Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Your Garden Wizard is Back

Just because we sport chickens and a big garden does not mean Mrs. Olsen has any idea what she's doing. I had big intentions this year as far as canning, but in the end it appeared to be more a harvest of ideas than actual food. When I went to freeze my corn, it was chewy and hard. When I checked the weather report that told me Sunday was the day of the big frost, I woke up on a Friday to find my nine tomato plants had been violated by an early freeze. My dreams of spaghetti sauce and salsa were smashed.

The little canning I did accomplish this summer was all thanks to my plentiful raspberry patch, apricot and pear tree, and the ever bountiful garden soldier: the zucchini.

This raspberry patch was our surprise inheritance with our house we purchased this summer. Our dwelling is roughly a decade old, and during that time some crazy gardening wizard planted fruit trees, a raspberry patch, perennials, groundcover, and colorful annuals (several neighbors have commented how she had the most amazing flowerbeds ever! sorry folks).

That patch just kept producing. I picked my last batch a good two weeks after the frost that destroyed my tomatoes. Who would have thought the sweet delicate flesh of the raspberry was so resilient?

Must be a woman.

Here is some apricot jam. I am smiling just looking at it. Rainbow Girl would pick up the growing apricots and bring them to The Mister of the House and state: "Dad, let's science this!". Through deductive logic, they narrowed their findings to a) fruit b) an estimated ripening date c) either peaches or d) apricots. Shortly thereafter we harvested d) apricots and made them into jam. Mmmmm.

After getting some homemade relish last year, I decided to plant cucumbers so I could make my own. All my cucumbers were bitter, and I was likely bitterly disappointed. I then discovered a recipe to can zucchini relish. It's a sweet relish with onions, corn, and peppers. It's fabulous on burgers and like it's garden source, I've got it coming out my ears.

Relish anyone?

Tell you what, you all leave me a comment with your favorite canning recipe or food preservation tip and I will send a randomly drawn person a jar of this stuff.

So to make up for my canning shortfall from the garden, I decided to can some dry goods. To do this, I reserved a beastly heavy machine from the Bishop's Storehouse. You have to reserve these machines several months in advance.

For 4 days I filled large cans with flour, sugar, rice, dried milk, beans, and oats. I figured out how much to buy according to my family's need through this food storage calculator.

By the end of the week, I had #10 cans lying all over the house. Rainbow Girl artistically stacked them into pyramids.

My house was also disgusting by the end of the week. There's nothing quite like a distracted mom and wandering kids to turn your house upside down.

My storage room is getting fuller, and I happily sit awaiting the apocalypse.

The great thing about renting the canning machine is that you can seal up stuff they won't let you at The Bishop's Storehouse. Here's some garden seeds I sealed up so I can try another harvest of ideas in the future. I also canned some popcorn which should grind up into some yummy cornmeal.

Ten-four over and out!
Mrs. Olsen


Jenny said...

OK, I definitely think you are a canning wizard! You are awesome! I'm so impressed! I have a lot to learn...

Let's see, canning or food preservation tip... I drastically need help in this area.

Here is my contribution: Buy bulk chocolate and store in an tupperware bin.

Good chocolate lasts a long time- I bought an 11 pound block of it a year and a half ago and I just finished using it today- and it was delicious.

I used Callebaut chocolate (very good) and you can buy it online from bulk/wholesale providers. Believe me, if you're a chocolate fan you save tons of money doing it this way. Plus it's so satisfying cutting it off the block and weighing it out. yum.

So there is, eh uh, my food preservation tip.

In an emergency, I would still love chocolate. Plus what a great trade in an emergency- I'll give you some fine european chocolate for some of those farm fresh eggs.

Lee Family said...

I'm impressed.
I seriously have no canning tips or ideas. Oh wait, yes I do. For the powdered milk, I bought strawberry nesquik because I know my kids will not want to drink powdered milk.
is that a good idea? or does that even count?

Monica said...

Wow! I had no idea you were working so hard on your food storage. Way to go! My neighbor gave me this recipe for pie filling and it was my favorite thing I canned this year:

Apple Pie Filling - Makes 7 quarts or 14 pints

6 lbs of apples, peeled and cored and sliced

4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons salt
10 cups water
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg in a pan . Add salt and water. Bring to a boil and cook until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and add lemon juice.

Pack the sliced apples into hot canning jars (pack tightly so you get a lot of apples in there). Fill jars with syrup, remove air bubbles. Process for 20 minutes.


Mrs. Olsen said...

Monica, Do you pack the apples in there uncooked? I thought all canned foods needed to be really hot to kill bacteria. Or does the saucy sauce heat/kill for the uncooked apples?

lee family- I have kids so nesquik definitely counts.

Jenny, chocolate? Thank you for broadening my horizons.

Kristen said...

Oops. Is that true that the apples have to be cooked before canning? Holly and I just canned pie filling with uncooked apples. Are we going to die?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you pack the apples in the bottles uncooked. Your processing time is enough to seal the bottles and kill bacteria. If you cook the apples beforehand, they end up soggy.