Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In the Kitchen: Canning Time

One of things keeping me busy these days is the gardens. Well, not so much the gardens as what is coming out of them. While I hate the summer heat, I love seeing the produce that provides food for us for the better part of the year.

It's high harvest time for our summer gardens. Tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, potatoes, onions, and so on have been making their way to the kitchen by the basketsful for the past few weeks.

Which means:

Vegetable soup, 16 quarts now completed. In the pot,

and in the jars.

Onions, dehydrated and stored. We're trying this method this year, as we seem to lose so many stored onions to rot. I've also tried freezing them, but it's difficult to keep them from smelling up the whole freezer. So we'll see how we do with the dried ones. This is about 2 bushels of mixed yellow, white and red onions--they sure take up a lot less room this way.

Pasta sauce, 16 quarts so far and I am hoping for more before the tomatoes give up. They looked so pretty in the pan prior to cooking down!

They've done well but the heat and humidity have made it touch-and-go as far as the various blights, etc that might attack. So far so good, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. We've had our best crops from the German Pink and the Cherokee Purple so far. We also planted Mortgage Lifter but have had only a few tomatoes from them so far.

Broccoli, about a dozen bags so far. The plants continue to produce although the flowerettes are getting smaller and smaller. Larry has taken good care of these plants and we're hoping they'll make it through to cooler weather and continue to produce.

Cabbage: we grew a half dozen heads of Late Flat Dutch, to make sauerkraut. When they were ready last week, we spent hours "butchering" them, as I call it, because they were so huge! We used 4 of them to make 8 quarts of kraut--there was a good bit of waste due to bug and slug damage--and the chickens enjoyed the last two because we were worn out with working on them. It would not have been so bad but we did those after putting up ten quarts of corn.

Corn has been excellent but now the raccoons have found the patch so we won't get much more. We have 20 quarts put up so I am satisfied. The first raccoon damage was only about 5 ears, but the next night they had a party out there. My friend John Rushing of western Virginia has a theory that the first coon goes home with sweet corn on his breath and the others smell it and make him bring them all back the next night! I think he's got something there. Larry was so determined to finish up the last wagonload that he worked under an umbrella in the rain.

I've also frozen 20 bags of shredded zucchini to add to soups, stews, chili, and to make zucchini bread. This is a new venture too, something I've not tried before but I am hoping this will turn out to be a good way to preserve the zucchini bounty.

I've tried freezing squash but don't like the texture when I've used them. I've also tried dehydrating them and pickling. The pickled zucchini is very good but we can only eat so much of it! So I am hoping this frozen puree will be worth the trouble. I also ground up zucchini and added it to pasta sauce which I canned. I think this is going to be great in casseroles this winter.

And lastly, we got a little bit of garlic this year. I want to focus on this more next year and perhaps figure out a better place to plant it. These were wildlings that had seeded themselves in my flowerbeds.

Our second planting is coming on: late beans, corn, squash, carrots and onions seem to be thriving. Pumkpins and melons are doing well too, but it will be September before we taste our first melon. Ah well.

We still need to plant the fall greens, and I hope we can get to that in the next week or so. We have the seeds ready, just waiting to get the potatoes dug and a few other things pulled out and the ground tilled.

Two things that are different this year: I have made no jam or jelly yet. We've frozen a lot of berries and have been eating them fresh, but with so much jam still in the cellar, we really just don't need any more. Kinda makes me sad because I love to make it, but it's just silly to make what we don't need. I have yet to put up any pickles, either. The first cucumber plants turned out to be those long burpless once and they have done terribly. The Chicago Picklers are just now starting to come on, so later this week I'm pretty sure I'll be pickling.

Overall it's been a good garden year, partly due to having a lot of rain, partly due to the horse manure Larry spread last winter and to the fact that he has mulched most of the garden this year. He has really become a good gardener and I leave it to him anymore because he really enjoys it and I can see it's good for him--he relaxed when he's messing around out there.

So what's going on in your garden? Good year or bad one? Surprises or disappointments? Do tell!

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Jenny said...

I was talking to my neighbor this morning & asked her if she was getting very many tomatoes...not one...me either. :( The squirrels have over-run our little community & eat everything.

We had a family of foxes move into our woods last winter & I was so excited, hoping they'd help control the squirrel population. Then I learned that another neighbor is feeding them! So much for being motivated to hunt squirrel.

we haven't been able to grow any tomatoes for about 5 yrs now. It is so frustrating & I've tried many things. I am not very handy with tools or I'd build a frame of heavy wire over my raised beds to help protect them.

I was going to the farmer's market to buy but $5 for 3 or 4 tomatoes is just way more than I want to pay.

Granny Sue said...

That's terrible, Jenny! I didn't know that squirrels would eat tomatoes. It does sound like a wire cage is your only option. Our dogs, bless them, keep us mostly critter-free because they chase them off. Except for that one squirrel who gets into the bird feeder. He keeps us trying new ideas

Michelle said...

You all will be eating well this winter. We have a small garden and have been enjoying some fresh produce.

Quinn said...

I am in awe of all your putting-up! Winter looks a lot friendlier when you've got full canning jars lined up. Sorry the raccoons found your corn, though.
Pole beans were meant to be my big crop this year, but the plants struggled so much I now feel lucky that I'm getting enough for a meal every day. I'm just starting to see Asian Long cucumbers from the Sow True Seeds - don't know if I'll have enough to pickle, but with the recent rain they may get "long" as advertised, so maybe!

Granny Sue said...

I think the rain has hurt a lot of gardens this year--it brings on the slugs, the bugs and the blight! We have never had luck with pole beans, Quinn. Well, except one year we had some rattlesnake beans that were awesome. But I've never found the seeds again.

Granny Sue said...

I think that's the very best part of having a garden, Michelle, and we've been doing a lot better this year with eating fresh since I've been home more this summer. It's a trend I'd like to continue, even though I really do enjoy traveling. I miss a lot of summer most years and this year it's been nice to be here to take full advantage of he garden. The heat though has kept me inside a lot. I am no fan of hot weather, and that's gotten even more true the older I get.

Brig said...

I miss having a garden, the lot dad's house sets on is not designed or landscaped for gardening...
Your putting by is awesome. Where do you get the energy?

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