Friday, September 26, 2014

Canning Marathon

    Linda has been away visiting grandchildren in Oregon for the past week.  I had to stay home and mind the bee store and take care of other obligations.  I've been taking advantage of Linda's absence to try to satisfy my urges to can.  Those urges seem strongest in the late summer and early fall as I see so much produce from the garden that I can't stand to see wasted.  The main things I'm working on at the moment are green beans, grapes and tomatoes.

      I've been canning a batch of green beans about every three days for the past two weeks. I think I'm up to about three dozen pints so far.  They're not really all that difficult. I usually prepare them while watching TV. The actually canning requires some attention to keep the pressure canner at the right temperature, but green beans in pint jars only require twenty minutes at ten pounds. That is a piece of cake compared to canning meat or fish. Most vegetables I prefer to eat fresh, but I like the green beans better canned.  Last year I tried my hand at pickling green beans. I liked them, but Linda didn't seem to care for them.  I take the pickled beans to work occasionally for lunch. This year I'm back to canning green beans.

    We've given away a lot of tomatoes this summer but their production is reaching a climax. Now I have way too many to foist onto unsuspecting friends.  Last year I made ketchup in order to use up the big bulge in production that happens at the end of the season.  I was happy with how it turned out, but I ended up with about a three year supply.  This year I decided to try my hand at making salsa. We generally go through a lot more salsa than we do ketchup.  We have a Norpro Saucemaster which made quick work turning twenty pounds of tomatoes into six quarts of tomato juice and pulp. I didn't have to blanche and peel the tomatoes. I just had to core them and cut them into small enough pieces so they would fit into the hole at the bottom of the hopper. I turned the crank and watched the skins come out the end of the machine while the juice and pulp flowed into the pan.
A year's supply of salsa

    The grapes on the other hand,  are very easy.  I use a steamer juicer to process the grapes. Its about the easiest canning task I do every year.  I have four varieties of grapes represented in my eight grape vines.  I usually get close to ten gallons of grape juice from them.  That ten gallons actually represents about twenty gallons of juice to drink as it is way too strong to drink it just as it comes from the juicer.  I dilute it with an equal amount of water and then add a bit of sugar to get the taste right.  I think my favorite part of canning grape juice is the wonderful aroma that permeates the house.
Canadice Grapes ready for the steamer juicer
Transparent grape juice fresh from the steamer juicer
The same jar of grape juice an hour later

    Many years ago when I was taking French in high school, I was told that studying French would be useful some day. That day finally came.  I needed to add some elevation to the quart jars I was filling with grape juice. As you can see in the photo below my Larousse French Dictionary filled the bill nicely.  I'm actually still working on learning French. Its partly to atone for the only D grade I ever got in junior high or high school. Now I'm using several different apps on my iPhone.  I figured that I'm up to a 1,000 word vocabulary but that doesn't get me very far when I try to read something in French.
A thick French dictionary put to good use

The steamer juicer works its magic
     Another canning project involved a gift of crap apples from Terry Johnson.  He had brought some pickled crab apples by the bee store for me to try. I thought they were wonderful, so he then gave me a bag of crab apples so I could make my own.  He dictated the recipe while I hastily scrawled it onto a yellow sticky note.  I've provided it below for any crab apple lovers who might read this.

                                  Pickled Crab Apples

Brine Ingredients:
    3 cups vinegar
    3 cups water
    6 cups sugar
    1 1/2 tablespoon whole allspice
    1 1/2 tablespoon  cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks, broken into small pieces

Combine the vinegar, water, and sugar in a pan with the spices added in a spice bag.  Boil the brine for five minutes then reduce to a simmer.  While this is happening, pierce each crab apple through with a long needle, then add the crabapples in batches to the simmering brine just long enough for them to become tender. Leave the stems on the crab apples. Let the brine cool. Then add the tenderized crab apples back to the brine and allow them to soak overnight. The following day, remove the crab apples from the brine and put them into pint jars. Bring the brine to a boil and pour it over the crab apples leaving a quarter inch head space.  I then processed them in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. This recipe made seven pints. I didn't measure out the quantity of crab apples that were in the bag Terry gave me. However, it was just the right amount to do seven pints of pickled crab apples.
Mr. Johnson's Pickled Crab Apples

No comments:

Post a Comment