Apples with dried cherries and raisins, in syrup. Canned outside on my new grill with a burner!
In the past several weeks, I’ve put away 12 quarts peppers, 10 quarts peaches, 8 quarts and 10 pints apples, 1 quart nectarines, 1 quart cream-style corn (need MUCH more corn! I haven’t been paying attention to that!), 4 quarts dried zucchini chips, 2 quarts dried squash chips, 4 quarts eggplant slices, 12 quarts dried potpourri apple slices/peels/cores, 10 quarts dried potpourri peach slices/peels/pits, 8 quarts apples, 10 pints hot pepper butter, 10 pints sweet pickle relish, 6 pints cucumber chips, 6 pints sweet pickle slices, 8 pints salsa, 18 quarts green beans, 1 quart blackberries in syrup, and I’m up to a total of 35 quarts tomatoes.
Quart is such a weird word.
This constitutes my summer preserving (so far, but I’m far from done). There was a spring canning with strawberries and other things I can’t even remember now unless I go inspect the pantry. Which is far too scary, so not goin’ there. And there are still other things to come in the fall–pumpkins, gourds, horseradish, etc. (Don’t make me think! I’m writing this post on Saturday night after I got home on Friday night at 2:18 AM from picking up my son from an away football game. After standing on my feet in the kitchen all day. Which I twittered. Do you follow me on Twitter? Occasionally, I actually remember to twitter…. I apologize for the weeks at a stretch that I forget. I’m working on that. Maybe I’ll get Clover to twitter. She seems to have a lot of spare time…. I’m tired. CAN YOU TELL? I also apologize if I owe you an email. Or a book. Or a copy of my sewing machine manual–you know who you are! I swear, I have NOT forgotten! These things haunt me. I will get back to you asap.) And I’ve got to get the cold frame put back together. I’m ready for fresh lettuce! (Does anyone have any rhubarb to share for planting in the spring, by the way? I need rhubarb….)
Some of the fruit I’ve preserved this summer is temporarily frozen, awaiting time to can it into delicious treats. Fruits and vegetables will continue coming in for a few more weeks, then it will all be gone.
Much of what is already canned isn’t put away. It’s lined up and stacked up on my dining room table and kitchen counters waiting until I can stop long enough to reorganize my pantry and get more shelves in. My goal right now is to get as much food, fresh and free, stored up for the year ahead, including Christmas presents. Many things I’ve made and will be making with what I’ve preserved is headed for neat recipes I’ll can when I have more time. Recipes like peach conserve with rum, apple chutney, nectarine chutney, apple-maple jam, and one I just had to can right away–rustic apples with dried cherries and golden raisins in a cinnamon-nutmeg syrup. YUM.
(It was rustic because the recipe called for leaving the apple peelings on. Gotta love a recipe that doesn’t want you to peel.)
Want the recipe? It’s based on a recipe from Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I modified it some and I’ll post about it tomorrow….. I don’t mean to be a tease, but I’m tired, a good tired, too tired to write a recipe. I did re-do my how-to-can in a hot water bath post, so go take a look at that so I’ll feel as if I did something useful. I wanted to re-do it because it’s a post I refer to often and the photos in it were terrible. I’m not a photographer and I don’t pretend to be one, but I realize I’ve learned at least something about photography whenever I look back at older posts and cringe. (Forgive me, I knew not what I did. I still don’t, but I’m better at not knowing what I’m doing now. Progress!) I’m also planning to do a post on pressure canning soon to encourage those of you still afraid. Be not afraid! I will take you by the hand. Soon.
AND ALSO…. I want to make a note in this post about free stuff–everything I’ve put away this year was free. Did you know there’s a world of free produce available? This is not for everyone and I want to make that clear. But, if you happen to be someone who is both willing and able (with the time and energy) to get free food–here’s how.
I preserve food from my garden. I also preserve some goodies I get from the old farmhouse garden. (Georgia’s garden.) But that’s not enough. I get more from the farmers market. For free. Make friends with farmers at the farmers markets near you. Go regularly so they know they can count on you and what days to expect you. Offer them a service–take away their old produce. This saves them some trouble at the end of a long day of tending their vendor booth. But, you can’t be picky. You have to take whatever they throw in the boxes and buckets they want taken away. Don’t expect them to give you stuff they can sell (i.e. perfect stuff). They’re going to toss away blemished produce and produce that is on the verge of over-ripe. And even some stuff that is downright rotten. You have to take it all–then go home and sort it. (It helps if you have pigs and chickens so you can use the excess for feed. It’s also good for composting.) You must be prepared to preserve it within 24-48 hours. You won’t have any longer than that before what is still good goes bad. Often two-thirds of what you take home is unusable. But oh, the stuff that is good! It’s amazing. One bad spot on an apple and they can’t sell it. But you can cut that spot out and have all the apples you want.
Free apples. They looked terrible in the box. After I got done cutting away the bad parts, they were gorgeous.
And they represent another homemade Christmas full of jars of canned goodies.
I’m tired now, but in December when I’m packing up jars of peach conserve and nectarine chutney and apples with cherries and raisins, in baskets sprinkled with dried apple peels, I’m gonna be real happy!
(And hopefully by then RESTED!!!)