Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene Canning Session!

Gail & I ended up picking the perfect weekend for a massive canning session! While Irene inched up the coast and made landfall we were canning like mad. Here is the final haul after a weekends worth of hard work:
Let me just say: that is A LOT of canning for one weekend - 12 quarts, 8 pints, & 30 half pints!!! A mix of tomato sauce, beet relish, corn relish, and garlic pineapple salsa!!
The tomato sauce is chock full of tomato seconds & onions from our friends at Kimball Fruit Farm, as well as tomatoes, peppers, garlic, basil, and oregano from our garden! We have a simple hand-crank tomato mill to juice the 25lb boxes of tomato seconds we pick up from the market. Once we've gathered a few gallons of juice we cook it down and add onions, diced tomato chunks, garlic, and spices to our preference. When we feel the sauce is the right consistency we jar it and process it! We made 12 quarts and 3 pints of sauce this batch to go with the 11 quarts we've previously made.
The Corn Relish recipe is easy and can be found in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving and the always wonderful Beet Relish recipe is the same one from last summer because there is no sense is messing with a perfect thing!
Finally, the salsa. I had scanned cookbooks and the internet and went over hundreds of Salsa recipes. Not finding one that was just right I decided to make my own, and the results were great! This is a delicious Pineapple Garlic salsa with oven roasted tomatoes.

Garlic Pineapple Salsa
12-15 big tomatoes, diced
3 onions, diced
15 cloves of garlic, finely diced
6 jalapeno's seeded, diced
6-8 hot peppers seeded, diced
3 cups diced pineapple
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon chili flakes (more if you like it spicier)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
Wash & train tomatoes, Peel, seed, and dice into 1/4 in pieces.
Remove seeds from hot peppers, place in a small bowl. Pour boiling water over hot peppers just to cover, allowing peppers to steep for 10-12 minutes. Drain half the water. Puree hot pepeprs and remaining water in a food processor for 1 minute.
Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture thickens.
Ladle hot salsa into sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 15 minutes in water bath canner.

Like I said the salsa turned out great!! So great that the picture of all the cans on our table is missing a pint jar of salsa because we managed to eat it all in about a day!

With the canning, herb preservation, frozen breads, and other stuff we are ending up with a nice little stock of home preserved foods. Once schedules here calm down a little bit I will have to conduct a tour and tally of all the stuff we are storing!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Harvest Monday August 29th 2011

The trickle of tomatoes and peppers kept rolling along this week as we had a few decent sized harvests. We also harvested the first few french breakfast radishes which you can see poking out of the bowl of jalapenos in the lower left hand corner of the above photo.
Here is a look at our full harvest for the week:
Jalapeno Peppers - 8.35 oz
Cubanelle Peppers - 3.65 oz
Gypsy Peppers - 7.85 oz
Bell Peppers - 1.47 lbs (23.65 oz)
Wax Peppers - 12.00 oz
Tomato - 2.92 lbs (46.80 oz)
Radish - 1.85 oz
Rosemary - .45 oz
Sage - 1.0 oz
Basil 3.0 oz
Total for the week: 6.787 lbs (108.6 oz)
Total for the season: 30.58 lbs (489.40 oz)
Almost halfway to last year's harvest total!! I am curious to see how close we come to last years total- I guess only time will tell.

With the high winds, tons of rain, and threat of damage from hurricane Irene we will see what next weeks harvest entails. We are also planning to redo the exterior fence around our garden next weekend.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Harvest Monday August 22nd 2011

Another week, another harvest slowly rolling in. This post is a little rushed as it is late Sunday night and I have just returned from a beach weekend, so not so much details besides the nitty-gritty of what was harvested this week:

Tomato: 1.72 lb (27.55 oz)
Rosemary .35 oz
Oregano: .75 oz
Mint: .10 oz
Bell Pepper: 3.60 oz
Cubanelle Pepper: 3.85 oz
Wax Pepper : 4.05 oz
Jalapeno Pepper: 2.45 oz
Total for the week: 2.67 lbs (42.70 oz)
Total for the season: 23.80 lbs (380.75 oz)

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions, the home of Harvest Monday.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

More Canning: Green Bean & Zucchini Chutney & Dilly Beans

The canning trend continue this past weekend. Gail was away and I had worked nearly 9 hours in the garden so I wanted a canning project that was on the 'easier' side. I had picked up a few pounds of green beans at Thursdays farmers market. A few more simple ingredients and I had all I needed for Green Bean & Zucchini Chutney!
Over the course of an evening I went from:
to a finally product that was cooked over low heat for over 90 minutes! I don't know how the final result will taste because it needs to sit for a month to allow the flavors to mature, but the little bit of leftovers I had were superb:
Green Bean & Zucchini Chutney
Males 3-5 pints
1 1/4 lb green beans, thinly sliced
4 zucchini, thinly sliced
3/4 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored, and chopped.
2 onions finely chopped
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cups cider vinegar
Put the beans, zucchini, apples, and onions in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot then add the sugar, mustard powder, turmeric and coriander seeds. Pour in the vinegar and stir.
Cook over low heat, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil and cook at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring from time to time until mixture has thickened. Continuously stir near the end of the cooking time so that the chutney doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
Ladle into sterilized mason jars leaving 1/4 in headspace and make sure there are no gaps. Process using water bath canning method for 10 minutes then let cool. Make sure jars are sealed.
Allow flavors to mature for a month. Refrigerate after opening. The recipe yielded 2 pints & 2 1/2 pints
As I said- I don't know how the final product will taste, but there was a little bit leftover that I had the next morning and it was delicious! I can't wait to try it!
We had some green beans leftover when the chutney was done so I also whipped up a pint and 2 1/2 pints of Dilly Beans!
Dilly Beans
2 lbs green beans, trimmed to fit your jars
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you really like spicy food!)
4 teaspoons dill
4 cloves of garlic
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 1/2 cups of water
1/4 cup pickling salt
mustard seed to taste
Wash and trim beans to make sure they fit in your jars. Combine vinegar, water, and salt in medium saucepan and bring to a boil. While it is heating pack your beans into the jar, adding 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 clove of garlic, a teaspoon of dill, and mustard seed to each jar.
Pour boiling brine over beans. Process for 5 minutes using water bath canning method. Let sit up to 2 weeks for flavors to develop.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Harvest Monday August 15th 2011

The tomatoes continued to roll in a few at a time this week, while I did my best to pick any peppers that had sized up before they started to rot, which has been a problem lately due to the colder temperatures and recent rains. I've lost a few wax & jalapeno peppers as a result. I'm slowly cutting some herbs down and bringing them home for drying, meaning a slight uptick in the minuscule herb totals. I also harvested the last of the huckleberry for the year. The one huckleberry plant yielded 1.8 lbs of berries! I could have let the plant grow into the fall until the cold killed it off, but the space it was in was destined for some additional Kale and in desperate need of tidying so it was time for the plant to go.

This Week's Harvest:
Tomatoes 2.09 lbs (33.50 oz)
Jalapeno Peppers 3.25 oz
Cubanelle Peppers 2.45 oz
Bell Peppers 3.50 oz
Wax Peppers 2.45 oz
Huckleberry 5.60 oz
Walking Onion 4.80 oz
Oregano .20 oz
Mint .20 oz
Rosemary .15 oz
Sage 1.75 oz
Total Harvest for this week: 3.62 lbs (57.85 oz)
Total for the season: 21.14 lbs (338.20 oz)

A little more planting for fall and next spring this up coming week, and hopefully warm enough temperatures that I'll be bringing home a few more red tomatoes! Watching them trickle in 1 or 2 at a time is maddening!
If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty visit Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Garlic Review & Lessons Learned.

My experiment growing garlic was a mild success and offered a few lessons. The garlic itself grew pretty well. Of the 31 cloves of garlic we planted last fall 28 of them produced garlic that we harvested. Between the 'green' spring garlic we picked early and the bunch I was able to dry we got a total of 1.11 lbs of garlic. 28/31 is a result I am happy with, but like I said there were lessons learned.
Lesson 1 - Patience. As it was our first attempt growing garlic we ended up pulling a good amount early as a way to check our progress, and use some of the garlic when it was still young and fresh. We also pulled the garlic a little on the early side. Next year we will still probably pull some spring garlic, but maybe a little less, and I will try and be more patient and give the garlic the final few weeks of growth it needs.
Lesson 2 - Salt marsh hay & leaves are an excellent overwintering mulch. After planting the garlic, walking onions, and relocating some chives last fall I covered them all in a thick layer of fallen leaves and salt marsh hay, and when Gail and I returned in April and cleared away the straw and leaves I found all the garlic, walking onions, and chives were flourishing!
Lesson 3- find garlic you like & plant more of it! The elephant garlic produced the biggest heads but the German Purple & Ukrainian hard neck varieties had the most flavor, while the soft neck produced smaller heads with a lighter flavor. I have set aside some of the best Ukrainian & German Purple heads we grew for planting this fall, as well as picking up additional heads from the farms that grow them.
All in all between the farms and the harvested garlic we set aside I should be able to plant in a larger bed this fall, leading to more garlic next year! Hopefully we will get enough next summer that I can self seed the following year!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Zucchini Breads

(Zucchini Bread & Homemade Jam)

With gardens and farms alike exploding with massive zucchini it is a good time to buy in bulk and make some treats to enjoy now as well as save for later! Though we weren't able to successfully grow zucchini this year (or last!) I was able to pick up a few huge zucchini for a great price at a local farmers market. My thoughts had turned to fall and winter. In college a good friend would always show up with his mom's homemade zucchini bread after visiting home, it was so delicious I've been hooked on zucchini bread ever since.
(Slices of plain & chocolate Zucchini Bread)

One thing that is great about most zucchini bread recipes is that they yield enough batter for 2 loaves, or a loaf and muffins! Over the course of the past week Gail and I have made a few batches of delicious Zucchini bread's! We even made an extra large batch that was ruined thanks to an uncooperative oven, nonetheless the final product is great! We ended up with fresh loaves of Chocolate and Original Zucchini bread, as well as a frozen loaf of each, and a batch of chocolate zucchini muffins!
(2 loaves! One for now, one to freeze for later)
Zucchini Bread
yields 2 loaves or 2 dozen muffins
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 2/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans or Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar followed by the vanilla and zucchini.
In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix into the egg mixture.
Divide the batter into prepared pans. Bake loaves for55-60 minutes, checking after 45 until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake in 20-25 minutes.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
yields 2 loaves or 2 dozen muffin
2 cups of flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups grated zucchini
3/4 cups mini chocolate chips.
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans or Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Mix topping ingredients in a small bowl and put aside.
Place flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a small bowl and whisk to combine, set aside.
With a hand mixer beat oil, white sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until combined and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined. Gently stir in the great zucchini.
Take a spoonful of the flour mix and stir in with the chocolate chips. Add remaining flour mixture to the batter and stir until combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until combined.
Divide the batter into prepared pans. Bake loaves for 50-60 minutes, checking after 45 until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins bake up in about 12 minutes.

There you have it, 2 ass-kicking good Zucchini Bread recipes. The plain is great with a dollop of homemade jam like in the first picture, and the chocolate is decadent and rich all on its own!

What do you do with all of your zucchini??

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cannin' & Jammin'

It's that time of year for many. With harvests so plentiful people are rushing to preserve some of their favorites to enjoy throughout the year. Making jams, jellies, butters, sauces, preserves, dehydrating, drying herbs, freezing, pickling, the ways to preserve food from our gardens are as seemingly endless. Matched only by all the wonderful combinations many canning & food preservation recipes call for.
This past weekend Gail and I learned a few more lessons on canning while making batches of Cranberry-Jalapeno & Spiced Port + Plum Jams. We ended up with a nice little haul that we look forward to sharing with others, as well as saving some for ourselves:
Above is our final haul after a second attempt at jam making- 4 pints & 4 1/2 pints of Cranberry Jalapeno Jam & 4 pints & 9 1/2 pints of Spiced Port & Plum Jam. Why yes, I did say second attempt. The first attempt proved to be pretty fruitless (ha!). One recipe called for liquid pectin, which I didn't have so I tried to substitute powdered but did a poor job converting. The other recipe did not call for pectin at all, and I think it would have solidified nicely but I do not think I cooked down the original batch enough for it to solidify with the pectin found in the lime juice that was used.
All in all the final result is 2 really delicious jams and some lessons learned.
Lesson 1 - Patience. Let the jam cook slowly and allow it to thicken
Lesson 2 - Try to get the correct ingredients
Lesson 3 - Sterilizing the jars and making 2 batches of jam is fine, but having to go through the entire process twice is a real pain in the ass!
That third lesson is what I will have in mind when I make more jams in the future, but the final products are quite delicious!
Cranberry Jalapeno Jam
1/4 lb of finely diced Jalapenos other Hot Peppers
3/4 lb of Cranberries
1/3 cup lemon juice
5 1/2 cups of sugar
1 1/2 cups of cider vinegar
6 oz liquid pectin
In a food processor grind the peppers and berries with 1/2 cup of cider vinegar. Add remaining cider vinegar and slowly heat. Once starting to bubble add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Slowly head the mixture until at a rolling boil. Once at a boil, cook for 5 minutes then add pectin and boil an additional 2 minutes.
Ladle into jars leaving 1/4 in. of clearance. Water bath process for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and seal.
This jam is really versatile and can be served mixed with cream cheese as a dip, or with crackers, bagels, tea breads, with roast beef, pork, or chicken.
Makes 6-10 pints
We used a mix of Jalapenos and Wax peppers from our own Garden!! We were also short some cranberries so I added a little bit of huckleberry to make up the difference. Each huckleberry has a ton of seeds so it gives the Jam a nice little 'crunch' without changing the taste.

Spiced Port & Plum Jelly
4lb plums, halved and pitted
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half (or more if you desire a greater 'spice')
Juice of 1 lime
6 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2-3 tbsp port (or more if you like)
1 packet dry pectin (optional)
Add the plums cinnamon, and lime juice to a heavy bottomed saucepan, then pour over 2 cups of water. Simmer gently over low heat for 20-25 minutes or until plums start to break down and soften. Add the sugar, stirring in slowly until it has all dissolved, then bring to a boil and keep at a rolling boil for 6-8 minutes or until the jam begins to thicken and reach the setting point.
Discard the cinnamon stick, stir in the port, and ladle into jars.
Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Allow to cool and seal.
makes 6 pints.
This jam is... great! A nice balance of spice and sweet. I can imagine using it as a topping for ice cream, yet it is equally delicious on a piece of banana or zucchini bread.

Though all of the jam had to be made twice, which was more then a little tiring and frustrating the final product is worth it. Hopefully my friends, family and I will enjoy the fruits of all our labor.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harvest Monday August 8th 2011

It has been a very productive week in the garden! The previously mentioned plethora of peppers was great. We got a nice mix of all the peppers we have available in the garden including quite a few orange ones which was an improvement on last year! We also so the striped roma tomatoes start to roll in as well!
Here is what we harvested this week:
Bell Peppers: 9.65 oz
Cubanelle Peppers: 7.85 oz
Gypsy Peppers: 5.30 oz
Jalapeno Peppers: 8.80 oz
Wax Peppers: 7.85 oz
Tomatoes: 13.35 oz
Carrot: 1.65 oz
Basil: 1.42 lbs (22.65) oz
Sage: .35 oz
Rosemary: .25 oz
Mint: .25 oz
Total Harvest for this week: 4.87 lbs (77.97 oz)
Total for the season: 17.52 lbs (280.35 oz)

This coming week calls for some on and off rains, which will be helpful for some of the fall crops I've already planted, but will most likely lead to fewer trips to the garden until it clears up!

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty visit Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Plethora of Peppers

We've been treated to a plethora of peppers this week!! Wednesday I came home with a nice variety - At least one of every pepper I've got growing except Jalapeno! From Left to Right in the below picture: Bell Pepper, Hungarian Wax Pepper, Cubanelle, & a Gypsy Pepper. With the first striped roma of the season in the front:
2 days later I came back from the garden with a bigger pile of peppers. Temperatures were less humid and dropping enough that I thought it would be good to bring home more of all my peppers, including 8 Jalapenos!
If it were a little hotter for a few more weeks some of the cubanelle's and bell's would finish off nicely, but they still taste great when they are green!

Friday, August 5, 2011

First Paste Tomato

The first Striped Roma paste tomato was brought home on Wednesday!!! It looks like there are a few more ready to turn a vibrant mix of red and yellow that may make it home before the end of the week!
I've updated the Tomato Watch in the sidebar with this year's first tomato harvests!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Harvest Monday August 1st 2011

Peppers. A plethora of peppers is what we got for this weeks harvest. Along with a basket of dry (finally!) garlic and one more Cherokee Purple tomato! Still waiting on a Striped Roma but I have a feeling they will all come at once! You can see the garlic along with the bell pepper and the Cherokee Purple I brought home on Wednesday. More peppers came on Friday(see picture below) and on Sunday we brought another 6 Jalapeno's home, along with a container full of huckleberries!
Here's what we harvested this week:
Garlic(dry): 7.25 oz
Huckleberry: 11.10 oz
Pepper (Bell): 4.95 oz
Pepper (Cubanelle): 4.20 oz
Pepper (Gypsy): 3.40 oz
Pepper (Jalapeno): 4.70 oz
Pepper (Wax): 3.05 oz
Tomato: 5.90 oz
This week's total: 2.78 lbs (44.55 oz)
Total for the season: 12.65 lbs (202.40 oz)

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty visit Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday!