Harvest Season Vacation

My vacation this year was taken primarily in the kitchen over a hot stove. Pressure canning!  Doesn’t sound like a dream vacation does it?  It didn’t sound that way to me, but the reality is very far from the experience.  I love canning, I love harvest season, I love spending time in my kitchen, I love good fresh food, and I loved having Attila around and about the place, sometimes helping me, sometimes off puttering in the garden or the garage.  Most of all I love to get my teeth into an activity, tackle it, and accomplish a goal.

Here are a few pictures of my canning adventure.

canning assembly line in kitchen

This is the canning assembly line in the kitchen. There were no meals cooked during the canning days, all available space was used for at least 12 hours each day, and usually deep into the night.

Jars of Tomatoe Red Pepper Sauce

The first 23 jars of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce cooling on the table. Pressure canned jars need to sit undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours, before moving them into storage.

tomato puree

Cooking the tomato puree, in the 16 quart pot. The smaller pot was used for boiling water to sterilize the jars, rings, lids, attachments, for canning.

jars of tomatoes on kitchen counter

The results of the canning marathon! 12 Litre jars of Tomato Puree. And there is my All American Pressure Canner, resting after all its hard work.

dehydrating tomato skins and seeds

After making tomato puree with the food mill, the skins and seeds were spread on silicon sheets and placed in a 200F oven for an hour or so, this was done several times.

Jar of powdered tomatoes, with three layers.

The dehydrated tomato skins and seeds. Multiple methods of dehydration were used and can be seen in the layers in the jar. The bottom layer was air-dried, then put in the blender to create the light coloured tomato powder. The middle layer, a little darker in colour, was baked briefly in shallow baking pans, then powdered. The darkest layer, the top layer, was baked on silicon sheets in the oven, then powdered.

large pot of applesauce

The apple puree in a 15 quart stock pot. The half bushel of apples had the blossom ends and stems cut out, were quartered, boiled till soft, then put through the food mill. This was a lot of applesauce, and the pot was almost too heavy for me to lift myself.

jar with apple skins and seeds and botto of apple cider vinegar

The skins and seeds, taken from the food mill and placed in a 1 1/2 litre mason jar. To this I added 2 tablespoons of sugar dissolved in water, 2 tablespoons of
apple cider vinegar, and water to cover all of the skins and seeds, which almost filled the jar. It is sitting a dark cupboard for two weeks now, with a coffee filter covering it, held down by the screw top lid. This may or may not yield apple cider vinegar.

9 jars of applesauce

The applesauce made from 1/2 bushel of Paulared apples. The jars were pressure canned, and they all sealed as they should.

comsumers mason jar

I have been canning for decades. This was one of my first set of canning jars, a Consumers Mason jar. I have only a few of these now. I don’t remember where the others ended up, probably given as gifts, filled with some canned delight.

Atlas Mason jar

This Atlas mason jar is one I acquired somewhere, no idea where. It is an American Quart, rather than a litre.

Douglas Mason jar.

I have five or six of the Douglas Mason jars in my collection.

Dominion Mason jar.

The Dominion Mason jar, I have a few of these as well. I originally had a dozen each of the Consumers Mason, Douglas Mason, and Dominion Mason jars. I don’t remember ever having broken a jar, so I suspect I gave the missing jars away, filled with food.

different varieties of tomatoes on a plate

In the summer of 2018 we grew four varieties of tomatoes.
Upper Left: big round Pink Girl
Upper Right: one short oblong Health Kick tomato
Middle: elongated tomatoes, San Marino
Bottom: Amish Paste tomatoes
I would not grow the Pink Girl tomatoes again, they were nice but not outstanding and took a long time to ripen. The others were very nice tasting, and were wonderful for canning.

The beat up chest freezer.

And finally, the poor old thing!  This is the little second hand chest freezer I bought years ago. It was only meant to be a temporary solution to keeping frozen foods at Mist Cottage before we moved here. But when we sold the Country House, the buyers wanted our bigger, new freezer, so we had to let it go. Now this is the main freezer. It is not energy efficient, and it is very beat up, that is why I got if for a song. It works, but it doesn’t provide as much storage as we need. That is why I am canning and not freezing during this harvest season.

Worldly

Weather

13°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Monday 10 September 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.6°C
Dew point: 11.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: ENE 10 km/h
Visibility: 13 km

It was less than a week ago the humidex was hitting 40C! Look at that high today 13C! The weather people say warmer weather is on the way. That will give the garden a chance to yield lots of produce before the first frost hits.

Quote

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”
Bertrand Russell
1872 – 1970

What I Get Up To

purple ball in the back yard called wallyball

This is the purple ball that blew into our yard some time ago. It blows from place to place with the passing winds, and I enjoy watching what it is up to. Attila has named it Wallyball.

chimes hanging on the back porch

These are chimes I bought at the dollar store. They pass along whispered messages from the wind. I love them.

perper lunch bags containing seeds haning on the clothsline

These paper lunch bags contain seed heads from the Cosmos, the Giant Marigolds, and the Marigolds. The bags are labelled and hanging out to dry. This method of drying seeds seems to be working rather well!

Giant Marigolds, yellow, and Cosmos, White

These Giant Marigolds are so very beautiful! Behind them are Cosmos. I am really enjoying the flowers this year!

clump of wild flowers, small white flowers, left standing as the lawn was mowed around them

When Attila mowed the lawn this week, he left a bouquet of flowers just for me. This bouquet sits prominently in the middle of the back yard! It is the little things.

nasturiums

The Nasturtiums are doing very well, nestled up against the compost bin. I have been plucking the blooms, washing them, then popping them into my mouth. They taste sweet and peppery. I love them, the way they look, and the way they taste!

Canning assembly line.

The tomato canning assembly line. Top to bottom, the tomatoes were washed in a sink in cold water, then set in the next sink to drain, then cut into pieces on the cutting board, then placed in a large pot (in which they were boiled until soft), then ladled into a food mill which was placed on the 16 quart stock pot.  The tomato skins that were removed from the food mill were placed in the white bowl.

tomato puree

Cooking the tomato puree, in the 16 quart pot. The smaller pot was used for boiling water to sterilize the jars, rings, lids, and attachments for canning.

tomato skins spread out in pan and cleaned egg-shell on small plate

The tomato skins, having been dried in a warm oven, in a pan lined with a silicon sheet, and an egg-shell, drying on a plate. The tomato skins were separated from the pulp using the food mill, then spread in the pan and dried at 200F in the oven, off and on, over the course of a few days. All egg shells are cleaned and dried, then crushed to use as a soil amendment.

jars of tomatoes on kitchen counter

The results of the canning marathon! 12 one litre jars of Tomato Puree. And there is my All American Pressure Canner, resting after all its hard work, and behind it the Instant pot, waiting patiently to prepare our dinner.

Attila’s ankle is getting better, bit by bit, day by day. He will begin physiotherapy soon, and hopefully that will help alleviate the pain. He has two issues, one an injury to his back, and the other an old injury that has been flaring up in his ankle. He seems to be able to control the pain using Voltaran (Diclofenac) rubbed on his ankle, this allows him to sleep at night. I think that applying this locally is much better for him than taking Ibuprofen tablets, as those could affect his stomach.

Yesterday was very hot and muggy, and it did not cool down much during the night. It was, and still is, very windy. The wind toppled the Giant Marigold plants, and one of the Cosmos plants. They were then staked, and fingers are crossed that the plants will suffer no ill effects.

The garden continues to yield a small but steady harvest of tiny tomatoes. They are washed and frozen after they are harvested, to be processed all at once when the harvest season is over, and any green tomatoes have ripened. A total harvest of about two six-quart baskets is anticipated. The tomatoes from our garden will be organic tomatoes, heritage varieties, no GMO.

Last night we ate a quick supper of leftover Lebanese Instant Pot Beef and Green Beans over rice, then loaded the car and headed out to Grace the trailer. On the last visit Attila applied Mouse Free compound to the undercarriage of the trailer, and I set out numerous cotton balls infused with Peppermint Essential Oil. Two bucket type mouse traps were set and left to catch any remaining mice in Grace.

I looked for an image of the setup for the mouse trap, and found only one image, which included the deceased mice, which I didn’t need to see, and probably you don’t either. All of the other bucket mouse traps were more elaborate than ours, involving beer or pop cans. They may be more efficient, I don’t know. I am very happy with the efficacy of the trap we set. The first time we set it we caught two mature mice, while the traditional snap traps were all empty.

To create the Mouse Trap that works for us:

Materials
5 gallon bucket
two tablespoons peanut butter
table knife
water
piece of wood for a ramp

Instructions
Using the table knife, smear peanut butter horzontally to the inside of the bucket about six inches down from the rim.  A one inch by three inch smear works nicely. Pour water into the bucket to a level about in inch below the peanut butter.  Place the wood as a ramp up to the rim of the bucket, resting  just above the smeared peanut butter.  I make sure the ramp rests just on the rim, firmly.  Check occasionally for dead mice.

When I opened the door to Grace last night, I knew from the smell that we had caught mice. They must have passed away the first night we were gone, more than a week ago. In this heat, well, it wasn’t pleasant. Four mice were caught in the living room. There were no mice caught in the boot or in the bathroom traps. Although less humane, the bucket allows for much easier clean up. We burn or bury the mice we catch in the trailer, because we have warfarin laid out. It is undesirable that animals further up the food chain eat any of the mice caught in the trailer. The trap was washed with bleach, sun-dried, reloaded and set back in place, in case there are any more mice in the trailer.

When Attila applied the Mouse Free he found two hidden entry points that hadn’t been located or blocked previously. Those entry points were plugged, so that in theory any mice in the trailer from that time forth would be trapped there. The Mouse Free, in theory again, will repel further attempts by mice to enter the trailer. We are hoping that the recently trapped four mice were the last mice in the trailer.

We sat under the trees at the Camp until dark, letting the trailer air out. It was hot, humid, and windy. A flock of geese flew overhead, in V formation, heading away from the lake, probably to a nearby wetland to shelter for the night, or perhaps they would press on. It is getting to be that time of year, when the geese begin thinking of migration. Oh how I love the quiet of the bush.

Worldly

Weather

26°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 29 August 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 26.2°C
Dew point: 23.9°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 25 km/h
Humidex: 37
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not lived at all. In which case, you’ve failed by default.”
J. K. Rowling