It seems so many of my posts these past few months have been recipes or garden notes. I'm sorry to those of you who aren't into gardening or canning. One thing that is important while keeping a garden is to record one's thoughts so as to better plan for next year. It's easy to forget which things were a great idea to plant and which were a bust.
I have found canning to be an enjoyable way to spend time and an easy way to put food away for the cooler months. This summer I canned pickles using cucumbers from our garden. I'd like to plant the same number of cucumber plants next year. Nine plants gave us plenty of cukes over a long season. We had plenty for pickles and enough to enjoy sliced.
We also canned hot hungarian wax peppers as well as banana peppers. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I (over) bought pepper seedlings this year. I think I bought twenty plants too many. I have canne many dozens of pints of pepper rings and I still have about a hundred peppers still growing in mid September. Today, I canned a dozen more pints and I decided that's it. No more pepper rings! While they are delicious on barbeque pork sandwiches or with a burger, one can only can so many peppers over the course of a year. I even made and froze some split down the middle, filled with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. Those can be broiled like poppers and served as an appetizer. The rest that are growing outside are being put in a basket on a table in the front yard and someone else can deal with them. :)
Did I show you my new cupboard? I know I showed it to Kim, (who is likely the only person reading this, I think :). I needed some extra cupboard space in the kitchen so I thought this freestanding shabby chic piece would do the trick. It was originally painted red and then repainted white and distressed. There is red toile fabric in the open shelving and I just love it. Right now I have some of my recently canned foods inside as well as drawers full of table linens. It is from my favorite store (quite possibly ever) called Off Center. You can find them on Facebook. (Though I am no longer on Facebook. I found it to be such a downer that sucked the life out of me.)
Now that I see the picture so large, I remember the tomatoes. Next year I am only planting cherry tomatoes. They seem to be the only kind that my family will eat raw. I ended up canning a full bushel of roma tomatoes so I can make spaghetti and pizza sauce as well as soups and chili throughout the winter. I think I have about 30 quart jars.
Do you see those few jars of brightly colored peaches? My friend Nicole cans 50-60 quarts of peaches each year so she has one quart for each week. I had never canned peaches until this summer and now I wish I had made as many as she did. I bought one crate of peaches for $12 and got 13 quarts of canned peaches from it. Cut in halves, each jar contains about 8 whole peaches. So economical and completely delicious at less than a dollar a jar! Next summer, I'd like to do several crates. It was fun to do them with my friend and made the process go much more quickly.
Last week the kids and I made concord grape jam. That is a very time consuming process but I'm glad we did it. Not sure if we'll do it every year but it was fun for a change. We picked the grapes at a local orchard.
The dusty color of concord grapes is unmistakable.
The kids spent quite some time squeezing the skins from the grapes.
The kids have eaten two jars already so I doubt the jam will last all winter!
I am looking for an upright freezer on Craigslist. We have enough produce that a freezer would be a good investment. I have frozen many quarts of green beans, several bags of chopped peppers and onions and many bags of shredded zucchini. Looking forward to zucchini bread in the cool months ahead.
Thanks to those of you who've read all the way to the end of this post. Should be one of the last canning posts unless I can find on some apples for sauce. All of our local orchards lost 90% of their crops this year to late frost. So apple prices are sky high and there are very few orchards nearby that have any apples for "pick your own". Still, hoping I will get my hands on a few.
In the meantime, have a lovely second half of the week and thanks for visiting!