The sun room is starting to get too cold and night to leave our harvests in it anymore. This morning, I went through them and binned them up.
All of the carrots, both types, filled one bin enough that the lid can’t quite close. Those will need to be taken care of quickly. The Black Nebula carrots are already getting wimpy!
All the gourds will go someplace warm and dry to finish curing.
The Tropeana Lunga onions are growing rather than curing, so they will go to the kitchen for fresh eating and dehydrating.
The hulless seed pumpkins that have ripened the most will be moved inside to ripen some more, while the remaining ones were shifted around on their shelf to get more sunlight. We should be able to get away with leaving those there for a while longer.
The tomatoes that are ripening were laid out in a single layer on the bottom of a bin to go inside for further ripening. The green ones that have shown no signs of turning colour by now are not going to, so they all went into one small bin. I picked through them in the process of sorting through, and the more wizened ones went into compost. The rest will go to the kitchen as we decide what to do with them. The problem is, I’m not the tomato person in this household, so I’m not exactly inspired over them!
Now that these are clear of the sun room, we’ll be able to continue cleaning out and partially reorganizing the sun room for the winter.
A lot of the tomatoes we set up in the sun room are slowly ripening. There isn’t enough to bother cooking them into a sauce or whatever, but more than we can conveniently eat, so I’ve started dehydrating them in the oven.
It’s mostly Yellow Pear tomatoes that we have, and they are so small, I am dehydrating them on parchment paper. I had two baking sheets full, but when they were mostly dry and quite shrunken, I combined them into one.
That jar is all of them!
Once I’d combined the Yellow Pear tomatoes, I set up a cooling rack and started dehydrating some Cup of Moldova tomatoes. Once the Yellow Pear tomatoes were done, I filled the baking sheet again with more of them. That finished off what I’d picked earlier, but this morning I gathered more ripe tomatoes!
I am considering powdering the yellow tomatoes, and doing some of the red ones in olive oil. Or just powdering the whole lot of them. They’ll take up less space that way. It’ll be a while before they’re all dehydrated, so I have time to decide.
As I’m writing this, I am hearing the wind pick up outside, and the trees are starting to get whipped about. While today’s high is supposed to be 17C/63F, tomorrow is supposed to have a high of only 3C/37F. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 1C/34F, but tomorrow night we’re supposed to drop to -3C/27F.
This morning, I canned up the crab apple sauce I started on last night.
It took about 2 hours to go through and cut up the crab apples in one bin – and that’s the one that had apples taken from it for the large batch crab apple cider vinegar, and a small bucket set aside for my mother.
Who has told me she doesn’t want any more apples. She had been appled out. So we still have another bin, plus the bucket!, to process.
The cut up apple pieces filled my giant stock pot to about 2/3 full.
A few cups of water was added to start the cooking process, and it was then boiled until mushy. Which took remarkably little time.
It stained my new giant wooden spoon pink! 😂
All the instructions I read said to peel and core the apples – which was not going to happen with such small apples! – unless you had a food mill to remove the skins and seeds later.
I don’t have a food mill.
I did recently acquire this…
I picked this up at a dollar store for a completely different purpose. I needed something finer than our colanders, but strong than our big sieve. This turned out to be perfect to use as a substitute food mill. I put in a couple of ladles of cooked pulp at a time, then used a silicon spoon/spatula to push it through, before scraping up the leavings and putting it into a bucket for the compost and moving on to the next batch.
I used our taller, normal sized stock pot for this, which conveniently has measurements marked on the inside.
The strained sauce was just shy of 6 quarts.
It was also very runny.
For the next step, the girls took over, in the early hours of the morning. They tasted it to see if it needed sugar, then cooked it down to thicken it a bit. I forgot to ask if they added sugar, but after tasting in myself, I don’t think they did. These crab apples are very sweet-tart on their own.
They cooked down the sauce by a couple of inches to make it thicker. That done, it was my turn again. I sterilized a dozen 500 ml (pint) jars, then canned up the sauce – a job that seemed to go much faster than I expected!
I could hear the lids popping on some of them, even as I removed them from the water bath!
When done, there was 10 jars of sauce, plus one that was about 3/4 full to go to the fridge, for eating right away. These just need to sit until tomorrow, then they’ll go back into the jar case and be ready for storage for the winter. 😊
I’m quite happy with how these turned out. Love that colour, too!
Now… what to do with the rest of the apples? This is more than enough apple sauce to last us; it’s not something we eat often.
I suppose I could just trim and freeze them for later.
On another note, with the season changing, I’ve asked the girls to switch back to “day shift”. There are things we need to do before winter that require an extra person. Which will mostly be my younger daughter, since my older daughter will have commissions to work on, but she will also be coming out to help as much as she can.
I expected to do more canning this year, but the garden just wasn’t productive enough for it – but more on that in my next post!
My plans for yard work would have had to change, anyway, as we are now getting a steady rainfall right now, but there was plenty to work on indoors instead.
The kitties were getting pretty wet, so I left the sun room doors propped open. I’ve discovered why I’ve been finding things knocked out of the top shelf of the shelf shelter. Despite the two bottom shelves being set aside for the cats, some of the little kittens have been climbing up into the top shelf, where all sorts of miscellaneous stuff are kept, and sleeping on some pieces of rigid insulation in one corner! So I am leaving the sun room available for them to shelter in, more comfortably.
Because I’m a suck, when it comes to the kitties! 😁
Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to my brother on the phone, in between his attempts to call my mother. He started trying early enough to catch her before she went to church, but she wasn’t answering. It turned out she was watching her religious programming on TV and wasn’t answering the phone. Then she went to church, and stayed out for hours after.
I got a message from him after he finally got through to her, well into the afternoon. My mother’s apartment was going to be sprayed for bed bugs again.
She was wondering about staying in a hotel again, since she has to stay away for 12 hours.
So I called her, but her Polish program was on. It was almost 4, so when she said she would call me back when it was done to talk about the bed bug spraying, I said fine.
An hour later, I finally called her myself. I could hear the TV still going, and there was another Polish mass about to start. She wouldn’t have called me back until ALL her Polish shows were done! Meanwhile, I’d delayed working on supper so I could answer the phone without being in the middle of cooking – and I’d already skipped lunch (I lost track of time and forgot to eat).
My mother has zero respect for other people’s time, but expects everyone else to respect hers.
We talked about her apartment being sprayed again. She did not want to stay at a hotel again, because it’s so expensive (it was actually very cheap, but she doesn’t know what hotel stays usually cost these days). So, she asks me… What was I going to do with her for the day?
What we finally worked out is that I will wait until I get a call from her, letting me know the exterminators have arrived – which I am doing right now, as I write this. They can show up any time between 9am and 4pm. I will then go pick her up, and we will run an errand for her in the city near my sister’s place, and then she wanted to visit my sister.
Who works a 5pm to 1am shift today.
I told her to call my sister first, to make sure stopping by was okay.
Then we’ll have to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. Even then, she’ll end up having to hang out in the lobby or something before she can go back into her apartment. Unlike her neighbours, who can go back after 6 hours, because they don’t have respiratory conditions.
But she won’t stay at a hotel again.
I also had a talk to her about letting me know right away, if her apartment is going to be sprayed again. She got the letter last week, and just didn’t bother telling anyone. I have no idea what she planned to do, had my brother not gotten through to her and then told me.
So my day today is completely gone. I can’t even start anything, unless I can drop it as soon as she calls.
One of the things I wanted to do was get crab apple cider vinegar going. I ended up having to ask my daughters to do it overnight which, of course, changed their plans, too.
They were sweethearts about it, though, and we now have three 1 gallon jars in the big aquarium, safe from cats, fermenting. This time, not only did we stick with just cheesecloth to cover the jars, but the apples are weighted down with slide lock bags filled with water to keep them submerged.
They didn’t use up even half of the apples I picked yesterday!
If I had more jars like this, we’d be making more. As it is, I did have a fourth jar, but after talking to my mother about what we were planning to do with the apples, she asked for a gallon jar so she could make sauerkraut. She wanted one of her old jars in the basement, but those have been sitting for more than a decade. I’ve actually gone through and washed the dozens of jars I found down there, and those particular jars are only being kept because we will used them to make bottle bricks for the walls of the cordwood shed we will be building. I would not consider them food safe anymore. So I’m bringing her one of our newer jars, instead.
So the apples will be used to make hard crab apple cider, instead – though that won’t be started on until probably tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I still did my morning rounds, which included a small harvest.
I had not yet washed these. They are wet from the rain.
There were some summer squash I could have picked, but I decided to leave them to get a bit bigger. I was able to hand pollinate some other squash, though. Which is interesting, when the flowers have puddles of rainwater in them!
According to the long range forecast, we’ve got at least a couple of weeks of hot, mostly dry weather. After that, the overnight lows are expected to be just a few degrees above freezing. I’m hoping that changes. If we have the month of September with no frost, there’s still a chance for some things to mature.
We have more red tomatoes that I should pick later today, or tomorrow morning. The paste tomatoes will go straight into the freezer with the others, until there is enough to start making tomato paste. The others will likely be dehydrated.
Our first attempt at dehydrating them worked, but took a long time. We kept needing the oven for other things. Though my daughter did not slice them super thin, they shrank so much, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get them off the rack they were on. They came off surprisingly well, though.
It was just one tray of tomatoes, so it’s not a lot, but I definitely think it is worth doing again.
Along with the red tomatoes, the Yellow Pear tomatoes have something to pick almost every day.
I did break down and taste on of them. After all, I’d been able to eat the tiny Spoon tomatoes without gagging. Maybe I could eat these ones, too?
The Chocolate Cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, are finally starting to turn colour, but it will still be a while before we can harvest any of them.
We most definitely need a mild September. Hopefully, a mild October, too!
Ah, well. Whatever happens, happens. We’ll deal with it.
Hmm. I really should be making myself something to eat before going to my mother’s, but… Murphy’s Law. The moment I start something, the phone is sure to ring! 😂
Today, I made my first pickled cucumbers, using a mix of our own cucumbers, and those given to us by my sister.
She gave us so many, they over filled my mother’s massive bowl that was left here. When I was a kid, I remember she used this bowl for making pickles, too!
My canning cookbook is still missing, so I found a recipe online – it was surprisingly hard to find a simple, basic recipe that didn’t require ingredients that we didn’t have, either because we don’t like them, or because they aren’t available locally. Or they required ridiculously long preparation – one recipe I found took nine days of preparation before the final canning and, after reading the instructions, I can’t for the life of me figure out how the cucumbers weren’t complete mush long before then! Or, they were for fermented pickles, and I wanted to water bath can these.
I just wanted to make basic pickles.
Who’d have though that would be so difficult? 😄
But I found one, and got to work. I had only 1 case of quart size jars, and I am very glad they were wide mouth jars! They are so much easier to fill than the regular mouth jars.
I filled the dozen quarts, and there was still lots of cucumbers left over!
There we have it! My first canning of cucumbers into pickles. I even got a 100% ping rate – all the lids sealed properly! Once they’re fully cool, I’ll remove the rings, put the jars in the case they came in, and we’ll need to find somewhere to store them. There’s the root cellar, of course, but that’s quite the oubliette right now. Things that go in there, get forgotten! At least it won’t matter as much with canned goods, and if we are able to harvest enough produce from the garden to store in there, that will help us remember we actually have food in there, and not just the Christmas trees and decorations. 😁 I’ll have to get the girls to take things down there, though. With my knees, trying to navigate the stairs while carrying glass jars is just not a good idea. 😉
I’m glad it’s done, though I left quite a bit for the girls to clean up tonight. At times like this, they get the raw end of the deal! They are sweethearts about it, though. 💕
I just spent a bit of time going back over garden photos from last year. For all the drought and heat waves we had, the garden was well ahead of most of this year’s garden. It’s amazing how much the extended cold and excessive moisture has set things back. At this time last year, I was picking at least a few summer squash, and even beans in the morning. As much as they struggled in the heat, the peas were starting to produce pods. The melons were setting fruit and looking really prolific, and even the Mountain Morado corn was starting to develop cobs. The cherry tomato mix and spoon tomatoes had sprays of green tomatoes, with some ripening and ready to eat, soon after.
This morning, I was able to give more onions a hair cut.
These are onions from seed, taken from the high raised bed, which had the most, plus a few from one of the low raised beds. We picked so many from the onion sets last time, most of these went straight to getting dehydrated.
Kitchen shears makes the job to much faster. After a more thorough washing, then trimming off the browned tips, it was quick work to snip them into small pieces. As I write this, they are in the oven under the warm setting, at 145F (the lowest temperature our new oven can go).
Even with the onions, there’s a difference. They they are looking pretty good, last year they were developing bulbs by now.
I got to taste our first strawberry from the transplants! It was so very sweet! Not the one in the photo; that one’s not ready yet. Nor the first one that developed. That one rotted before it ripened for some reason. There are plenty more developing, and lots more flowers, though, so I hope we will have a decent amount from our 4 little plants. Hopefully, they will also develop runners that we can propagate, to have more plants next year. 🙂
Still nothing from the bare root white strawberries we got, though. Looks like a total loss, there.
Some of the Carminat pole beans are getting very enthusiastic about climbing! The pole beans on the other side of the trellis aren’t quite there yet. There are a couple of self seeds (or should I say, bird-poop seeded) sunflowers that I am allowing to grow. There are some in other beds that I’m letting grow, too.
I was sure the beans I planted at the tunnel were also vining types, but I’m starting to think they are actually a bush bean. They are getting bigger, but so far, I see nothing to show that they are climbers!
While the Chocolate Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes are not showing fruit yet, the tomatoes that were started so much earlier indoors are really starting to fill out! Almost all the plants are starting to show fruit now. The photo above is one of the first Sophie’s Choice tomatoes to develop, and it’s getting surprisingly large, from what I can tell for the variety.
There is a distinct shape difference between the Sophie’s Choice and the Cup of Moldova tomatoes. In fact, it looks like the row that I thought was all Sophie’s Choice actually has a few Cup of Moldova in it. There are a LOT more of the CoM than the SC tomatoes.
The big surprise are the giant pumpkins. Do you see that flower above? And all the buds around it, both male and female?
That’s on the pumpkin I found with a broken stem. The one I didn’t think would survive. Turns out that pushing the broken surfaces together and burying them was enough to save it.
The rest of the squash nearby are not really doing well. Most are still very small, and even the ones that are growing more are nowhere near as big as they should be for this time of the growing season. I am starting to think we might not get any of the winter squash in this patch (the Red Kuri at the chain link fence is doing really well, at least), and we’ll be lucky to get any summer squash, too. The melons are all so small, I just don’t see them making it. Squash and melon all need lots of water, but it looks like they still got too much, this wet-wet spring, and just aren’t recovering. Unless we have a ridiculously long and mild fall. Some of the hulless pumpkins seem to be doing better, but I still don’t think they’re recovered enough to get a crop this year.
We planted SO much this year, and it seems much of it is going to be wasted effort. Hard to believe that it’s pretty much all having a much harder time this year, with so much moisture and more average temperatures, than last year with the heat waves and drought. I would have expected it to be the other way around. Looking at what is working and what isn’t, it definitely confirms that we need to go with the high raised beds. Even the low raised beds, while better than what’s at grade, are not all doing as well as one would expect. The tomato bed is the only thing I would say is doing really well. Most of the onions are doing all right, though even the shallots from sets planted near the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes are struggling at one end of the bed. Though the bet was raised about 4 inches when we framed it with bricks, the end near the vehicle gate had a lot of water around it. So much, it even looks like the shallots at the end were largely drowned out. At least there are more, further down the bed, that escaped nature’s wrath!
I’m struggling with disappointment right now. We planted more then we “needed”, with the expectation that we’d lose some, so that we could at least still be able to preserve food for the winter. Now it’s looking like we’ll barely have fresh produce for the summer.
Last night, I found a large enough, liquid tight jar that would be great for making chive blossom oil.
It’s big enough that all the cleaned and dried blossoms could fit into it. The jar was saved from some Christmas nuts that were available at a local grocery store. Buying the nuts and keeping the jar was cheaper than getting the same type of jar (without the decorative glass) on its own!
After putting the blossoms in, the jar was filled with olive oil, then gently muddled with the handle of a wooden spoon to get out any air bubbles. A label on the top has the date and a reminder to turn the jar a bit, at least once a day. It should be stored in a cool dark place, but with the temperatures we’ve been having, we’d got it in a dark cupboard that is just a little bit cooler than the rest of the house. Thankfully, we aren’t expecting any unusually high temperatures for the next while.
This should be ready to use in about 5-7 days – or longer, if we want the flavour to be stronger.
My morning rounds are taking longer, as I am able to do more in the various garden beds as I go along.
I harvested the largest of the chive blossoms, before they go to seed. While I continued with my morning rounds, one of my daughters washed and de-bugged them, then laid them out on a cooling rack in a baking tray to dry. They are in the oven, with no heat at all, to protect them from the cats. Once the wash water is dried off, we’ll stick as much of them in a jar as we can, with olive oil. Any extras will go in the freezer. Or maybe I should split them into two jars and use them all. There are more chive blossoms to harvest later on, so we’ll have plenty to infuse in vinegar, too.
Speaking of drying things, during the night that cats did manage to get at the stacked screens of drying mint leaves. We’ve lost about 2 screen’s worth of mint leaves to the floor. 😦
When I moved on from the old kitchen garden to check on the squash patch, I noticed one of the giant pumpkins was no longer upright. I thought it might be because it had grown large enough to start leaning over, but I was wrong.
The stem is broken, right at ground level. Possibly from the high winds we’ve been having. Or…
Possibly weakened by the ant hill that has formed on that side of the pumpkin mound!
I built soil up around to support the stem again, in the off chance that it will survive, but with a break that large, I don’t expect it to. We are likely down to just one giant pumpkin plant.
Everything else in the squash patch seems to be surviving so far, and I’m seeing new growth in most. The squash that were started at 4 weeks are so very small, though. I kinda feel like maybe we should have started them at 6 weeks.
I had a very pleasant surprise in the tomato patch nearby, though!
Of course, the camera on my phone didn’t focus where I wanted it to. 😀
We have our first tomatoes forming!
These are on the Sophie’s Choice tomato plants. We got these seeds as a freebie with my order from Heritage Harvest, which was a very pleasant surprise. They have a much shorter growing season, and were started indoors at around 10 weeks or something (it’s a good thing I am using the blog as a gardening journal to record the details, because I’m already forgetting!). So I am not surprised that these are the first to start forming fruit.
We did get some rain last night, but it was light enough that much of the water in the garden was able to get absorbed by the soil, and the paths are just really wet, instead of big puddles of water. That meant I could finally do some much needed weeding in the summer squash bed, then pruning of tomatoes.
I took some of the strongest, healthiest looking branches that I pruned off the Sophie’s Choice tomatoes and transplanted them in the open spaces between the summer squash. I don’t know if I’m breaching any companion planting rules here (do tomatoes and squash go well together?), but whatever. If they take, great. If not, that’s okay, too. I specifically wanted to propagate more Sophie’s Choice tomatoes, as they are listed as extremely rare, so if I can save seed and help keep the variety going, that would be a good thing. Because they start producing so much faster than the other varieties we have, I’m not as concerned about cross pollination.
While I was weeding and tending different parts of the garden, I had Rolando Moon hanging out and keeping me company. Not wanting attention. Just being nearby.
I had to chase her out of one of the sweet potato bags, as she decided to start rolling in it! Then she jumped up into the high raised bed and lay down on some onions. THEN, she moved into the squash and corn patch, and sat on some corn seedlings!
That cat seems determined to be destructive!
The tomatoes are not the only things blooming. Two of the Styrian hulless pumpkins have suddenly burst into bloom, and they are all covered with buds again. Their first buds had been pruned away when they were transplanted. They look to still be all male flowers. I’m debating whether these flowers should be pruned away, too, so more energy can go to the plants establishing themselves more. It hasn’t been that long since they were transplanted, after all.
Anyone out there know if it would be helpful to prune the flowers off now or not?
The beans and peas at the trellises and bean tunnel are looking quite good. The cucumbers seem more touch and go. The first peas that were planted are getting quite large, and the snap peas are already large enough that some have latched onto the vertical trellis strings already. The snap peas are growing noticeably faster than the pod peas.
There is a single, out of place pea plant that showed up, right near the upright post at the start of the row. It seems to be a pea from last year that finally germinated! It germinated quite a bit earlier than the others, and I’m trying to train it up the support post, since it’s too far from the vertical lines to climb. Last year, we planted the King Tut purple peas here, so that’s what this one would be. It’s even almost as large as the purple peas we started indoors from saved seed, and transplanted against the chain link fence to climb. They are all tall enough that they’ve attached themselves to the fence and are making their way upwards, even though they are still looking kinda spindly.
The Wonderberries have been ripening, though the plants haven’t really gotten any bigger, and have what looks like weather damage. I’ve been able to taste them. They are lightly sweet, but don’t have any predominant flavour. This may be something we just leave for the birds. I’ll have to get the girls to try them, too, and see if they like them. I don’t mind them self seeding in this location, as I’d rather have the berry bushes that produce food, either for us or for the birds, than the invasive flowers.
In other things, my plans for the day have had to change. My sister never made it out to my mother’s yesterday, because my mother told her it was “too soon” to start packing and bagging things in preparation for her apartment being sprayed for bed bugs. She has a shift today, so that’s out. My brother, meanwhile, is out of town for a funeral that had been delayed until now by the lockdowns. So it looks like I’ll likely have to go to my mother’s to help out. I’ll phone her, first, once I’m sure she is back from church. My sister will be able to come out tomorrow morning, and I hope to come out in the early afternoon for the last of the packing and bagging, and moving of larger items. Then she’s back the next morning to bring our mother to her place for the night. I’ll head over in the early evening to check on the place and make sure it’s locked up while my mother is gone.
On Tuesday, I should be heading into the city for the first half of our monthly shopping, too. I will time it so I can check her place on my way home.
Which means I’ll be getting very little accomplished at home over the next few days!
Yesterday, I weeded mint out of the beet bed – one entire end was completely stunted because they were shaded out – then kept on going, harvesting mint from the path as well. The sump pump drains into here, and the growth is absolutely lush! By the time I was done, I had a huge arm full! This is all mint that was here before we moved in, so we have no idea what variety it is. I know it’s not spearmint. I don’t think it’s peppermint, either, but I really can’t say for sure.
Once inside, I took the best leaves off the stems and gave them a wash. Then I cleaned up and dragged in the old window screens we used last year for curing onions, drying spinach, etc. I covered the mesh with paper towels, then set out as many leaves as I could fit onto them to dry.
I didn’t even use half of what I’d gathered!
Yes, this is the drying mint!
I used small glasses and jars as spacers so we could stack the screens on top of each other, but the cats were incredibly interested in what was going on. So we put more little jars as spacers on the top and covered the whole thing with a cloth. We still caught them on top of the stack, but at least the cloth kept the leaves clean.
Then, some time later, my daughter got Cheddar out from under the cloth at one end. *sigh* We tucked the ends under the bottom screen as best we could.
When I lifted the cloth on one side this morning, however, I found the cats had still managed to get under it!
I salvaged what I could and set it up again on the old dishwasher that’s still waiting to be taken out to the junk pile. Since the leaves have shrunk, I was able to fit them closer together on the screens that needed to be redone. For now, we’re keeping the sheet off, so they can get more air circulation.
Drying things on screens like this can work quite well, but protecting it from the cats is a problem!
Meanwhile, I used fresh mint to make a big pot of strong mint tea this morning, and there is still lots left in the fridge. There is much more to harvest in the garden, as we want, too.
The chives are blooming right now and ready to harvest if we want to make infused chive blossom oil or vinegar again. We have the olive oil to do that now, but I won’t be picking up more of the white wine vinegar I like to use until we do our next city trip. I might just harvest the chives, anyway, and freeze the extra until we are ready to make the infusion.
I love that we can already start harvesting things and preserving them!
Just a bit of catching up on how things went yesterday.
The short version: Long.
It went long. Very long!
For me, it was working on pickling beets using the water bath canner. Until now, we have only done refrigerator canning, and my only experience with water bath canning was helping my mother, as a child. This is the first time I’ve done it myself, from start to finish.
It took WAY longer than I expected!
I have a Ball cookbook of canning recipes. The pickled beets recipe was for a half dozen 500ml jars. They had the basic pickle recipe, but also variations. After looking over our quantities of beets, I figured I could do two batches, with one batch being a “sweet pickle” using cloves and cinnamon sticks instead of the pickling spice mix of the basic recipe.
One batch called for 10 cups of beets. I decided to use up as much of the little beets as I could. Since they would be blanched and trimmed, and their small size would pack tighter than cubed larger beets, I made sure to grab more than 10 cups. I figured, if there was extra, we could just include them with supper or something.
While the first batch was blanching, which filled the blanching pot I found stored in a barely accessible space in the kitchen, I prepped a second batch to blanch. At the same time, I cooked the liquid with the pickling spice bag, and had everything ready to do the sweet spice version.
I was all ready to can the first batch, when I realized I had a problem.
These are the first batch of fully prepared beets.
I doubt I could have filled three jars with that, never mind six!
So I added the second batch.
I still wasn’t sure there would be enough to fill the six jars I had prepped in the canner!
The next step was to put them into the pickling liquid and bring it to a boil, then start filling the jars. After my first jar, I realized I would likely have another problem. Not enough liquid! So I started the spiced version going and continued. I ended up being able to do only four jars with the basic pickling liquid, and the last two got the sweet spice version.
I started working on this before my daughters headed out to work in the garden. They came back four hours later, and I was JUST reaching the point where I actually start putting beets into jar. Most of that time was spent scrubbing beets, blanching beets, removing the outer skins, trimming the tops and tails, and waiting for water to boil.
I know “a watched pot never boils”, but my goodness, it takes a long time for large amounts of water to come to a boil!
But, if finally got done! Our first time canning AND our first time canning our own produce!
Pulling my first jar out of the water, though, was a bit of a surprise.
I mean, I know our water is hard, but wow! For the jars to come out with a layer of scale like this is crazy! You can see on the jar on the far right, where I wiped some of it with a paper towel. They’re going to need to be washed!
I finally had a chance to remove the rings and check the seals, just a little while ago, and they all came out fine! I made sure to keep track of which ones had the different pickling liquid, for when the scale gets washed off and they can be labelled.
Except the jars we open to taste test! 😀
By the time I was done, it was full dark, so it wasn’t until this morning that I could get a photo of the girls’ hard work outside.
They got three of the four remaining beds in the main garden area done – and most of that time was spent on just one of them! The first two weren’t too bad, but the third one was filled with crab grass, and it took them ages to get as many of the rhizomes out as they could!
I am amused by all the cat footprints in the loose soil! 😀
I’m glad they were able to get these done. Today turned out to be a write-off for outside work, but I will cover that in my next post. 🙂