Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jam and Jelly

Peach, strawberry, mint, and blueberry.

The peaches are leftover from last year and have been biding their time in the freezer.  In order to use them up, we made a batch of jam.  I think next time we'll blend it more...

Two batches from strawberries we picked this summer.  These have also been waiting use in the freezer, pre-measured and pre-crushed.  It was just TOO HOT this summer to even think about canning.

Three batches of mint jelly that Myle picked and saved.  The mint is the ONLY canning today that didn't gel, and I suspect, in retrospect, that we used too much of the mint liquid.

One batch of blueberries we picked this summer.

It's amazing that we picked/harvested all the fruit included in these beautiful jars.  We filled 37 8-oz. jars and 2 pint jars (we ran out of jelly jars... we didn't realize we would fill so many!  Pint jars aren't recommended for canning jelly or jam, so we'll be popping these in the fridge and consuming them first).  Our goal each year will be to can at least a year's worth of jelly.

One realization we have had is just how much fruit we need to grow to be able to keep up with our kids... dozens of apple trees, gaggles of fruit bushes, hundreds of strawberries... WOAH.  I bought 80 pounds of apples a few weeks ago.  Where did it all go?  I think my kids ate 10 pounds.  Then there were a few pounds of peelings (our kids eat them dried), seeds, etc.  6 pints of apple pie filling.  3 quarts of apple juice.  1 quart of apple leather.  Only 11 quarts of apple sauce, which, when split between two families, is only a few weeks of apple sauce!

So far, the reusable Tattler lids are sealing properly.  Let's see how they work over the next year!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

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Apple Preservation

Start with a "few" pounds of apples...
Use one of these fabulous gadgets (by Norpro... I b ought mine from Pleasant Hill Grain as I love their fast shipping!).

Make it look like this...
and this...

Use a few of these...

And of course, a lot of this...

Our apple pie filling did not gel... Ah, well.  I think I was too impatient.

Our apple sauce is much smoother than last year, but also juicier (you can see the juice at the bottom).

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Harvest

... 3 slips, leftovers from the ranch, produced 17 pounds of sweet potatoes, ranging from a bitty 3 oz. to over 3 pounds!

The Assistant is modeling our largest sweet potato.
Yes, it's dirty.  I don't want to scrape the fragile skin any more.

I think this one is as big as Jimmy's head.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Planting, hacking, and weeding

A week late is better than never, right?
Our garlic was supposed to be planted by Columbus Day, but I forgot.  Then, I received a notification that our Jerusalem artichokes had shipped, and since those were due to be planted at the land too, maybe it was a good thing I forgot.

After school on Tuesday, we packed up and drove to the land, where I marveled at how quickly weeds will grow.

After hacking down the honey locusts attempting to control the drive, we hacked the foot + tall weeds (yes, next year, we'll be planting a cover crop.  Immediately. after. digging. potatoes... speaking of which, we uncovered another 2 pounds).

Then we planted our artichokes, garlic, and tree onions.  I love planting, freshly dug ground, and doing something to further our self-sufficiency goal.

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Canning Adventures

Last week, I picked up my order of 80 pounds of "juice quality" apples from the Azure Standard route.  I love apples for $.50/lb.  What to do with all these fresh goodness?

I prefer to can with Myle, but I wanted to cut down on the four crates of apples hogging the counter space in my kitchen, so...
8 pounds, still cutting

half done cutting!
 I made apple juice.  24 pounds of apples and a chunk of finger later, I have three beautiful quarts of juice.  Do you know what I REALLY want to know?  Why, even when I follow a canning recipe precisely, I have significantly less yield than expected.  This time, I should have had 6 quarts and only have 3.  What am I doing wrong?
Isn't it beautiful?  (Ignore the dirt... there's a pile of tomatoes from the the garden just out of sight!)

Apple leather in progress.
With 56 pounds in my basement, I see lots of applesauce in my future, and I might even branch out and try apple pie filling or some other tasty variation.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Didn't you ever play in the dirt when you were little?

Check out her stance.

Lacking-a-Name Pond
also lacking water

Hard to see, but there's a pesky stump in the middle of the picture.
It had to come out before we could safely drive on our new access point.

See how much trouble we would have been in?
We are grateful to "Uncle" Bruce for loan of his tools and teasing.

After.  Isn't it beautiful?

First use of our new access point to the land.
No more driving over the neighbor's hayfield!

Until next time, remember, this is not paradise.  It's Purgatory Ranch.