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

Tomato Red Pepper Sauce

It is a long weekend, here in Ontario, Canada.

And what am I doing on this long weekend?

Well, Saturday morning I wanted to visit farms. Attila was game. I found information about local farms on the internet, what little there was, made a list, and off we went. Well, that didn’t go well. There was a bad accident on a nearby highway, it was closed, and the traffic was routed through our little urban area. What would have been a 15 minute drive into the country took two hours to get a mile or so to the grocery store, and we dealt with a lot of rude, frustrated, aggressive drivers who kept trying to take short cuts on dead-end streets.

Since we were stuck in traffic so close to the grocery store, and so cut off from getting to any farms, we decided to shop. All I wanted was a bottle of lemon juice. What we walked out of the store with was two 25 pound boxes of Roma tomatoes, a 20 pound box of Red Shepherd peppers, and six pounds of onions.

And that sealed my fate!

By noon Saturday Attila and I were chopping and dicing vegetables; cleaning and sterilizing canning jars and rings and lids; setting up the food mill; setting up the pressure canner; and the canning began. This is only practical on weekends, when the hydro is affordable.

Attila helped by chopping onions, celery, and garlic. I cleaned and sectioned the 50 pounds of Roma tomatoes, then cooked them down so that Attila could put them through the food mill. Wow, all that work described in one sentence! I also cleaned and diced 20 pounds of peppers. Then I cooked the first batch of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce, and pressure canned it in 500 ml jars. The yield was 23 jars. Then I made a second batch of Red Pepper Tomato Sauce. It was after 1:30 a.m. by this time, and I was wearing out. So I left the second batch on the stove for the night, and hit the hay. I had been on my feet since noon, and was feeling a bit tired.

At 6:30 a.m. this morning I was wide awake and thinking about that second batch of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce sitting on the stove. Up and at em’! Still in my pajamas, I turned on the stove and got the sauce cooking again. Well, here I am, writing this, it is 8:14 p.m., and I am still in my pajamas, apron over all, finally sitting down for a break!

By 11:00 a.m. this morning I had canned an additional 21 500 ml jars of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce, and by 7:00 p.m. I had canned 12 one litre jars of tomato sauce.

That makes a total of 44 500 ml jars of Red Pepper Tomato Sauce and 24 1 litre jars of tomato sauce. Two days of very hard work for me. I love my pressure canner!! I am pretty fond of the food mill too.

Two very busy days. It has been a long time since I sat down and felt relief in every cell of my body. Working that hard isn’t a bad thing, when you don’t have to do it, when you want to do it, when you are so engaged with what you are doing that the time disappears, and discomfort means nothing at all. I enjoyed myself immensely today!

Some people run marathons, run rivers, dirt bike… me, I pressure can.

Worldly

Weather

25°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Sunday 2 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 24.9°C
Dew point: 21.8°C
Humidity: 83%
Wind: SW 16 km/h
Humidex: 34
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“To the soul, there is hardly anything more healing than friendship.”
Thomas Moore
1779 – 1852

Heat Wave!

Today is so hot, and humid. My Mom is happy as a clam, she loves the heat. Me, I am safe at home, in the air conditioned luxury of Mist Cottage. Attila, well… Attila is outside, working on the exterior south wall of the house, and the exterior south wall of the garage, scraping paint, and repainting. He has finished scraping and painting the wall the house, and had just finished scraping the wall of the garage. I offered to help, but Attila pointed out that having to take me to the hospital for heat exhaustion would not really be of much help to him. He has a point. I do not tolerate the heat well.

This afternoon it will feel like 39C with the humidex. Tonight the temperature will fall to 17C. It is a real roller coaster ride!

This morning I attended a three hour workshop on storing family photos and documents. It was excellent, and the cost was entirely reasonable at $8. I have not really done anything like this since I stopped going to Yoga class, which is more than two years ago. When a description of this workshop popped up in my email box, I called immediately to reserve a seat. This morning I was resistant, I had to make myself get dressed and get out the door on time. It was well worth overcoming inertia.

I haven’t been eating a lot lately, the dental work is still giving me a bit of grief, which is normal. When Attila got home from work yesterday, he asked me what I wanted for dinner. I responded by asking him what HE wanted for dinner. His response was immediate, pizza! We haven’t had pizza since last spring, it is not summer food, requiring the oven to bake. We decided that since it was the first day autumn, an oven meal would be appropriate, even though the temperature outside was hot enough to fry eggs on the back porch railing. So we celebrated the Autumn Equinox by making a homemade pizza, and sitting down to eat it in front of Netflix, watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. We know it is autumn, the trees know it is autumn, only the weather doesn’t know it is autumn.

The pizza was better than ever. The pre-made pizza sauce from the grocery store is shockingly high in sodium, which is unacceptable for me. On last night’s pizza, we used a jar of the Tomato Red Pepper Sauce, made earlier in September, in place of the pre-made pizza sauce. The homemade sauce is very low in sodium, so that my part of the pizza got more than the two tablespoons of sauce usually allowed. It was wonderful! And to think, we have another 34 jars of Tomato Red Pepper Sauce… 34 pizzas!

It seems to be my year for run ins with insects. In this heat the yellow jackets are everywhere, huge ones! I went out to see how Attila was doing with his project, and a yellow jacket must have come back into the house with me on my clothing. Then it must have ended up on the floor, where my bare foot came into contact with it, and it stung the bottom of my toe. I felt it. My toe has a “blister” and is quite sore still. I killed the yellow jacket. There are a lot of wasps around our house, the nests seem to be right under the shingles. Attila sprayed and destroyed a nest one evening last week, that was under the awning outside the dining area windows. There was also a huge cone shaped hornets next in our flowering tree in the front yard this summer, which was sprayed in August, and is now inactive. We had another nest of hornets under the compost, the black plastic bin. Attila was planning on spraying it before digging it out, but an animal, probably a skunk, got to it first, dug out the nest and ate all the wasps. Yay!

Boiling dishclothes DSCF1260 A pot full of dishcloths and facecloths, boiling them up to kill the bacteria, five minutes does the trick!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

HEAT WARNING IN EFFECT
23°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Saturday 23 September 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.4°C
Dew point: 20.2°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: S 22 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility: 24 km

Today Mainly sunny. High 31. Humidex 39. UV index 6 or high.
Tonight Clear. Fog patches developing overnight. Low 17.

Quote

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
George Orwell
1903 – 1950