Canning Fall harvests

With temperatures lowering, most folk have already put their gardens to bed.. We are still pulling every last fruit of the year from pepper and tomato plants.

We had the single freezing temps hit on Monday morn. When we got up at 5am, we were still at 34F, close but above.. as the morning bloom, the temps dropped. by 7am, the predicted 32F had settled in. Fortunately, frost takes its time to hit up here as any attempt seems to simply roll down hill from the gardens. By 8am, we were back to the mid thirties as the day slowly warmed. Frost did hit, but only the rigs drive and spotty around the fields and meadows, the gardens had come through just fine. Oh, they did slow down, but they are still putting on new peppers and tomatoes are slowly swelling. Once the weather changes over to our short rainy season, I’ll pull all peppers and green tomatoes.

Any green crops that come in have a choice of preservations…..

Peppers either get dried for use through out the year, or they get put into our Salsa Verde recipe we worked up back nearly a decade ago now. Though, during record ( for us ) crop years , I made up a ton of salsa, which, with us just being the two of us , We still have lots. Other than the Salsa Verde, I made up a bunch of a darker roasted salsa, which we like as well on chips and such, but where that shines in our cooking, adding both flavor and heat. Habaneros being the main source, though far from only, our salsas tend to be on the warm side.

Tomatoes, also have a couple ways to go… Green; when I have peppers and want to make the Salsa Verde, of course, go into that.. The rest of the time, Tomatoes sit on paper plates by the windows to ripen and so long as they have any hint of blush to begin with, we get to use them fresh or to set up for pasta sauce; Blanched then frozen, they wait until I have enough to set things up for Ma, my better half, to season up the best pasta sauce I have ever tasted…..Which, brings us back to today.

Friday, I brought in the 22 quart roaster and enough bags of frozen, blanched tomatoes to over fill it. Letting them cook down over night, First thing Saturday morning, Ma had me cutting up veggies to get things going. Once they were cooked down, I blended it all to prep for Ma’s magic.

Ma put in the first run of herbs; from our herb gardens and let them cook in for several hours. Checking them once we felt things had spent themselves had in the blending, Ma checked and added more seasonings. All of this, once again, cooked low and slow overnight. Ma checked the sauce this morning, giving it the “Go” for me to set up for pressure canning today.

So, I sit, watching the pressure on the canner while I write the post.

We still have a few more bags of tomatoes in the deep freeze. I hope there will be enough for about half of what this batch will make up.. I need to make a town run early on this week, so we will see if I get it done before the weekend or not. Once I get all the sauce canned, Then I’ll start in on the Cherries, Currants and Elderberries. Juice, jelly and syrup, in that order…. I have to make sure I get the bits I need to finish off the syrup before I start on all of that. This last week’s town run was cut short when the pharmacy buggered my prescript , so, I made a short day of it, knowing I had another run soon to come. At least picking up a bunch of our needs on the last trip should help cut down on this trip, though I have way more places to stop than the norm…

I think the worst part about pressure canning isn’t the warm up time, that is usually pretty short as I have things heating while I fill, nor even the staring at the pressure gauge for the run….. It’s the dang cool down time… That drives me nuts as I watch the pressure slowly go down, and I am not about to pop the lid as soon as the pressure drops.. not after the turkey soup explosion a few years back .

Until I retired last October, so one full year ago now…

(.because I had my years in and eye damage, neck and back having a couple critical spots all from work, and funnily enough THAT is the reasoning Workman’s Comp refused to help on any of it..because THAT makes sense…)

We use to do all of the canning and such during our Fall ( and Anniversary) holiday. We had a water bath and Four pressure canners running at the same time out on the deck while three roaster ovens ran inside on counters and we were doing the water bath inside on the stove.

Busy as HELL is what that was. Apples just coming off in the first harvest for cider and sauce, tomatoes, peppers, Zukes all coming in from the gardens. Turkey, and chicken made into stock, some of the meats canned and soup starter from the meat that came out of the stock while Pull Pork came off the smoker and canned along with Baked Beans……

While we were running back and forth between jobs, I would check pressure gauges, a near full time job alone. Outside we have, as we all know, a full time breeze to heavy winds and yes, those days were not exempt. Any breeze once it got over 10mph would either knock out of bloom the flames from the propane fixing the problem some took me standing in the correct spot until a stiff gust was past… I also was the one pulling the items from the pressure cookers as I was mostly the outdoor dude….. Which rounds out the story…

I had each pressure cooker going off at a separate time as each took its own time to hit pressure in the first place…. While I was bouncing around, pulling tops and then canned goods, the pot with turkey soup had finished its time cooling…ahhh, but not quite.. The pressure down, I vented what was left, pressure wise, then pulled the top….

Fortunately, I was on the deck and not in the kitchen when one of the jar’s lid blew. It went right through the ring, which I tossed afterwards spraying boiling pressurized Turkey, veggies and stock above the roof of the house and all over the deck, and myself.. Soooooooo… now I let things cool until there is no pressure nor can I hear water making any noise…works fine indoors, outside; too much noise from boiling water, steam, propane, flame and winds… I can, well, can whenever.. we don’t have that rush.

Along with the canning, I have been drying herbs and peppers this week. I have a large amount of Parsley , and another run of Rosemary dried and waiting to get packed up. We have habaneros, Poblanos, Sweet Hots, and the last of the Chocolate Sweet Hots, along with another Zen accidental hybrid.. habaneros that are multi-colored.. each pepper is.. Pretty cool looking, don’t know if the seeds will replicate it or the chocolate SHs…Hope so.

In the shop

I finally got in the parts for the next Strat build ( guitar ).. I need to do my measuring now then cutting and routing. No idea if I’ll have time to get the finish done before weather gets too cold or not.. it isn’t way up on my TO DO list.

Ma’s knitting and spinning

I also was playing with the lathe to make some toys for Ma’s spinning. It was pretty cool to grab a piece of firewood out of the wood shed and make it into a Diz and a Nostapinne for Ma.

Ma’s spin on the bunnie ; 4 oz

Ma is spinning up more Shetland, Satin Angora ( Bunnie) and Silk blended batts for a project later on. When she does, the bunnie goes everywhere. Ma’s clothes are covered as is the towel for her lap and the couch and carpet…LOL.. But, it’ll be warm once all the messy work is done and Ma enjoys spinning…a few hairs doesn’t mean all that much, especially as we both raised several animals over the least the batts do not eat kitty litter Almond Rochas or chew on table lags and shoes, nor do they tear out the backs and arms of chairs or do bad things in plant pots or carpet…. So, yeh.. a few hairs to vac up? No worries.

She also has a shawl on her needles when she gets too sore for spinning. A pair of socks for me that needed mending on the heel, so she frogged all the way down to the heel, and just reknit it instead of doing a darning patch, much neater and nicer looking. She also finished up a swatch for another sweater she is planning on making, but this she is not using homespun, and the yarn is superwash, in case it gets thrown in the washing machine as the sweater is not for either of us, we only hand wash all of Ma’s woolies she makes for us.

Ma working away by the fire, canning in the kitchen and herbs drying all tosses you back in time to a quieter era . Even though I can hear someone running a tractor in the distance, it makes this a pretty quiet and timeless spot on this mellow days of Fall…

Final Thoughts

Rain is suppose to come in sometime today, then for the better part of the next ten days or so…. No idea just how much that will really be up here. Already this morning, while I was checking the gardens, you could feel the mist on the crisp air, fog rolling by to the North and South. Dark clouds overhead, which I understand annoys a lot of folk, but they aren’t the ones living under drought conditions, so I will enjoy my clouds, plus it is easier on my old eyes…

Rut is just now starting up here for our deer and we have had a chance to see a couple big boys come through as well as the little guys chasing the girls.

I was set up to catch a shot of one of the boys jumping the fence, but, he waited until that second I looked up from the camera… I missed it…jerk…

As we go through rut and later into Fall, I’ll try to get up some pics and blatherings about the rut..

I also have a bunch of Ma pics and stories to get up …all in due time…and before you know it, It’ll be Yule with my series then, unlikely I’ll toss them up like last year, but there will be a few anyway…

I hope we have a long rainy season. Snow can hold till Yule and I’d be just fine with that…. The longer I have to get some harvest in, the better.

We ended up with 14 quarts of sauce out of the 22 quarts of goodies we started with… Less than we figured on , but not bad at all. Definitely not having pasta every week, but there ya go.

With the canning already finished and as I wind down yet another Post, I sit now watching deer here and there about the meadows and fields with a buck here and another there annoying the girls. The hummies are down to our main family and soon, down to our winter hums. The cold snap pissed them off sending some to town to spend the chill weather at the Hummie Brownstone, watching Big Screen IPad with surround sound AirPods slipped into the corner of Hummie’s HumCave while they sip on Ma’s Super Juice that they sneak off with and horde like the rest of us.

Before Long, Hummie, himself, will head down do deal with all his kids and their kids in the Humstone…. It’s no wonder we generally have two or three of the younger adults stay until the bitter end rather than a house full of rampaging Hummie youths.

But… Today, they bustle about the house, peeking in one window or another to figure out where Ma and I are. Lass ALWAYS finds me, no matter where I am at, when I look out the window, she is casually hanging out on a fence or tree keeping an eye on me. When I go out to the gardens, she is soon overhead chatting away.. When I am in the shop, she’ll flying in, sitting by the overhead lights or hovering over me explaining exactly how I am making a mess of things.

Each morning I look out to a new dawn, a new sunrise and think;

Yup, Just another day on Zen Mountain

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