Sauce and Pickles

We are settled back into our house now after travel, home repair, illness and babysitting. Life is approaching normalcy, my favorite state of being. The tomatoes are abundant to the point of us not being able to keep up with the eating of them, especially since no cooking has been done in two weeks. Or gardening. The time has come to preserve the bounty for the times ahead when no tomatoes are there for the picking. Using my grandmother’s large roasting pan, the fruits will be cooked into submission in a 425 degree oven for about four hours with the occasional stir.
In addition to the red beauties, green cucumbers are too numerous for salads now. One day the cute little guys are still attached to a flower, but in no time they become fully grown. For the first time we will be attempting canning. Lots of study of recipes, helpful hints and any tips from experienced canners has been done in preparation for the making of pickles. I am terrified of spoiling this lovely produce and/or making my family ill from improperly processed food.
In just a day or two the little baby cuke becomes teenage cuke. For salads he was allowed to become adult cuke, but for the pickles this is the best size.
I always wondered how Martha Stewart could take photos of clusters of fully ripe patio tomatoes. Now I know, you just leave them on the vine until they are falling off ripe. These are red grape. They are pretty against my corian countertop, color Silt, don’t you agree? Are you viewing Christopher C. ? The salt crock was a Christmas gift from the Financier a couple of years ago. I like to use the coarse Celtic Sea Salt and needed a pretty container for it other than the plastic gladware I had been using. Good gift, hon. Thanks.

The large tomatoes are beyond ripe and ready for sauce. These look like Park’s Improved Whopper and Brandywines plus some volunteers of unknown variety. The color is untouched by any photo enhancement programs.

We always have way more of the little ones, but they get made into sauce along with the larger ones. We wash and stem them, add olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic and onions and cook, cook, cook.

Here are the cukes, Straight Eight grown from seed and some weird kind from a big box store. The odd looking ones are being grown in a container and are not satisfactory at all, but will make pickle spears anyway. The Straights are grandpa size, we will do better picking them sooner from now on, I promise.

I went to Walmart and talked to several employees there who can each year. They were very helpful and steered me to the canning section in the seasonal area. Soon Christmas stuff will be there! Anyway, I bought quart and half pint jars, spices, canning salt and a funnel. One thing they told me was to be sure and get the wide mouth jars. They were more expensive, but I was glad to have followed their advice. One thing that would have been helpful that I didn’t buy was the jar lifter. Those babies are HOT after processing and a dishrag did not protect my widdle paws from being burned when lifting them from the pot. Ouch!

The granitewear canning pot came with the jar holding insert. The white vinegar needs to be a 5% solution for proper preserving. Canning salt is better too if you are not using the mixed spice/salt packets. I got a couple of those premixed packs to start off, just to get the hang of the whole process. It is quite involved in the boiling of the jars, the hot liquid and water bath of the filled vessels. I know that many people do not do the processing without any problems and have done it that way for many years, but I am a chicken and the USDA now recommends that processing so that is what we are doing here.

The finished products, six quarts of spicy dills and six half pints of a jalapeno/banana pepper mix. The jars all popped to indicate a seal, but the instructions say to wait 12 to 24 hours to check the lids by pressing on them. If they are indented and have no give and if you can’t pry them off with your fingers, you have pickles. Now for the hardest part, waiting six to eight weeks to eat them. This much time is to allow the flavors to penetrate the vegetables. We shall see if we can wait that long, it is questionable.

Much easier is the freezing of the sauce. After cooling overnight in the fridge, the cooked tomatoes are put in the blender. Then the smoooth sauce is ladled into gladware and placed in the freezer for future pasta, pizza and chili. Yum. Disclosure: A can of tomato paste is added midway to thicken up the sauce. It is not necessary but if you want the finished product to be thicker it needs to be added during roasting.

No rest for the weary however, more tomatoes are on the windowsill and the small ones are again falling off the vines. Where’s that bucket? We need to go out into the garden again for more harvesting. The green beans are huge and will have to be snapped and destringed to be edible. We did manage to make pesto with the lovely basil today also. For dinner we had pizzas with homemade sauce, dollops of homemade pesto, mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and parmesan. A salad of cubed Black Krim tomato and Magda squash in a basalmic vinegarette with a sprinkling of parmesan made for a healthful meal. That is the point of having food in the garden.
Frances

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38 Responses to Sauce and Pickles

  1. Frances, says:

    Hi all. To anyone who is going to comment about how they never process their pickles in a canner, thanks so much for your input, but we are going to always use the canner. Just stubborn like that, Taurus, you know. ;->

  2. Rose says:

    What a bounty you have! I don’t do canning anymore, after an unfortunate incident involving a burned arm–but that was with the old pressure cooker canners. But I don’t blame you for processing the pickles; it’s not worth anyone getting sick.
    Like you, I like to freeze tomato sauce and juice; much easier.

    Glad you are back and everyone well, I hope. You will enjoy all your hard work this winter!

  3. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Frances, I’m in awe of the bounty from your garden! The cherry and grape tomatoes would never make it into sauce here: I’d eat them all as snack! I’ll look forward to hearing how your pickles turn out.

  4. Gail says:

    Frances,
    My mother was a Taurus…both her moon and sun! She was one determined woman.

    I use a salt pig to store my sea salt. Sea salt is the best tasting salt not at all salty! Your sauces look delicious! When’s dinner, we’ll be there, I can bring a salad, I make wonderful salads!

    I must admit, that when I saw the cherry tomatoes I thought exactly the same as Cindy, MCOK…candy, snack food!

    Gail

  5. Roses and Lilacs says:

    Wow, Frances, a lot of work but worth it. I haven’t canned in years. I well remember all the work. My favorite things to can were corn relish, bread and butter pickles and dilled beans. Nothing better.
    Marnie

  6. Frances, says:

    Hi Rose, thanks so much. I was warned about the pressure cooker canner from all the ladies at Walmart, even though they were selling them. Not worth the risk of it exploding they all said. The book I bought said you need to use the pressure cooker for non acidic foods, so those will not be done here.

    Hi Cindy, thanks. We do eat the little tomatoes, but they are too numerous now to eat, you get tired of them after a while, they are easy to throw into the sauce pot and we will enjoy them more this winter. We still have them nearly every day in some form, I love to throw them into any dish.

    Hi Gail, you must know then not to try and change the mind of a taurus, will of steel! HA Pig for salt too, how many pigs do you have? Do you collect them? I will bring you some cherry tomatoes.

    Hi Marnie, thanks. Your canning products sound yummy, especially the corn relish.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    What a busy bee you have been Frances. All those lovely pickles. Yummmm.

  8. DP Nguyen says:

    Oh my! What a huge bounty of tomatoes you have. They look so delicious. I have a canner just like yours! So it’s fun. I hope you have a delicious number of meals this winter. Yum! If my bounty ever gets too excessive, I will also learn how to can my vegetables. But for now, they are getting ripen in small quantities, so eating them is just fun.

  9. Frances, says:

    Hi Lisa, thanks for stopping by. I have been super busy in the garden and elsewhere and hope to settle down soon and just plod along. I was a canning virgin, and am now an old hand. I need to get that jar lifter and gather more stuff to can. Maybe I will go to the farmer's market and see what they have that looks good.

    Hi DP, thanks. Somehow there are always tomatoes for sauce making. This is the first time I have ever even grown cukes, but next year I will plant more, they are easy and prolific. Eating fresh is still the best way to enjoy the fruits of your labors though. ;->

  10. tina says:

    I always hot water bath mine too. These make GREAT gifts for friends and families. Doesn’t look like I’ll be canning-not enough cukes OR tomatoes. But I still have some from last year.:)

  11. Frances, says:

    Hi Tina, thanks for backing me up on that. The mens around here are already wanting to taste them, I will have to go to the farmer’s market to be able to give them as gifts. Maybe we should taste them first, HA!

  12. tina says:

    Nah, they taste great I am sure. When I give mine away for gifts, I always ask for the empty jar back. How cheesy is that? Guess what? I always get them back too! The recipients want more so I guess they are happy with the goods. Yours will be too!

  13. Jane Marie says:

    You have been very busy! You won’t go hungry this year 🙂
    Maybe some day I won’t have a job and I can do all the many things I yearn to do. Sounds like a dream.

  14. artistsgarden says:

    So the Farie Garden is Bountiful and beautiful – how lovely.
    Regards
    Karen

  15. Frances, says:

    Hi Tina, thanks for those words of support. I just don’t have that confidence in the product yet. Maybe I should ask for the jars back too, if any get given away.

    Hi Jane Marie, thanks, we can live on pickles, peppers and tomato sauce, might make a good sandwich. HA. The life of the retired is a good one, it’s true. The downside is that one is no longer YOUNG! Always the yin to the yang.

    Hi Karen, thanks and glad to see you. Your comment came in while I was working on the link for the Arte Y Pico award. Did you know I was at your place trying to get the url? Anyway, thanks for everything and so glad I found your email, I had been going through every comment and was getting frustrated at not finding you and Jane Marie. I think there might be more I have missed too. The search continues.

  16. Gail says:

    Frances,

    Here is a salt pig! They let you have easy access to salt but keep them ‘moist’ the way you want your sea salt to be!
    http://thesecretingredientonline.blogspot.com/2007/10/salt-pig-love.html

    Gail

  17. Daisy says:

    I was excited to see that you use your cherry tomatoes in sauces… This year will be a first for sauce-making for me and mine (if the tomatoes ever ripen… I’m so anxious to get going!)

    I’ve been reading about sauces, and it seems that means inadvertently reading a lot about canning. Someone said that they liked a pair of thick rubber gloves instead of the jar lifter. I don’t can, but I thought I’d pass it on in case you want to ask a canner what they think about gloves.

    I plan on freezing this year since I got a chest freezer at the end of last season. I was relieved to see you freeze your sauce!

  18. mr_subjunctive says:

    Dropping by to let you know that I mentioned your blog today on my blog, though it’s hard to explain what the “mention” involves. The relevant post is this one.

  19. Titania says:

    You have been a busy lady preserving your gardens bounty. It is a a lot of work but in a way very satisfactory at least for me! I still make my own jams with homegrown strawberries and loganberries. Chillijam, tomatoesauce, all sorts of pickles and chutneys. I have a Sevilla bitter Orange tree for marmalade. My dentist asks me every winter have you made your Sevilla marmalade; I bring him a jar; barter system; LOL!

  20. Christopher C. NC says:

    Fortunately we only have one cherry tomato plant, so there won’t be a bucket load of those. I may actually pick the first ripe slicing tomato today. Even with the Big Wilt, the cucumbers are prolific. The Banana Peppers are trying to compete for the abundance award with the cukes.

    Now of course with my Inkwell backsplash I will be needing a dark gray Corian like countertop. Those are all the samples I have collected, but what is up with all the speckles and marbling in countertops and tiles? Everything practically is very speckled or marbled. Don’t they make plain colored, washed colored or even a plaid countertop? I don’t want speckles or marbling.

  21. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, thanks for the link to the pig salter. I am not a big pig fan for my own home, but can admire that taste in others. ;->

    Hi Daisy, thanks for the glove info. I will check it out. I like to freeze the tomato sauce and have been doing it that way for years. I use the gladware because it it stackable, cheap and available everywhere, plus it can be used for other stuff like leftovers. Good luck with your preserving!

    Hi Mr. Subjunctive, that was very interesting, very artsy. How can you have that much free time to do that though? ;->

    Hi Titania, your orange marmalade sounds wonderful, it must be good if you can get dental work in exchange! I am kidding. ;-> It is satisfying, I would love to make jams and preserves, maybe that will be next. Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Christopher C., think how many cukes you would have without the big wilt then? It boggles the imagination in terms of pickling. Yours must be the non processed kind to be stored in the fridge. Old school. Banana peppers are a great thing to have in abundance, peppers and onions sauteed in olive oil make any meal special! I haven't looked at countertop material since mine was installed in 2000. The big chunks of color was just coming into vogue and it cost extra. I think mine was in the midrange, solid white or ivory being the cheapest. But I have to say that plaid would probably be a bit busy with your fancy backsplash. ;-> Do they not have a dark gray? Have you check out the quartz ones, there are many products nowadays, I would love to have the opportunity to start over again with colors, etc. When the Financier retires we will probably be moving so that chance may come.

  22. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Although I have never posted before, I come and peak every once in a while. Your gardens are lovely and this post is fabulous! The harvest from your garden is incredible and your canning is sure to be enjoyed for many months to come. Thanks for the education in canning as that is something I have thought of doing, but never done.

  23. Frances, says:

    Hi Siria, thanks and welcome. Do you have a blog that I could list on my sidebar? I appreciate your taking the time to comment. The canning experiment will be graded once the product is tasted. It was fun, except for burned hands, not just from the hot water, but from the jalapenos. I have had that happen before and knew it would wear off eventually. At least I didn’t scrape the seeds from the peppers with my fingernails. That happened before and I thought the skin under the nails was on fire for hours. Nothing relieved it except cold running water. Gloves must be put on the shopping list.

  24. Siria says:

    Frances, I do not have a blog, and am marveling at how you have time to have the gorgeous garden that you have, post on your blog and find time to visit others blogs…besides all the other things that you have to do! This is all new to me and I am just learning.

  25. Frances, says:

    Hi Siria, thanks for filling me in and welcome even more for not having a blog. I was just a reader, and even commented for a couple of years. Then started in December of last year. Since then the number of garden bloggers has exploded, there are so many now that I cannot keep up, even with Blotanical. Do you go there? You don’t have to be a blogger to join and it has lots of good features to find new blogs and the latest posts from the rest too. I do NOT have time to do eveything that needs doing during the spring and summer. It was easy during the winter to blog, even everyday. Now I can hardly post let along visit and comment on all the blogs I would like to. Thanks for taking time to answer back.

  26. semi says:

    yummmm. Can’t wait to try the pickles. I am sure they will great! The cukes were so good, especially in salds! Love Semi

  27. Frances, says:

    Hi Semi, you will get a taste, if not a whole jar. I need to get some more cukes, will try the farmer’s market. I need to plant more next year so we can have them in salads as well as to make pickles. love.

  28. Carol says:

    Frances, You are going to town with all your canning! I’ve always wanted to can, but feel like I need to find someone to teach me, so I don’t poison anyone!

    I’ll be watching your progress from afar.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  29. chuck b. says:

    You can finish off scores of tomatoes in a tomato pot-pie. You have to blanch the tomatoes first to get the skin off. Layer them in and add corn kernels, peas, finely chopped broccoli, some basil, and cheese. Drizzle with a dressing made from mayonnaise and lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Put on the top crust and bake for an hour. Yuuum!

  30. Frances, says:

    HI Carol, thanks for stopping by. I feel exactly like you and am very apprehensive about eating this. But freezing the tomato sauce is safe and easy. I feel better about the pickles since they all passed the lid sealing test. I couldn’t get the lids off. But I might put them in the fridge, we have an extra one in the garage, anyway.

    Hi Chuck, that sounds delicious, but skinning the tomatoes is too much work, I would skip that step. I do like to oven roast sliced tomatoes and halved cherry tomatoes on a cookie sheet drizzled with olive oil and sea salt, then use them in dishes like the pie. Thanks for dropping by.

  31. Annie in Austin says:

    Frances, it seems I come here to enjoy watching you do things that we either can’t or won’t do! And with it its black background your blog kind of looks like a TV show on that PBS Create station.

    The two ‘Juliet’ grape tomato plants are still making flowers and fruit and we only have a few mid-size tomatoes still turning red inside so we can easily keep up with our crop, and don’t have to make any decisions on canning or freezing.

    Enjoy your bounty!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  32. Frances, says:

    Hi Annie, what a nice compliment, thanks so much. I was a little worried that this post was too much cooking and not enough gardening, but I really liked the way the first photo of the inside of my oven came out, you don’t even see how dirty it is! The tomatoes look like movie stars. Glad you are having good luck with the Juliets, they are tasty. Our bigger tomatoes are starting to slow down too but the little ones just keep on chugging. I need to find a place to plant the tons of garlic that I ordered from seed savers, it will be coming in September. Something will have to be ripped out, oh dear.

  33. Barbee' says:

    Frances, you are so smart! The produce looks wonderful and your series of photos were perfect. I read every word and examined each pic. They brought back memories of great-aunts, my mother, and other women in the family who were so thrifty. I enjoyed this post very much. I know you are very busy, so don’t worry with replying to this comment; I’m just visiting around.

  34. Frances, says:

    Hi Barbee, thanks so much for those kind words. I am never too busy to reply to comments as long as I can get to a computer. I really enjoyed learning this new skill and look forward to making more pickles and then eating them. I will be making more sauce soon, the tomatoes are piling up again.

  35. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    I am absolutely drooling right now! And I have that same graniteware canning pot, purchased this year to make cherry jam. It works great, and I like that the little tray can be pulled up and set on the pot rim to make it easier to take out the individual jars.

    As far as advice, my advice to you in regards to the pickles is this: Forget the 2 week “steeping” time! Give it at least 3-4 days, then open a jar to see if you like them–you will at least get a very good idea of the flavor by then. That way, if you need more spice or something in the next batch, or decide you want to add garlic, etc., you can adjust.

    We used to eat grandma’s garlic pickles after just a day or two. That was probably too soon, but they were still yummy. 🙂

  36. Frances, says:

    HI Kim, thanks for that good advice. Everyone was bummed including me about having to wait so long to eat the pickles. I will have enough cukes to try another batch soon, so knowing what to add would be helpful. I also need to get some rubber gloves. Today more tomato sauce is roasting, not using the largest pot this time, a more manageable amount.

  37. Lori says:

    My mouth is watering! I’m so envious of your garden bounty. And this post on canning really brings back memories of being a kid and admiring the rows of homemade canned beets and applesauce in my mom’s pantry.

  38. Frances, says:

    Hi Lori, nice to see you and thanks. I am very proud of the line up and jars and plan to do more today. Now all I need is a pantry!

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