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Admitting Defeat

September 14th, 2013

This is one of only a few peppers that I have on my plants in the garden.  I knew my pepper harvest would be low due to the location of the pepper plants.  Then the ducks decided that pepper plants were super tasty and my hopes of harvesting even a half bushel of peppers from my garden were dashed.  I have been harvesting a few green peppers and other hot peppers for the past month, but I do not have enough to make roasted red peppers for the pantry.  I don’t do a lot of canning of garden produce, but I do love to have a few jars of roasted red peppers in the cupboard.  They’re so much cheaper than buying them at the store, and you can customize them with white wine vinegar, homegrown garlic, and a really good olive oil.  I even use the brine to make salad dressing. (“>here’s my post about making them, including the recipe)
peppers 1
Yesterday, I purchased a load of peppers at the Belfast Farmers Market to preserve.  Next week I hope to buy more, along with some jalapeños (which I preserve in the same manner and dehydrate as well).
peppers 2
I also purchased a box of tomatoes since mine are taking they’re time ripening up. Roasted tomato passatta is something I don’t want my pantry to be without as well. I must admit, I’m thankful to live in an area where there are loads of farmers growing all kinds of wonderful organic produce. It comes in handy when my crop doesn’t do well.

Have you had any crops that have done less than stellar this season?

Stocking up for Winter

October 1st, 2011

I don’t spend much time canning in summer, I much prefer to eat vegetables fresh and in season. In winter my tastes lean more towards root vegetables roasted with venison or chicken. Hearty stews and crusty artisan breads are also on the menu quite often when the snow is on the ground. Learning to love root vegetables is quite nice because they don’t need much in the way of preservation, squash gets piled in a corner of the dining room, potatoes are tucked away in the garage, garlic and onions are in boxes in the basement, and cabbages are pounded with salt and stuffed into jars and stowed in the basement as well.

Every other year, I do spend some time putting up jam, jelly, relish, and chutney, but we have enough left from last year that I haven’t made any of that this year. The one thing I did spend some time putting in jars, tomatoes.

Over the past few weeks I have managed to put up a few dozen quart jars of tomato soup (recipe here if you’re interested) and some roasted tomato passata as well (recipe to come later). Hopefully I have just enough tomatoes left for a batch of ketchup and then my canner will retire to the basement shelf.

What summer bounty do spend the most time preserving?

Friday Favorite: Home Canned Tomatoes

January 28th, 2011


One thing I do enjoy about winter is that I have more time to cook. I really love to cook and enjoy spending the winter days making big pots of stews, tender roasts, trays of lasagna and baking fresh sourdough bread. One of my favorite things about gardening is the fresh fruits and vegetables that it provides for the kitchen. Since I live in NE Ohio, the winter months prove to be a little more difficult when it comes to gardening and fresh vegetables harvests. Since I’m still in the learning stages of winter gardening, I supplement with things I canned and froze during the bountiful months of spring/summer/fall.

If I could only preserve one thing from the summer it would definitely be tomatoes. My pantry is filled with home canned tomato soup, jars upon jars of crushed tomatoes, roasted tomatoes fill the freezer, and dried tomatoes stock the kitchen pantry. Cracking open a jar of canned tomatoes brings back all the joy of summer gardening.

Of course they’ll never take the place of an heirloom tomato picked while it’s still warm from the sun, but they make the nine fresh tomato free months here in Ohio more bearable.

If you could only preserve/can/freeze one summer vegetable what would it be?

Making Yellow Tomato Preserves

October 11th, 2010

This year I started 2 small yellow cherry tomato plants just to make a recipe from Preserving the Taste. I checked it out of the library a few years ago and bought a copy when I found an old version because I loved the recipes so much.

It’s a small cookbook packed with delicious recipes like: caramelized apple marmalade with thyme, rose geranium jelly, pear ginger jam, cranberry ketchup, and more. I made the apple marmalade last year and it quickly became a favorite of all who tried it. My favorite thing about this cookbook, is that she uses herbs and spices in almost every recipe.

This little cookbook really takes canning recipes to the next level and makes them healthier as herbs and spices are packed with vitamins and minerals. I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate herbs into my food and this is a great way.

Yellow Tomato Preserves
(makes 4 half-pint jars)
from Preserving the Taste

4 cups sugar
5 cups very small yellow pear shaped tomatoes
3 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a 4-6 quart heavy nonreactive pan, stir together the sugar and 3/4 cup of water. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Wash down any sugar crystals that accumulate on the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water.

Insert candy thermometer and continue boiling until until the syrup has reached 234 degrees F, the soft-ball stage.

Immediately stir in tomatoes. The mixture might seize up, but after a few minutes will again become liquid. Stir in the chilies, basil and lemon juice and turn heat to very low. Continue simmering for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture will have thickened and darkened in color.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, wipe rims clean with a damp towel, and seal with new lids and metal rings. Process in hot-water bath canner for 10 minutes. Preserves will continue to thicken as they cool.


I’ve been waiting for enough little yellow tomatoes to ripen so I could make this recipe. I didn’t get enough (must plant a few more next year) so I had to settle with a half batch. Since I only ended up with a few handfuls of tomatoes, I only got two small jars of preserves. It was well worth the effort to fire up the canner though, I’ll be happy to have a jar for the winter.

These preserves have a wonderful sweet tomato taste with a hint of spice from the jalapeño and the basil really adds a wonderful touch. The little tomatoes become almost candied in the sugar syrup and the peels seem to melt into the preserves (so don’t be worried about leaving them in). I enjoyed some on toast and now am trying to figure out where I can tuck in a few more yellow cherry tomato plants next year!

Have you discovered any new canning recipes this year? Do you like herbs and spices in your preserves?

Making a Piece of History

September 23rd, 2010

Earlier this spring I collected a bunch of my grandmother’s and my great grandmother’s recipes from my mom’s side of the family. I’m hoping to make them, take photos and make up a family heirloom cookbook. I’ve been waiting for the time to harvest green tomatoes so I could make this recipe, it’s one of my great grandmother’s.

I cleared out a raised bed in the back and pulled out all the tomatoes to make room for fall spinach. I ended up with 7 pounds of green tomatoes, the perfect amount for this recipe. Last year I made green tomato chutney with all the green tomatoes and we’ve been enjoying that on sandwiches and on burgers.

I had to make a special trip out to find pickling lime. I thought about making my own with some wood ash, but decided for my first try at pickling with lime I’d rather buy actually pickling time. Perhaps in the future I’ll try making my own.

I finished up the recipe yesterday morning. So far I’m not loving the flavor, we’ll see how they age. I think I may add some mustard seeds before canning them as I thought they could use a little more flavor. If we don’t end up liking them I’ll probably turn them into chutney.

Do you have any heirloom canning recipes you use?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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