Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Canning Strawberries

In an attempt to move away from preserving fruit only in the form of jam, I've been buying and juicing lemons to make strawberry lemonade concentrate.

Par for the course, the yield was lower than predicted in the book (5 pints and 1 1/2 pint instead of 6 pints).  My stick (immersion) blender that was such a labor saver in making the tomato sauce saved me more dishes again. Ah, I am really glad I have it!  I like that the bulk of the seeds have migrated to the top, as that should make them easy to skim off when I'm ready to reconstitute it.  We have a few delicious possibilities for these jars: use for freezer pops, cold juice in the summer, or mixed with ginger ale or tonic water for a more exciting drink.

Then, because I was going to be heating the canner anyway, I decided to make batch of strawberry vanilla jam.  Next year, I'll try the strawberry balsamic jam, and the next year, I'll try lemony strawberry jam.  It's easy to buy plain jam in the store, so I might as well use my time to make more creative jams.  8 pints (the suggested yield) of delicious jam are now waiting eating and gifting this winter!

All of the strawberries were picked/purchased in the spring, cut up in the appropriate measure for the recipe, and frozen.  Except for the little excitement of a river of thawing strawberry juice on the kitchen floor this morning, freezing the strawberries pre-measured was a great time saver today.  Probably not next year, but the year after we hope to have a large enough strawberry bed to provide our own berries!

Still on the docket for canning, I'll make blueberry jam and blueberry lime jam.  Just not today, or tomorrow either!

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tomato Sauce and a Laundry Line

Yesterday, in an effort to use up some tomatoes and not have to freeze them, I canned tomato sauce for the first time.  Out of maybe 20 pounds, I now have 7 pints and 2 1/2 pints of tomato sauce.  Yum!

 We moved into our new house without a dryer.  One is coming, eventually, but in the meantime, I've made do with a drying rack.  Unfortunately (and fortunately), the fall winds are arriving, and small things (like cloth napkins) flutter off the line as soon as they are mostly dry.  Also, we had a brief bout with a stomach bug, and there's no good way to wash multiple sets of bedding and set them out to dry without a new laundry line.

James, so kindly, dug the hole for a new laundry line.  I'm looking forward to using it tomorrow!

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


20 pounds of peaches (this is half of them!)

Add-ins for salsa

Cutting boards for me and my helper

7 pints of peach salsa

Monday, August 6, 2012

Canning Adventures

Belatedly, as this took place in early July...
Cucumbers shredded for relish

Onions cleaned, to be diced for relish
Dye for lime pickles

First round of cherries being washed.  36 lbs total

Various pitting tools...
We broke the spring-loaded pitter, and in the breaking decided how we would completely redesign it.
By the end, we were pretty efficient with knives.

No words...

My first canning casualty, it exploded promptly on being placed in the canner.
What a sticky mess!

End of the day...
Many, many jars of sweet cherries in light syrup
One batch of lime pickles
One batch of relish.

Onions were grown at Purgatory Ranch.  Pickles came from our in town garden or (mostly) from our good friends.

With gratitude to the friends who picked up the cherries, cut the onions, and pitted the lion's share of cherries (this includes James!), I declare we had a successful canning day, even for the two pregnant women involved.

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