Friday, September 18, 2009

Putting up the harvest

As the growing season is winding down, I'm realizing I didn't do much preserving yet this year. I blame that mostly on the fact that many crops were late or unproductive (Late Blight on the tomatoes anyone?). Meanwhile, other crops like asparagus and raspberries are only just getting established, and some are getting a reboot due to dead plants (like the cherry trees), so for these there won't be enough to save for a few years yet.

Here's the most raspberries I've picked at one time. Of the 10 plants I put in (5 red, 5 yellow), one of each color died off (either deer or Doogie uprooted the plants and left them in the lawn), and then only one of the reds has decided to flower/fruit this year. There may not be MANY of them, but they ARE tasty!

New discovery - like many other veggies and fruits, Doogie's learned he LOVES raspberries. I actually busted him helping himself a couple times. Now I think I've curbed that, or maybe he's just not noticing there are more fruit on rare occasion because they're few and far between. Or maybe it's because I occasionally voluntarily feed him one or he doesn't feel the need to hunt them down himself?

Here's the first tomatillo harvest - I picked these a couple weeks ago, and made a non-roasted tomatillo salsa with them last week. (Sorry, no pics of the finished product) I'm not a big fan of peeling the papery husks off and washing them because there's a thin sticky/tacky film in there that's REALLY gross and hard to wash off. The salsa turned out great - surprisingly citrusy! And it was really easy - just throw everything in a pot and boil, then blend, then can. I have more tomatillos ready for picking (some have already dropped to the ground) - and I want to try a different recipe where you roast them before cooking together - this is supposed to make a different flavored salsa.

And then for $15.95 I bought a peck of prune plums from Kriegers a couple weekends ago and made plum jelly. Previously I'd made jelly with all black plums - those bigger ones you expect to eat out of hand. These little guys were MUCH smaller, and so there were many more of them, which meant LOTS more to clean and cut open!

That same day I also bought a box of "really soft/blemished" tomates for $1.99... I wanted to make a batch of Aunt Nadine's salsa, only the garden really hasn't put out enough tomatoes. I had generous gifts of tomatoes from former co-worker Betsy (most of which I ate raw!) and from George down the street, but I still worried I didn't have 20 lbs, so I bought some extras...

Here's all the plums - washed, halved, and ready for a little cooking...

And after they've cook maybe 15 minutes:

While the plums cooked down, I was busy washing, de-blemishing, and slicing tomatoes. The tomato halves/quarters got packed together on a sheet pan for the freezer. Once frozen, their skins slide of much easier without needing to blanch them (what a pain in the ass!). I had a bunch of plum tomatoes (Roma) from the garden, which is what the longer/narrower ones are that you see here. Turns out they just weren't all that great this year - even after freezing, their skins didn't come off well, and they seemed sort of mealy.

Once the plums cooked down, they were dumped into a cheesecloth-lined colander (a BIG colander) and set over a pot (a BIG pot) to drain overnight. I ended out getting enough juice for 2 1/2 batches of jelly - so about 17 1/2 cups of juice - MUCH more than I expected! No complaints there though - I LOVE plum jelly, and it's nice to have a little extra to share.

BTW - this cooked down glop, when dumped into the compost? MAJOR yellow jacket attractor!

Once all the salsas were made and canned and cooled, it was time to label them. I still LOOOOOVE my label maker - so wonderful! And since it lets me use such small (yet still legible) print, I put in extra notes like "used blue prune plums" and "non-roasted tomatillos" on the labels - that way when I open a jar NEXT YEAR I'll remember what went in it!

Here's all the jars of finished product. Every jar lid "popped" (sealed) - so that's a good thing! Some of them were popping RIGHT after I put them on the counter, even as I was getting more of the same stuff out of the canning water - that's fast! Once they cooled off completely, they all got wiped down, had their lids tightened a little more, and labeled. (PS Ignore the messy counter!)


Andy said...

Your kitchen looks like our kitchen - canning stuff EVERYWHERE!

Kris said...

Hey Jeph. I keep either dried grass clippings or chopped leaves or even a pile of pulled weeds next to the compost pile. Then, when I dump in fruit scraps or cooked food, I cover it all with a couple of inches of the dry stuff. Keeps the yellow jackets and hornets from finding the juicy stuff. Also the moisture from the kitchen scraps then help break down the dry stuff (clippings, leaves, weeds, etc.). Works every time here...