Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to can. They can simply be washed, sliced in half, put into jars, and sealed. They only need a water bath. Once cooled, cleaned and labeled they are ready for the shelf. These jars are nearly ready for the water bath. Part of them already have the lids and rings on them. The rest have been slightly salted and the rims wiped clean.

Well, this is what happened to some of the jars. I have to admit, I overstuffed the first round of hot water bath. I put 8 jars into the bath, not remembering it only fit 7. So when I saw the lids had puckered up, I thought I must have overcrowded the bath. I read online that the puckering can be due to overstuffing the jars, which I never do, and didn't think I had done. Anyhow, on to subsequent water baths of tomatoes...It happened again to two of the lids. I resealed the first batch of bad seals with new lids. The second and third batch, were also resealed. In the end, the fourth batch of 2 puckered jars went into the fridge for more immediate use. I think it may have just been a bad batch of lids...?

Finally, part of the tomato canning success is on the shelves for winter storage. There are more jars on the counter waiting to cool and be rinsed and labeled for the shelf, and a few other jars in the fridge. The tomatoes are so wonderful to add to soup, stew, casserole, or even left overs. If the skins on tomatoes bother you, as soon as they are warmed up in a soup or stew, simply lift the curled skin out of the pot. As soon as the jars are open in the middle of winter, summertime smells return! After 100's of jars of canning tomatoes, this is the year I learned of the pucker lid. Anybody else experience this?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Last Weekend of Summer

What a busy time as the change of season begins to take place. The chimney was cleaned and swept, the wood is all stacked in the shed, but the garden has taken its time ripening. We are keeping our fingers crossed (when they aren't busy picking, washing,peeling, chopping, slicing, stirring, canning, shelling, mixing, and freezing) that the warm days of summer will last a few more weeks. Here are a some pictures from the weekend.

The hot tub isn't hot right now, so we call it the pool tub. It was the perfect weekend to relax in between the harvest and preserving!

The first twenty pounds of apples were picked. There are at least 500 pounds to go! Everyone will be getting applesauce for Christmas!!

The late blooming and late ripening fall raspberries are such a treat right now and so very sweet. Some were frozen and others were made into treats and frozen.

The amazing walnut cracker! It does the job quickly and easily. One of us cracks and the other one cleans the walnuts, as in takes the shell off!

These nuts will go into the freezer. We are nearing the end of the walnuts in the mesh bags and that is just in time for them to start dropping again. We actually used the nuts several times for our river lunches this summer.

Collecting basil and eggs. They can go together in cooking, but they just happened to be part of the same trip to the barn and the garden.

The eggs were needed for the raspberry peach muffins. The recipe called for the sugar to be added last. It gives the muffins a different texture.

Here they are packaged up and ready for the freezer. They can be taken out one at a time or served all together later in the year.

Tomatoes, eggplant, and squash were picked in the garden today. If the tomatoes had a hint of red, we picked them. They will ripen slowly in the kitchen.

Part of the vegies went into Eggplant Parmesan for dinner.

Many of the vegies went into a pot of Garden Sauce that is cooked down to a wonderful thickness and then frozen for fresh from the garden spaghetti sauce.

The rest of the tomatoes were canned for use over the winter in soups and casseroles. Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to can.

Pears were picked and ready to core and slice for the dehydrator. They make such a surprisingly tasty snack. They dry in about 12 hours.

Just four racks of pears filled three pints. We slice them as they ripen so there is less waste.

Finally, the treat at the end of the week end: raspberry peach cobbler. There are 49er peaches, white peaches and raspberries.

Here is the last weekend of summer raspberry peach cobbler. The peaches and the berries are perfectly ripe and taste so good together and the cobbler is so simple to make. What a lucky week end to be able to work on the farm.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Corn Canning

There were 88 ears of corn in this round of canning. First they all had to be shucked. The truck works as the perfect shucking stand with the tailgate open, I can sit at the back of the truck, shuck and throw the silks and shuckings out to the sheep and chickens.

Once the corn is rinsed and clean, it is ready to be cut off the cob. I have the best help around! Tim is always willing to pitch in a hand to keep the process going from picking the harvest to cutting and chopping to watching the kettle of boiling water! The corn is cut off the cob and the left over cobs are also given to the hens and sheep.

Next the loose corn is packed into sterile jars. It must be packed loosely as the corn expands while canning and if it too tight, produces a bad odor when opening the jar. That would spoil any appetite for corn, so be sure to pack lightly!

After the jars are filled with corn, add 1/2 t. salt per pint. Then pour boiling water over the corn and into the jars. Wipe the jar rims clean and set lids and rings on and tighten. Don't over tighten. This is call cold pack or raw pack because the corn was not blanched first.

Here are the jars after the 55 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure in the pressure canner. Corn must be canned in a pressure canner. Pressure canners must be watched carefully. This means no texting, no telephone, no computer, no gardening, it just means rest peacefully and watch the gauge! It slips over 10 pounds of pressure in an instant and can head into the red zone very quickly, so just pay attention. It is more fun to do it with a partner!

Here the sheep enjoy the shucking fun. The front pasture has a fair amount of volunteer plants like squash and pumpkin because there are the vegetables that were thrown out to pasture last year.

There was a little extra corn left over, so I decided to make a corn chowder of sorts. Realizing that it must have potatoes in it to be called a chowder, I added rice instead. It was left over rice and it made a quick, easy meal.

Garlic and onion were chopped and softened in butter in the soup pot. Then a red pepper was chopped and added along with a perfect sized zucchini from the garden, after that, the sweetest corn that had been cut off the cob went into the pot. Next went in the bacon that was left over from the morning meal and the left over jasmine rice and some chopped cilantro.

Finally, milk was poured into the pot with a bit of water to make a thick, creamy soup. It didn't take more than 20 minutes to make and you could really use any leftovers from the garden or the fridge you like!

We ate our mostly homegrown meal while watching the pressure canner preserve quart sized jars of corn. This takes 85 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, so it was nice to enjoy a leisurely bowl of soup with the best soulmate ever!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ryan!

You are such a fun, sweet, smart, kind, funny, loving, thoughtful, strong, happy, super star boy! Have fun being 8 and remember to tell your Mama that "eight is great and really cool!"!
We love you, Nana and Papa xoxo

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Corn Patch

We got a call from the "Berry Lady's Husband", Bob. He said, "The corn is ready, come and pick it today. Toodle-ooo!". In this area, come now means come as soon as possible. So after a day working on the river, I went over to Bob's beautiful garden and started to pick.

There are seven rows of super sweet corn and I started with the first three rows. Bob said to pick both ears on the stalk. He had tested it out for breakfast and they are all good. Plus he doesn't want a sudden cold snap to freeze and ruin the corn.

This ear of corn had pants and I set it aside to show Bob. He loves the way corn, squash, carrots, actually any vegetable form.

While I was picking, Bob was working his way out to the corn patch. He is an amazing person. Bob lives alone now as Margie passed away. Two winters ago, Bob slipped in an ice storm and broke his hip. It took quite a long recovery period, but he is up and around the way he likes to be on his farm.

The garden keeps Bob moving around and he loves to be outside. He has worked his whole life in the outdoors. He picked hops as a kid in the Rogue Valley. He has fished, cut wood, and worked as a logger for many years in the woods. Bob finished his working career with the Forest Service running crews and fighting wild fires. Every year, he and Margie planted a garden, preserved their harvest, hunted in the woods, fished the river, and lived off the land.

Now Bob shares his harvest with us. We have known Bob for thirteen years. We started out trading walnuts for raspberries and over time we traded crops raised for preserving the harvest. With this bushel of corn, Bob planted and watered it to make it the sweetest around, and I will shuck it and can it and we share the harvest.

Bob is a living legend. He has so many stories of surviving the depression, gold panning and dredging, working as a lumberjack, fighting fires in the wild woods, and living the good life in the Rogue Valley. He is such a precious part of our family. Thanks for the golden corn, Bob!