maybe not stupid but certainly overly ambitious.

I’ve been on this quest for tomatoes for a couple of months now.  I wanted tomatoes- a lot- to can.  I checked with the lady that I got my seedlings from.  I checked with the people who run my CSA.  I  checked with everyone I could think of.  Here was the answer from everyone:  It’s been a bad year for tomatoes, I don’t have many extra.

And then!  Hark!  My seedling lady gave my name to a friend of hers who had tomatoes!  Buckets of tomatoes!  Loads of tomatoes!  And he said he would sell them to me for a dollar a pound (the oozy, broken ones, that is) or two dollars for the pretty ones.

And I told him I wanted 50 pounds.  40 of the oozies, 10 of the pretties (to can whole tomatoes). 

What the hell was I thinking?  That is A LOT of tomatoes, and I don’t know how I’m going to handle them.  We’re going to pick them up today after work and I am afraid.

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Pickles and a Tomato

Last night Pete and I pickled 4 Quarts of Dill Pickles.

We pickled three of them as spears and one as rounds. Sadly, we were running very, very low on dill (next year: Grow dill! Do you have any idea how expensive that stuff is in the grocery store? And that here we can’t even find it in our regular grocery stores so we have to go to the fancy ones. What a crock! Dill is so easy to grow and very prolific. We’ve learned our lesson here.) so we augmented the dill with some Parsley that we have growing on the back porch. Weird, I know…we’ll see how that goes. Maybe I’ve just discovered something fantastic. Or, more realistically, I just ruined four perfectly good quarts of pickles.

We did add a LOT of garlic, though, so that is a point in the “yummy” column. We’ll give them a try in a month or so. It was a new recipe I’ve never used, so I’m not going to post it until I can say if it was good or not. Be patient!

I also wanted to show you my single Brandywine tomato. Really…my only one off of the entire plant. This has been a terrible tomato year for me. I think my problem was trying to grow them in pots (and mostly far to small pots, at that!) and they just couldn’t get going. I eventually replanted them, but only one recovered. It was a big one, at least! It must have weighed about a pound.

(It probably wasn’t quite ready to pick, but it was getting that “I’m gonna split any day” look and feels soft, so I just went ahead and picked it.)

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