Thursday, August 11, 2016

August Garden: Filling Jars

Today it was "sort" of raining.  Not sunny.  Not dry. Muggy.  Damp.  A good day to stay in the kitchen and "Preserve" things.  My grandmother called it "canning".

I literally spent the day in the classic triangle of my kitchen.  The sink, the island, the stove. No fridge needed.  I washed jars, filled the canning kettle, measured sugar out of the brand new 10 pound bag, vinegar from the gallon jug.  Sliced vegetables for the pickles with the mandolin type slicer. I didn't try using the Japanese slicer.  The blade looked wicked sharp.

I made bread and butter pickles first with the veg I had sliced and salted on Sunday.  Heated the canning kettle, boiled the jars and then filled them and processed them for 10 minutes.  I love hearing the lids "click" as they cool on the island top.  Then I sliced up another batch of zucchini (yellow and green), red and orange peppers, onions, garlic and salt and set it in the fridge for three hours.

Next up: blueberries.  I crushed 6 cups worth (and then added some more), added pectin, and brought the juicy mess up to the boil and then added 6 cups of sugar.  Hard for me to do.  I am frugal.  Six cups seems like way too much.  When it had "boiled hard" for one minute, I took the pan off the heat and scooped blueberries into hot jars (they went in after the pickles came out) and then processed the jam jars.

I stopped in-between the pickles and blueberry jam to wash everything and look for more jars.  Then wash the jars etc.

After the blueberry jam-- OMG was that stuff amazingly good!!!  I licked the plate I had sitting under the jars while I filled them---  I started on the strawberry rhubarb jam.  Strawberries (Maine local berries) were frozen but I own a Vitamix.  So, they went in in small batches and the resulting strawberry slushy went into the pan with a quart freezer bag of sliced rhubarb from my garden.  More sugar.  Five and a half cups.  I wondered why I hadn't used the Vitamix to crush the blueberries.  Head slap.

By now it was a bit after 5.  I started at 12:43.  So, onward to the second batch of zucchini pickles.

I, literally, never sat down.  I also took a few moments to vacuum the kitchen as I was barefoot and I wanted the floor to be a bit cleaner than it was.

Was it worth it?  Yes!  I only had to haul that huge kettle onto and off the stove once each way and I ended up with a dozen jars of pickle, 5 pints of blueberry jam, and five pints of strawberry rhubarb.
And there is so much more room in the porch freezer now.  There is half a bag of blueberries which will be made into some sort of muffins or cake tomorrow. Lots more zucchini that I should be slicing and frying up into one of the Plan recipes I actually enjoyed eating.  And the garden is really full of kale right now.  I need to start eating it.  Or drinking it.  Blueberry, kale smoothie?  I think the one in the Elimination Diet has pineapple, blueberry, kale in one of their green smoothies.  So, I need pineapple.  I do have frozen mango---- wonder if that would work?

Next up will be those blackberries.  When they are all ripe, picked and frozen.  The fig jam will be the last thing I can.  I make boozy cranberries in November but the cognac keeps them safe in the fridge all Winter long. Well, as long as they last.

I do not can tomatoes.  Ever.  I roast them and freeze the resulting "sauce" in quart bags.  Use as needed until next summer.

I am really "into" retirement suddenly.  Up really late (into the early hours of the am) and sleeping until 11:30.  Bad habits I have missed.  Yes, I woke up at 11:30 and started canning stuff at 12:43.