Pressure Canner: Tomatoes 2018

Another info-note to self about my canned tomatoes.

Three dozen jars of tomatoes were canned in September 2018.  The first two batches were Roma tomatoes purchased from first NoFrills in a 20 pound box for $7,99, then a second box was purchased from Metro in a 25 pound box for $8.00.  The third batch was canned in two sessions on September 26th and 27th using garden tomatoes: Pink Girl; San Marino; Health Kick; and Amish paste tomatoes.

Tomato preparation:

The Roma tomatoes were washed and the stem ends removed.  They were placed whole in a 16 quart stock pot, then brought to a boil and simmered until stewed.  Then they were processed through the Cuisinart manual food mill, using the largest size sieve plate.

The garden tomatoes were frozen whole as they ripened, stems removed.  The frozen tomatoes were placed in a 16 quart stock pot with 1/2 cup of water, set on a low heat until they began to thaw and soften.  The tomatoes were stewed at a low heat.  Then they were processed through teh Cuisinart manual food mill, using the smallest size sieve plate.  This size was used because of the minute size of the tomato seeds in the Amish Paste tomatoes.

Jarring the tomatoes for canning:

The Roma tomatoes from NoFrills were canned using 4 tablespoons of vinegar per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The Roma tomatoes from Metro were canned using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

The garden tomatoes were canned using 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per 1 litre jar.  Rims were checked and cleaned then lids and rings were applied and finger tightened.

Pressure Canning:

The jars of tomatoes were canned in the pressure canner for 15 minutes at 11 pounts pressure. The All American pressure canner was set on the electric coil burner at 6/10 heat until pressure was reached, then the heat was reduced to 5.5/10 for 15 minutes of canning timed when pressure was reached.

Kitchen Magic

I have always loved the kitchen. I love everything about the kitchen, acquiring food to put in it, preserving food, storing food, preparing food, baking, cleaning, organizing, the list goes on. I’ve always been this way, ever since I can remember. My Aunt had a picture of me, at age about five, sweeping the kitchen floor at our farm, and the caption reads, “Mother’s little helper”. That about sums it up, I liked my mother’s kitchen, I liked doing things with and for my mother in the kitchen, it was my favourite room in the house. It was a farm kitchen, and my mother always was a good cook, who liked to cook, and to preserve the produce we had fresh from our farm. I grew up thinking that canning, jam and jelly making, baking, freezing, and all kinds of other kitchen and food related activities, were normal, and fun.

In addition to Mom’s kitchen, the was Granny’s kitchen. That wondrous place where the wood stove represented wonderful meals. There wonderful things happened when we brought home fresh picked wild fruit, choke cherries, raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and high bush cranberries. My Granny and Grandpa had a magnificent garden, so there was always fresh vegetables during the growing season. My Grandpa loved to fish, as we all did, so there was fresh fish to fry in farm fresh butter. And the highlight of the culinary delights at Granny and Grandpa’s house was the homemade maple syrup, which they made every spring from the trees on their property. Oh the pure joy of a small bowl of maple syrup with homemade bread and fresh butter!  Heavenly.

Kitchens are magic.

It wasn’t surprising that I pursued my first degree in Food and Nutrition. The chemistry (and politics of food) behind the workings of the kitchen opened up another realm of information, and more magic.

*************************************

Has it really been a week since I last posted! Time is flying by. This is not surprising, as it is autumn, and harvest season.

The Instant Pot is still in daily use. I haven’t used the range or the oven for anything but food preservation ever since the Instant Pot came into the house. Last night I made up a new recipe that Attila loved. It was basically a hamburger gravy cooked in the instant pot with fresh green beans from the garden, and a chopped onion. I thickened it after it was cooked, on saute, then served it over small new potatoes. It was lovely. Tonight it will be chicken, although I won’t know what recipe I am going to make until five minutes before I begin meal preparation. A shout out to Teri, thanks for sending me a yahoo link to a great many Instant Pot recipes, I will have fun there.

I put filtered my apple cider this past week, removing the mash from the liquid.  It is now in the final step, which can take many weeks, as the apple cider slowly turns to vinegar.  I have had to remove a wee bit of mold from the top, but from what I read online, this is not something to be concerned about.  The blackberry mash and water are still in the first phase of the process, slowly turning into cider.  I wonder if cider is right word to use with this, blackberry cider.  Hmm.

Since Monday I have canned 14 litres of tomatoes. The tomatoes are from our garden, and were frozen whole as soon as they reached their peak of ripeness. It has been quite a job, thawing them, boiling them down, putting them through the food mill, boiling them down again, then pressure canning them. I love my All American pressure canner! The last five litres are just now cooling on the kitchen counter. Tomorrow I will test their seals, then pack them into the box with the rest of the canned garden tomatoes, and put them into storage in the basement. When I consider that the current price for organic canned tomatoes, in a glass jar, is $8.99 per 680ml, well, we couldn’t afford to eat this quality of food if we hadn’t grown and preserved it ourselves. To buy the equivalent amount of canned organic tomatoes in jars that I canned from our garden, would have cost $185, and generated 20 empty glass jars to be recycled. As it was this year, the garden tomato plants cost less than $10, with free fertilizer from the compost bins. What we saved in dollars was made up for with time, sweat equity. Attila gardened, I canned. Of course, there is the added bonus of the powder I make from the dehydrated skins and seeds from all of these tomatoes, it is very tasty, and I don’t see such a product available in any of the grocery stores I frequent.

Attila renovate and gardens, I administer and preserve food, and in this way we keep our heads above water. Attila is on board with this approach, he has always been on board with this approach, even when he was set on moving out on his own, he was on board with this approach. It isn’t glamorous, newsworthy, unusual, or noteworthy, it is just how we do things, as individuals and as housemates.

mason jar, with coffee filter on top to separate liquid from mash.

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: This is the setup I devised for filtering the apple skins and cores out of the apple cider. First I placed a sterilized wide mouth mason jar on the counter. Then I placed a stainless steel wide-mouthed funnel in the far. Then I placed a coffee filter in the wide-mouthed funnel. Then I place the sterilized jar ring in the coffee filter, to prevent the filter from falling through the funnel. Once this setup was complete, I poured the liquid from my apple cider jar into the coffee filter, so that it passed through the filter and into the mason jar below.

sieve of apple mash draining on coffee filter

Making Apple Cider Vinegar: After pouring as much liquid as possible from the apple cider jar into the mason jar, the mash was placed in a sieve, which in turn was placed on the coffee filter, to allow the remaining liquid to drain from the mash.

bakset of frozen tomatoes

This is half of the frozen tomatoes from our garden.

The frozen tomatoes were place in a 16 quart stock pot over a low heat, to thaw and simmer.

Stock pot containing tomato sauce, with reflection of Maggie's legs.

The tomatoes were simmered in the stockpot, put through the food mill, then returned to the stock pot to simmer. And here you have, as a little extra bonus, a stealth picture of me taking the picture. Mrs. Tomato Head.

canning jars in a pressure canner

And here are the jars of canned tomatoes, ready and waiting to be canned in the pressure canner, then onto the counter, where they will cool for 24 hours, before testing the seals and storing them away.

groceries with total cost of 95 cents, includes 3 frozen turkeys, socks, green peppers, red peppers cilantro and two packages of English Muffins.

Another little bonus shot. Attila watches points when we shop. He loves numbers, and his passion for numbers is put to good use with points. This was our grocery haul this week, total cost, cashing in points, 95 cents.

Worldly

Weather

16°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Thursday 27 September 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.5°C
Dew point: 8.9°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

OK, here is the thing! When I went to bed last night the temperature in the house was 22C. The heat is not turned on. Last night I forgot to close the windows, and the temperature outside went down to 10C overnight. Yikes!

And you know what? When I woke up this morning, the temperature in the house was still 21C! It only went down 1C degree! The attic insulation is doing an amazing job. Who knew! Well, I sorta knew, but I didn’t realize it would be this good.

Quote

“A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.”
Daniel Webster
1782 – 1852

Turn, Turn, Turn

Some sort of turning point has been taken here at Mist Cottage. I can’t really define just when it turned, or what it is, just how it feels. It feels settled. It feels comfortable. It feels right. It feels challenging. It feels fluid. It feels a bit unpredictable. I don’t really trust this change, not yet anyway, in time, if it is real and stable, I will grow to trust it. Trust is earned.

Attila seems to have not only recovered from his “terrible, terrible mistake”, but to have come through some kind of dark night of the soul, and out the other side. He is still the same old Attila, but seems to have awakened anew, and is now able to smell the roses in this lucky life he has with me.

What a year this has been so far! Every year seems that way though, but my mileage varies.

The garage roof project is not done yet. Attila doesn’t usually finish projects at one go. He will push until he is very nearly finished, then suddenly stop altogether. It will take some prodding on my part to get him to complete the few, small remaining bits of the exterior. And that prodding will not occur until he has completely recovered from his injured ankle, however long that takes.

The interior of the garage, well as far as I am concerned, the interior is his space and he can take the rest of his life to finish it, if that is what he wants to do. As long as he moves his tools and building materials out of the tiny basement, to make room for easy access to the stored items that are going to be stored down there long-term, then I am good with whatever timeline he has for the garage interior.

The Heliopsis in the garden is a transplant from my Granny’s flower garden. So many fond memories of that garden, and time spent with my Granny, sitting on the porch beside the flower garden. It loves being here at Mist Cottage. It is over eight feet tall, and is blooming profusely. The right yellow blooms have been cut for vases, and grace the living room and the kitchen with their cheer.

The Rose plant that was transplanted from my Granny’s garden is alive, and has about a foot of growth on it, no blooms this year. I have tried many times before to transplant cuttings and root-stock of those roses, and this is the first time the effort has succeeded to any degree. I am concerned about the plant surviving the winter here. At my Granny’s house the snow is deep all winter, covering the plants and protecting them from frost damage. At Mist Cottage we get some weather just as cold as that at Granny’s house, but the snow cover is significantly less, and sporadic. I plan on putting a heavy mulch over the rose for the winter months, and hope that will protect it from ground frost.

The Inspector for the Hydro Affordability Plan visited yesterday for our eligibility inspection. He was a very personable young man, and even though the news was disappointing, it was a good experience. The upshot was that we are so frugal with our use of hydro that our points were negligible. Assistance is given based on points, the more points you have the more assistance you are eligible for. So no new energy-efficient appliances for us. But we were eligible for some LED light bulbs and a power bar, which was a pleasant surprise. With this assistance program we shot ourselves in the foot by being so frugal with our use of hydro, altering our lifestyle significantly to keep the bills affordable. No rewards for trying! Still, no regrets, we will carry on as we have been, minimizing power usage whenever we can.

The tomatoes are really coming on now! They are being frozen whole as they are harvested, so that the processing can take place all at once. Processing will involve placing the frozen tomatoes in boiling water to thaw them, draining away the water, putting them through the Food Mill, and finally canning them in the pressure canner. Three of the varieties are heritage, so they are high acid and can be canned in a hot water bath, but I will pressure can them, just in case.

I don’t really like eating meat. Attila loves meat.

Years ago we bought a quarter of beef, grass-fed beef. Two grocery bags of the beef packages are still in the freezer. There are several packages of stewing beef. One package came out of the freezer, was thawed overnight, and cooked yesterday in a dish new to us, Lebanese Green Beans and Beef Casserole. Preparing it using diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and reducing the salt to 1/2 teaspoon as opposed to 1 1/2 teaspoons, resulted in burning, which I caught immediately, turning off the Instant Pot, and deglazing the bottom of the not so very burnt pot in order to try again. Not enough liquid in the recipe, I reckoned, so a cup of water was added before starting again. The cup of water did the trick, it cooked as it should. It was a bit watery though, so it needed to be thickened after cooking, which is easily done by adding a flour and water mixture and cooking it on Saute for a short time.

This recipe is a keeper at our house. Attila loved it. I wasn’t sure how I Liked it, but found myself returning for a second helping without thinking. That must mean that I like it.

Since Attila is supposed to stay off his feet as much as possible, the shopping has landed in my court. I am more prone to impulse buying than is Attila, as I demonstrated once again. My indulgence? A three litre basket of new potatoes for $3.97. My Grandparents grew wonderful potatoes, and the only commercial potatoes that come close in taste is autumn harvest new potatoes. What a treat!

This morning, at 5:45 a.m., those lovely little potatoes were lovingly washed, pricked with a fork, and set on the rack in the Instant Pot. A cup of water was poured into the bottom of the pot, the lid secured, the vent closed, the timer set to 12 minutes, and the start button pushed. At 6:15 a.m. the lid came off and those lovely little potatoes were cooked to perfection. And that is what I had for breakfast, two little potatoes, with salt free margarine, and a sprinkling of roasted garlic and pepper spice. I felt wealthy!

For dinner tonight I plan on steaming Coconut Lime Fish in the Instant Pot, to serve with new potatoes and fresh Scarlet Runner Beans from the garden. Steaming fish in the Instant Pot is an experiment, wish me luck!

Worldly

Weather

14°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Thursday 23 August 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.4°C
Dew point: 12.1°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: WNW 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

As you can see, our heat wave has ended! What a relief!

Quote

“The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”
Umberto Eco
1932 – 2016

Not all cowards are honest cowards!

A Few Days

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today I learned that it is not wise to wear crock type footwear on chilly rainy days. Puddles in parking lots, when the temperature is hovering around 10C, are just waiting for the unsuspecting Crock wearer. I will not be a Crock wearer on another such day, nor will I be unsuspecting.

Tonight supper consisted of leftover homemade pizza, and seedless grapes for dessert. I love fast food pizza, ordered and pickup up, but only on the first day. It looses its appeal when reheated. Homemade pizza is good the first night, and just as good the second or third night. The real bonus for me is is that homemade pizza crust contains no sodium, so that a few slices of pizza won’t put me into sodium overload. Although I love it, I don’t put pepperoni on pizza, it is too high sodium. I do like a bit of low-sodium bacon cooked and crumbled on my homemade pizza, with sweet onions, sweet peppers, and mushrooms. I use my homemade Red Pepper Sauce as well, no sodium in that. The cheese, well, it is the cheese I have to watch, high in sodium, and in cholesterol. The biggest drawback to homemade pizza is that I have to make it, but then, so far Attila is willing participant in pizza construction, so it isn’t so bad at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Well, I started this entry yesterday and got distracted. It didn’t take much to distract me either. Attila was going to the garden centre to spend a $20 gift certificate he received, so I decided to go with him. Today he will plant the tomatoes, peppers, and rosemary. The compost toilets at the Rideau Camp use peat moss, so a good supply was purchased for the 2018 season. It was raining the during the entire visit to the garden centre, which was only partially sheltered. I wore a parka and heavy winter boots, which allowed me to remain comfortable while I wandered about. It is lovely to spend time around growing things… the labels are a big bonus, suddenly I know what I am looking at.

I have had Food Mills recommended to me numerous times. I recently found a relatively good quality one on sale, a Cuisinart Food Mill. It arrived this past week. I tried it for the first time last night. Attila had unearthed yet another bag of vintage whole tomatoes from the freezer. I removed the stem and ends, popped them frozen and whole into a large soup pot, then heated them up until they were thawed and warm. They were drained, ladled into the food mill, and in about 20 minutes a lovely tomato sauce was extracted. Two 500 ml jars of tomato sauce are labelled and in the freezer.

Who knew!! I am in love with the Food Mill. It is so easy, I wonder at the decades I’ve lived without it. How did I do that? I wish I had listened to all of you who told me about the Food Mill quite a while ago!

The skins and seeds were left in the food mill. I scraped them onto a piece of waxed paper, spread them thin, and place the waxed paper on the cooking rack. I am hoping to place the dried skin and seeds in the blender to create a powder for flavouring. The results may or may not be satisfactory.

The clean up was super easy.

Inspired by last night’s success in the kitchen, pre-dawn found me in back there, beginning preparations for my complete protein Vegetable Soup. I was happily chopping vegetables, sautéing the beef and onions, grabbing the bits of this and that that I had saved over the last week, adding them to the soup pot, when Attila rose with the sun.

Attila is planting his garden today. I watch. I occasionally offer input, but never criticism. Breakfast on the back porch consisted of a toasted bagel, and a banana smoothie. Funny how how food tastes even better when you are watching someone else work! But really, Attila is playing, not working, he enjoys gardening so much.

Well, here it is, almost noon, and I am still sitting in my pyjamas; quite comfortably I might add.

I think I’ll get dressed now, and go wander in the garden, see if Attila wants any help.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 20 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 18.4°C
Dew point: 12.6°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: NNW 21 gust 32 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.”
Thomas Carlyle
1795 – 1881

Sigrid Undset

Another day has disappeared, flowing painlessly and almost silently into the what-has-been. How I cherish this kind of day.

Deciding on what type of blanket to crochet has proven to be a time consuming, yet enjoyable process. At the end of the day, the choice has not yet been made.

The garden has yielded many pounds of scarlet runner beans, a veritable bumper crop. The plants are beautiful, the blooms brighten even the greyest, dullest day. The beans are a wee bit furry, and delicious. Attila has been blanching and freezing almost every weeknight, so that we will enjoy organic garden green beans with our warm winter meals. The tomatoes are not prolific, but have provided me with weeks of toasted tomato sandwich lunches. The tomatoes continue to produce modest numbers of fruit to keep the supply coming. The cabbage is small, Attila will use it in stir fries in the coming weeks. The celery is small as well, one plant in particular, but it will make a welcome addition to dishes all winter long, as we will chop, blanch, and freeze it. The squash has not ripened yet, but it looks to be a good crop of Hubbard and Butternut squash.

I recently gifted two genealogy reference books, which had been gifted to me. I left them under Iris the Trailer last weekend, well packaged in a box and a plastic bag, so that my fellow researcher could pick them up at her leisure. She willingly shares her research with others, and tries to help anyone with their research if she can, so that I feel the books well placed in her hands.

I don’t usually buy books these days, they are expensive, and they require storage space, if I fall in love with them and want to keep them near. Although I enjoyed the Ferrante books, I did not fall in love with them, they did not open inner doors and windows for me, perhaps because the author’s experiences are not entirely dissimilar to my own. I am thinking of donating the books to a library, having only been read by me they are in new condition.

I have been intrigued by the author Sigrid Undset (1882-1949), a Norwegian author who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. I had not heard of her before, and wonder why. She wrote two series of novels set against the background of medieval Norway in the 13th century: the 3-volume Kristin Lavransdatter, and the 4-volume Olav Audunssønn. I have just ordered the 3-volume Kristin Lavransdatter series, to arrive at the end of September. My winter reading will be ready, for cozy winter nights at Mist Cottage.

One night last week, deep into the night, while I was burning the midnight oil in the living room, unable to sleep, Attila heard a loud sliding noise, it woke him up. In the morning we discussed the sound, speculating on the source. It wasn’t until the next day that I opened my closet door, to find that my clothing was no longer hung neatly on the rod. The rod support had collapsed. Attila will fix this, in time. Attila and I will drive to the city tonight, to do some needed shopping, and will pick up the needed hardware. The very, very cheap wardrobes that we purchased on sale are not exactly robust. You really do get what you pay for!

Closet collapes DSCF1261 This what I found in my closet after Attila heard a loud “sliding” noise in the night.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Tuesday 19 September 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.2°C
Dew point: 19.1°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SSE 12 km/h
Humidex: 29
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.”
Eric Berne
1910 – 1970

[Rigid parameters have their uses, but it is a sad day when control the way we see the world around us.]