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.