Harvest Home

Sep
2

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I’m canning. I’m freezing. I’m dehydrating. It’s that time of year. Harvest time. Being serious about storing up as much of your own food as possible means a total concentration when the food comes in. And the food is coming in. Now.


Much of my day yesterday was spent blanching and peeling 50 pounds of tomatoes.
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I’ll be working on another 20 pounds today. More tomorrow. And the day after that. I won’t be satisfied till I have at least 40 quarts of tomatoes in the pantry. Preferable would be 50. I use about a quart of tomatoes a week. Tomatoes are a huge part of my everyday cooking. Lasagna. Stew. Chili. Pizza. Many of our favorite recipes require tomatoes. I’m only about halfway to my goal of 40-50 quarts.

When I do large quantities of tomatoes, I blanch and peel one day then reheat and pressure can the next to break up the work. (You can process tomatoes in a hot water bath, but a quart takes an hour and 40 minutes in a hot water bath as opposed to 10 minutes in a pressure canner. If you don’t have a pressure canner, go get you one. A pressure canner is a wonderful thing. Be not afraid. Pressure canners are, obviously, also very environmentally-friendly as it takes much less energy to process food in them.)

I was also freezing peaches. To freeze peaches, per quart of peeled, pitted, sliced peaches, add 2/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons produce protector. Let sit 10 minutes then place in a quart freezer baggie. Seal and date.
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My go-to method for preserving all food is canning because a power outage can’t ruin home-canned food. However, when so much is going on at once in my kitchen and food must be preserved now or it will spoil, freezing and dehydrating has its place. Some foods are even better frozen and dehydrated, or in other cases, just more convenient. (Assuming you don’t have a longterm power outage!) I’ve been freezing peaches for the past month, in the sugar/produce protector mixture rather than in any particular recipe (or pie filling, etc) so that I can choose by whim to make pie, cobbler, whatever, as I take the quart bags out. I love peaches and I’m excited to have so many quart baggies already in my freezer. I’ll be putting more in over the next few weeks, unless I have time to can some peaches. Depends on my tomato stock……

I was also using my dehydrator yesterday. I dehydrated peach peels and pits, of course. (No wasting!) And I had some apples that were mostly bad, so I also dehydrated them, cores, seeds, and all, for potpourri along with the peach peels and pits. (Okay, I also gave a couple of the apples to Pocahontas and the chickens. The chickens also love to eat all my tomato peels.) I dehydrated a bunch of zucchini chips, too. The dried zucchini chips will end up in soups and stews and casseroles.

While I was working hard, the chickens were grooming themselves.
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Pocahontas was grazing.
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Bread was baking in my oven so we could have ham (cooked the night before) sandwiches on homemade bread for dinner. (Crucial to big food preservation days is the planning of easy meals.)
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Nutmeg was begging for cookies.
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Flowers were nodding by the garden gate.
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Ducks were managing to stay together, avoiding any panic situations.
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Kitten and Little…..
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….were finally going outside….
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….to have Big Adventures.
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And Coco was finding the entire day’s events terribly exhausting.
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Me, too. But in an oh-so-satisfying way.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on September 2, 2009  

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Comments

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  1. 9-2
    2:14
    am

    I heard or read somewhere long ago something that always rings true during canning season. “I am blessed with work.” How fortunate we all are to be able to can, to have wonderful fresh food to put away for winter, to have the means and a home to do it in.

  2. 9-2
    2:50
    am

    ‘Tis the season! I went to bed exhausted last night from doing a bunch of canning yesterday…….and had the same feeling :yes:

  3. 9-2
    3:57
    am

    I LOVE YOUR STORIES! I FEEL LIKE I KNOW YOU WHEN YOU LET US INTO YOUR LIFE LIKE THAT!

  4. 9-2
    5:09
    am

    I’ll be canning tomatoes today, too. And probably once a week for awhile.
    I’ve started my late garden, so I have high hopes for green beans and pickles.

  5. 9-2
    5:17
    am

    I never can before. But you make it sound fun and easy. I do like to freaze foods. And this year I will use my dehydrator. Just need to dig it out. Going to dehydrate some fruits, and veggies like you did. :) If we get tomatoes in my garden I might try my hand at canning those. But I got my garden in late and did not get much this year. There is always next year. Or the farmers market to visit.

  6. 9-2
    5:32
    am

    :sun: What a inspiration you are!! Does your family know how lucky they are??
    Hugs From Pa.

  7. 9-2
    5:51
    am

    Is there anything more satisfying than a good harvest? I don’t think so!

    How are your sheep? They have not been featured lately. Is everyone OK?

  8. 9-2
    5:59
    am

    Morning Suzanne,
    I’ve never heard of produce protector…where would I find some of that? Also, are you able to just thaw your peaches and eat them plain..as you would with canned peaches or are the best used in pies and cobblers (like blueberries)?
    Inquiring minds need to know..
    Beth

  9. 9-2
    6:04
    am

    All of the sheep are fine! I’ll make sure to take some new pics of them soon. I’ve been spending too much time in the kitchen to get down to the meadow with my camera lately!

  10. 9-2
    6:06
    am

    Produce protector prevents browning of fresh-cut fruit. You can get it at a lot of stores–I got mine at Wal-Mart, in the canning aisle. What I have is made by Ball and is called Fruit Fresh. You can use peaches frozen this way in just about anything you might want to bake, or just spoon it over ice cream or pancakes, etc.

  11. 9-2
    6:11
    am

    WOW!! What you just described is exactly what I want to do in the future. I have already taught myself how to can (water bath method so far) and have put up jams, etc. I challenge myself each season to can another type of item. I plan to start gardening next spring and learn all about that. Just the other day I was saying to my husband that my dream was to have a large garden and to then can all the wonderful proceeds of said garden. He is very supportive. Very exciting and fulfilling stuff!

  12. 9-2
    6:14
    am

    I am bookmarking this post for when I need a huge pick me up. I had another interview yesterday and the both of them fell off their chair when they saw my stack of certificates and degrees–still ‘we will let you know one way or the other in 2 or 3 weeks.’ Keep your fingers crossed!

  13. 9-2
    6:33
    am

    Now THAT’s keeping it real Suzanne !
    Pressure canners are wonderful! And yes, they also use less water so they are doubly efficient.

    Dede

  14. 9-2
    6:46
    am

    I’m with ya….only my preservation overload is APPLES APPLES APPLES.
    I’m drying, freezing, and trying to figure out a way to let them sit in the basement after picking. Does anyone have any ideas???? I’ve never had good luck; I’ve tried individually wrapping them and then layering in a big box—they just got soft.

    If anyone is in Iowa, come get apples!! :yes:

  15. 9-2
    6:52
    am

    I’m exhausted just reading all that you have done! I love seeing all that you do. You do it all so well!

  16. 9-2
    6:55
    am

    I am right there with you Suzanne! It’s tomatoes and apples for me today. I also need to freeze some of the billions of peppers that I have been bombarded with!

    My chickens also love my tomato scraps. I love to see one grab a tomato peel and run around the chicken yard being chased by 10 more that haven’t realized there’s a big pile by the gait!

  17. 9-2
    7:16
    am

    If you have enough room in the freezer you could freeze your tomatoes until you have time to can them. I freeze mine and then the skin peels right off. Then I make sauce with them. 3 gallon ziplocks of Amish Paste tomatoes makes one batch of sauce. You could try it once and see how it goes. One batch makes about 4 quarts of sauce.

  18. 9-2
    8:38
    am

    I truly love your blog – my daughter Melissa shared it with me and I am so glad – what a blessing! Gives me something to reflect about too! Great post!

  19. 9-2
    9:16
    am

    Our garden came in really early this year, so we have just about finished our canning, but we so much tomatoes, cucumbers and beans that we are kinda sick of canning right now. We also canned a bunch of peaches. Now I am just waiting for apples to come to my farmers market so that I can get some apples to put up. We have canned and/or frozen, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zuchinni,grean beans, corn, strawberrries, bluesberries, blackberries and peaches.
    The last 4 we made jam’s out of as well. But at least we have things stored up for the winter. And yes it is all very tiring..but worth it in the end.

  20. 9-2
    9:40
    am

    This truly is a wonderful time of year for canning and harvesting. I wish I had more time – all I ever get accomplished are my mom’s old-fashioned sweet dill pickles, fruit relish (a mixture of tomatoes, peaches and pears), tomatoes, zucchini relish – all staples at our house! I also like to can pork sausage and stewing beef – nothing compares to the flavour and the convenience of these canned meats. I was raised on a mixed farm with 7 siblings and my mother canned and froze EVERYTHING! She was a fabulous cook and I am attempting to gather her recipes to make a family cookbook. We grew up in a loving Amish home where the food was always delicious, home-made and plentiful. Suzanne – you inspire me and remind me of that good old-fashioned cooking!!! I am due to retire one of these years and hope to get back at some of these basics! Keep up the good work…..I read your blog everyday!

  21. 9-2
    10:36
    am

    Your pictures today made me smile. Even though I live in the city I look forward to reading your website everyday. Its nice to see all the wonderful things that have grown and canned over the summer. I still want to learn how to can. I asked my 85 yr old mother yesterday if she remembers how to can and she said, “Yes, what do you want to do that for.” I told her I have been wanting to learn for a long time to save food for all year. I remember her canning with 7 kids under foot when I was little. I think she forgot how fun it can be. I have to buy all the equipment then she will help me. Anyway, your website is delightful.

  22. 9-2
    10:54
    am

    and i think to myself, what a wonderfull world………….

    hugs
    gwen

  23. 9-2
    11:38
    am

    My tomotatoes did nothing this year and those that ripen are being eaten by critters.

    I remember when I was a kid and my mom spent the end of summer canning endlessly. Tomatoes, green beans, beets, jalapenos. Great memories.

  24. 9-2
    12:17
    pm

    You are an inspiration to all of us. I look forward to what you are doing everyday!! You are the greatest!! My Mom canned all kinds of vegetables and fruits in the summer. I remember helping w/the peaches and the satisfaction when they were on the shelves in the basement. I am canning tomatoes and peaches today. Just love to read your blog everyday, keep up the good work.
    Janie from Idaho

  25. 9-2
    1:23
    pm

    Suzanne – Last night I made come yummy Pizza Sauce. My newest shortcut is cleaning, coreing and putting the tomatoes through my food processor–thick slices, then into the kettle to bring to a boil. The smaller pieces cook more quickly and are much easier to press through the colander. Just a suggestion. I haven’t blanched one tomatoe this season with this process.

    The recipe in the Ball Blue Book of Canning has a nicely seasoned Tomatoe Sauce.

  26. 9-2
    1:53
    pm

    I really enjoy your stories!
    Spent the morning canning green beans from our garden.

  27. 9-2
    2:20
    pm

    Love your blog – I’m so glad I subscribed! You’re living the life I’m planning to have… eventually. :)

  28. 9-2
    4:57
    pm

    What do you do with your dehydrated peach pitts? We live in Middle Georgia, right next door to Peach County, and were always told they contained arsenic and were poisonous. Other than carving little tiny baskets out of them, I’ve never heard of them being of much use to the average housewife. We are terribly, terribly interested, probably won’t sleep at all tonight. Can barely wait to hear your reply.

  29. 9-2
    5:14
    pm

    I use peach pits for potpourri.

  30. 9-2
    8:48
    pm

    You must have a very large threshing crew.

  31. 9-3
    6:36
    am

    We just blanche the tomatoes and shove them into the cans to prep for canning in the pressure canner. No peeling or coring here. I know some people don’t like tomato peels. It all goes into the blender for sauce.

  32. 9-3
    7:53
    am

    You make we work harder and play harder!! Thank you…. I have a very similar life to yours I don’t know how to blog it though, it would be interesting too… I got 3 new jacob sheep yesterday::
    oooh I just love them Vodoo, and Hocus and Pocus!!! Made bread and butter pickles! Keep up the great job we LOVE you!

  33. 9-3
    9:13
    am

    Thanks, we are feeling better now

  34. 9-3
    12:44
    pm

    What a busy time at the farm, how fun and exhausting! I was wondering why you are not making peach jelly with the peach skins, is that even possible? I don’t really know much about making jelly or jam for that matter.

  35. 9-3
    1:14
    pm

    You can make peach peel jelly! There’s a recipe here:
    http://chickensintheroad.com/forum/just-recipes/peach-peel-jelly/

    I made a bunch of peach jam last year and I still have some, so I’m doing other stuff with peaches this year. Same reason I’m not making apple butter this year–I made a bunch last year and don’t need more right now so I’m doing other stuff with apples this year. I love trying new things!

  36. 9-3
    1:23
    pm

    Oh thanks for pointing me in the right direction! I have 2 peach trees and would love to make some jelly with next year’s harvest. We ate them fresh and also in a cobbler this year. Nothing like growing your own food, as you very well know. YUM!!!

  37. 9-27
    11:30
    am

    I oooh sooo envy you your lifestyle.. That is how i want to live… but my husband and kids are definitely not on the same page as I!!

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