Friday, August 17, 2007

Preservation.

So, last weekend found us with our first glut of tomatoes and green peppers. Remember, how I wasn't sure whether any of our tomato plants would make it? Well, some of that fear was correct and those planted in containers have died horrible deaths or have grossly undersized tomatoes suffering from end rot. But the tomatoes along the south side of the house (planted to in the old flower beds) have thrived and are so heavy with tomatoes that, despite our best efforts at keeping them staked, have toppled over.

This was our first (and this isn't all of them) batch of tomatoes.

2007 Tomatoes - first round

The cherry tomatoes have been ready for weeks and we've been picking them one at a time. Here they are...

Cherry Tomatoes

So what to do with all of this bounty. I'm not an expert on these matters and have really only ever watched my dad can salsa and bread and butter pickles. But being the adventurous crafter that I am, I decided to give it a try.

This immediately took me to the farmer's market to see what else was so plentiful that it would be inexpensive to can. I decided against salsa, as my dad is the expert on that.

There was Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly.
Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly - 081107-03
I'm actually a little surprised at how easy this was. Amazingly, it set up very quickly. Rykert and I tried it on Triscuits with a little bit of cream cheese, and it was really tasty. I was so impressed with myself (apparently I impress easily) that I immediately found more recipes and made some Cranberry Jalapeno Jelly. This has left us with lots of jelly, and has left Rykert pondering what we will do with it all. I've assured him that it will find homes. If you see me in the next few weeks, do not be surprised if I immediately hand your a small jar of jelly. Just try it, pretend it was tasty, and wash it down the dishwasher.

The tomatoes were chopped and canned with a bit of seasoning. I think they will be more useful to us that way rather than whole or halved tomatoes. I can see these being used as a sauce, in chili, soup, etc.

So, at the end of this week, this is what our once empty (yes we have completely empty cupboards still as we haven't had the chance to accumulate crap to fill every crevice in our house - yet) now looks like:
Canning 2007

I apologize for the bad picture, but it was late last night, and I was looking for blog fodder. On the top we have a particularly hot cranberry jalapeno jelly in small platinum Ball jars, and some dill pickles. On the bottom we have Raspberry Jalapeno Jelly, Cranberry Jalapeno Jelly, and Diced Tomatoes.

The dill pickles were easy, and if I can get to the Farmer's Market tomorrow I will make more. These will definitely be given away, as Rykert does not like pickles and would likely find the smell of the brine quite offensive. There are lots more tomatoes already lining my kitchen counter and I still have some jalapenos left. Not to mention the okra we picked up at the Farmer's Market that we will likely freeze for a winter gumbo.

All of this, as well as my bi-weekly (at least) trips to the Farmer's Market have made it clear that we will most definitely need to diversify our plantings next year. We're planning on putting in a raised bed in the lower part of our yard. It will have to be raised as we have drainage issues. Anyway, right now I want to plant tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, zucchini, cucumbers... and the list goes on. This season isn't even over and I'm already thinking about next year.

I think that my new found obsession with this has to do with the fact that I am very much a "process" person. I like the process of knitting more than I've really ever enjoyed any finished product. The same was true of photography when I did that in college (you wouldn't know from the pictures on this blog, but I was much more interested in the process of developing film). In some ways, gardening is the ultimate process. You nurse plants along, and then eventually you have all of these food stuffs that you can do anything with. And the preserving part is an involved process in itself.

Now, I should probably mention the fact that the "process" left me with a mountain of dishes and a huge, sticky mess. But all has been cleaned up. For now.

6 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Kaitie Tee said...

Everything looks delicious (and now I have a craving for jelly)! We've had quite a bit of end rot on our container tomatoes too. Next year we'll plant in the ground.

Wool Winder said...

A taste of summer in a jar...what could be better?

Knittripps said...

I am completely fascinated by canning. Your jelly looks great! It puts me in the mood to make some jelly. It is great to see another knitting/crafting Blogger talk about gardening and canning. I ran across this article yesterday that you might be interested in.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12780637

Debbie said...

Everything is beautiful! I made some habanero jelly recently and had a lot of fun with it, too.

AndreaLea said...

I'm completely jealous of your tomatoes. So far, my tomato plant has produced three little guys scarcely larger than cherry size.
Mine was in a container and sounds like your container plants didn't do well either. I thought tomatoes were ideal for container gardening??

Knittripps said...

The William Sonoma tomato press really helps with canning tomatoes. You cut the tomatoes in half and blanch them as usual. Then you run them through the press and it removes the core, skin, and seeds for you. It is really slick. Canning is really a two person job for my husband and me. There is no way I would do it by myself.

I am looking forward to seeing your Cobblestone Pullover! Maybe we can have our own mini KAL!

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