Treating Ourselves

a bowl of crabapples

Crabapples from the back yard. They are small and hard and tart, tart, tart. They have many blemishes, and a few bugs. Most of the bugs float away when they are washed, I don’t worry much about bugs. The blossom ends were cut off, and the whole apple, stems and all, were added to the pot, to be boiled for several hours until all the flesh from the apples dissolved. These Crabapple are on our property and have not been fertilized, or sprayed with insecticide, or paid any attention whatsoever. since we bought the property in 2010. I consider them organic, non-gmo, and pretty darn healthy.

The second batch of crabapples are boiling on the stove. This week was a busy one! There is a volunteer apple tree in the back yard at Mist Cottage. It is probably a crabapple tree, the apples are about half an inch to an inch in diameter. Attila figures they would be much larger if the tree were pruned, which is hasn’t been, ever. Two quarts of the apples were boiled this past week, the pulp strained through a clean cotton cloth, and the juice made into jelly. Two 500 ml jars of jelly were the result. The only ingredients were the crabapple juice and sugar. The jelly set well, and it is delicious, just like my Granny used to make. This evening Attila picked about four more quarts of crabapples, they are on the boil right now.

Since we spent our vacation working away on our projects here at Mist Cottage, we decided that it would be appropriate to treat ourselves to a new chest freezer. It arrived last week. Of course it was yet another dominoes situation. The wall against which it was to be placed was bare concrete, with a studs framed-in over it. I decided I wanted it insulated before placing the freezer there. Attila volunteered to do the work, insulating with Roxul, then sealing it with vapour barrier and tape. He got that done the day before the freezer arrived.

The freezer delivery was interesting. It barely fit through the doors, and the delivery fellows decided the doors had to be removed to get it into the house. Myself, and Attila, both feel it would have come in without taking the doors off, but these fellows had their heart set on taking them off, so off they came. Then the fellows felt the flashing around the exterior door should be removed. I grabbed Attila’s tool bag, found a screwdriver and removed the flashing for them, and put it back on again after they got the freezer into the house. They set the freezer up, installing the casters at my request, the casters were optional, so I felt they were good sports to install the casters for me. It was a hot, humid day, so I made sure they had cold beverages in their hands as I waved them goodbye.

Organizing the freezers is now my domain. Attila has always wanted to do it, has always done it, but I decided I want to do it, and he decided that maybe that would work. I am much more organized than is Attila, and am now on a mission to organize the frozen food. It is slow going! When we moved in just over three years ago the frozen food was hurriedly stuffed into the freezers, after having been transported via a five-hour truck ride. The frozen food has remained a disorganized jumble since the move.

As vintage food reveals itself during the sorting process, I use it. Two bags of tomatoes were unearthed, frozen who knows when, which were immediately stewed and went into a spaghetti dinner. A bag of chopped turkey of unknown vintage was the main ingredient for an Instant Pot meal of Mongolian Turkey. So far only a container of navy beans has been lost, it must have thawed more than was good for it. And so it has been going. It was moving along slowly but surely, until I became enamored with making Crabapple Jelly

The other addition to our kitchen is a steam canner. After seeing one demonstrated on YouTube, I did some research. They weren’t recommended by the USDA when I bought my hot water bath canner, but only because they had not been tested and their safety was unverified. Testing was conducted and the findings published in 2015, now they are approved by the USDA. I’ve always used hot water bath canning for high acid foods, but I feel steam canning is a more practical way to do the job. So in addition to the freezer, we purchased a steam canner.

I am now climbing the learning curve with the steam canner. It arrived yesterday. The first step was to wash it. The next step was to test the gauge, by canning four one-litre jars of water. To my surprise, I lost my very first canning jar, one of them cracked! It didn’t shatter, held the boiling water until I could get it to the sink, and was still hanging together when I placed it in the recycling bin.

Today I made the first batch of Crabapple Jelly, two jars. Only one of the jars sealed! This is not a problem I have ever had before, so it is surprising. I cannot account for the failure. It doesn’t matter so much in the case of the jelly, because it will be consumed soon enough, jelly keeps quite well in the refrigerator. I will be making another batch of Crabapple Jelly in the next day or so, and it will be interesting to see if I get good seals with my jars in the steam canner.

This morning was cold and dreary, raining off and on. And then the sun came out and the day transformed. It was warm and lovely. Oh how nice it would have been to have had a few days like this over the summer! There is a frost warning for tonight though, so the beans, peppers, basil, nasturtiums, marigolds, and tomatoes are all covered with plastic sheets for the night. Fingers crossed that we don’t get frost!  Or if we do, that the plastic sheets do their magic!

Worldly

Weather

15°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Thursday 4 October 2018
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.7°C
Dew point: 7.0°C
Humidity: 60%
Wind: NNW 15 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
Tonight: Low zero with patchy frost.

Quote

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000

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5 Responses to Treating Ourselves

  1. meriset says:

    I hope the freezer gives you many years of good service! Enjoy the crab apple jelly! It is now cool enough here to have the windows open at night.

  2. meriset says:

    The “meriset” is the name I use on the WordPress blogs, this is Joan Lansberry, 🙂

  3. Joan, I figured out it was you from the image! Love the name meriset. Thanks about the freezer, it is one of my favourite appliances, it allows the purchase of about to expire meats and other expensive foods, because we can capture the date and hold it until we thaw the food. Magic!

    The jelly is wonderful, and oh so satisfying that is basically a foraged food, the tree was just there, probably started from bird droppings, and I suspect I was the first person ever to transform its fruit into human food.

    Windows open! How lovely! We had a frost warning last night, but no frost in evidence this morning, and I think I can have the windows open today! A brief shared weather experience between Yuma and Ontario!

  4. Birdie says:

    I am still so far away from pressure canning. I am so afraid of them. Afraid of botulism. Afraid of them blowing up.

  5. The hot water bath canner is a very good start!! High acid foods canned in a hot water bath canner do not host botulism. The food could go bad, a broken seal or something of that nature, but you can tell when you pop the lid, whether it was sealed or not. You can also smell food that has gone off, with hot water bath canning. It is a great way to can, and unless you want to do low acid foods like meat, vegetables, and beans, then the hot water bath canner will do you just fine. It did me just fine for quite a few decades, 🙂

    Birdie, pressure canners deserve respect. I enjoy canning, and after carefully and slowly learning how to use a pressure canner, I am glad I did. I am glad I pushed through my caution. I did not experience fear though, just caution. Luckily I had no bad experiences with canning. Luckily I am pretty confident in the my own learning process, so that I know my skills with the canner are sound, and what botulism is, what causes it, and how make sure it never develops in anything I can.