Today was a major day of canning. I put up 7 quarts of tomato juice using the Beefsteak tomatoes and some green bell peppers. I started out by preparing the area and the tomatoes.
I took enough of the beefsteak tomatoes off the table to fill both sides of the sink. It was just the right amount, now I know how many to use. The picture on the right shows what I have to do to get some of the stubborn tops off. Getting old isn’t so much fun when it means that not everything works the way it used to. My fingers just don’t grip the way I would like, but fortunately there are helps like a good pair of pliers for that.
Next it was cutting up and cleaning the peppers. These were not the highest quality peppers, but I wanted them used. I also was able to test out the puree setting on the new food processor. Here is my results in pictures. I ran it through the cone to get out all of the little chunks and threw it into the bottom of the pot seen on the right. With a few batches of tomatoes worked through the cone, this is what it looked like. Actually, you can barely taste the pepper in the juice.
I was a bit lazy with this particular batch and used the old method that I learned from my mother. She just put one teaspoon of sugar and 1 of canning salt into each of the quarts and filled it with the juice then sealed and processed it. I let it process for 30 minutes just to be sure. All jars sealed up, and they are in the basement on the rack waiting to be consumed. Thinking back, I probably should have added lemon juice to ensure the acidity was correct. Next batch.
Now as I think of it there were more tomatoes left from those two sinks full. Yikes, that is too many for 7 quarts. I put the rest straight into the jars and processed them as whole tomatoes. I ended up with three jars of those, again I put the 1 teaspoon of sugar and canning salt into the jars, but not the lemon juice. Someday I will remember to do that. We were not taught that from our elders probably because when they canned in the “early days” AKA frontier times, there were no lemons to be found in this area, no one could afford anything shipped in. If they received an orange for Christmas it was a really big deal. Food was what you could raise on your own. Fruits were basically the wild berries that were native to the area. So I know that sentence was redundant, but I am sticking with it.
Back to the canning. Since I had 3 jars of whole tomatoes that needed processing, I decided no way was I wasting the four spots in the canner kettle, so I grabbed the large box of romas that you see in the first picture, and washed them up. They fit into two large silver bowls and I began blanching them. About half way through the first bowl, I realized that I only needed four quarts and there was likely four quarts in that one bowl. I was correct, yea I win the prize. By this time I was so tired and popping the skins off those little romas was so time consuming that I did it from a sitting position. I mixed up the spaghetti sauce by pulling quite a bit of the clear liquid off the side with a baster. It works very well for that. Next I added 1/4 cup of canning salt and 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of canola oil and about 1/4 cup of Italian seasoning. I didn’t quite have enough of that, so I augmented it with some dried basil from last summer. All in all it wasn’t a bad flavor. I can always doctor it up a bit when I open the jar and use it. I processed those 7 quarts (3 whole/4 spaghetti) for 30 minutes and they have filled the remaining spaghetti area on the shelf in the canning room.
I was trying to get a picture of this dill in the marigold, and if you look at the upper right, you can see that the zucchini leaves have been hit by the frost. On the right you might be able to see the curled up leaf in the very center of the picture. Too bad the frost doesn’t seem to do anything for the weeds.
When James came home we went outside to check on the garden and pick the tomatoes. Not only did we pick the fruit, but we pulled some of the plants. We took out 25 of them. So that we left were still viable, but most will likely get taken out tomorrow. I was just too stiff and sore to do anymore and it was getting dark.
It was quite cold here this morning. James said it was 37 on the bank when he was running at 7 a.m. Well, little did we know that it continued to get colder. At 8:30 it was only 31 F on the thermometer at our house. I was afraid the garden was hit. When I checked at noon, I only noticed that the leaves on the gourds looked curled. Tonight we realized the zucchini had a pretty good hit and so did the cucumbers that were on the ground. Those on the fence were fine. I don’t understand that, warmer up above maybe. The weather people usually talk about the low lying areas getting it worst, now I know. Happy gardening and canning to all of you.