The Numbers (updated)

131 148 half pint jars

35 41 pint jars

30 pint and a half jars

40 quart jars

256 279 total jars

It was a lot of work to fill 256 279 jars, but I spread it out over the whole summer.  I started in April when the rhubarb is fresh and juicy, making “Old Recipe” Rhubarb Jam and Rhubarb Chutney.

Old Recipe Rhubarb Jam

Old Recipe Rhubarb Jam          photo by vsimon

Today I put the last of my fermented dill pickles into jars from the crock.

In between I have put up 91 jars of jams and jellies, 107 130 jars of pickles, 9 jars of relish, 40 jars of salsa/sauce, and even 9 jars of ketchup.  

We have packed away everything our garden could produce, from fresh rhubarb, red beets, green beans, red currents, lots of ground cherries, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and cucumbers.  

Three types of cucumbers that were new to me this year.   The best being the “Pearl” cucumbers.   Just so, so where the “Lemon” cucumbers (taste like regular cucumbers), and not to be planted again where the extremely small “Mexican Gherkins”.  More on the cucumbers later.

gherkins

Mexican Gherkins                         photo by vsimon

And there where new things to try this year.  For the first time I made salsa.  Not the crisp, freshly chopped refrigerated type, but the cooked and then canned type.   Also new this year was a shot at making ketchup.  Ketchup without all the sugar or high fructose corn syrup found in store bought ketchup.

After much searching I was able to locate (from my sister Betty) the recipe my mother used to make the most wonderful, sweet pickle relish.  I have a niece who used to request this yearly as a Christmas gift from my mother.  

The biggest “new” thing I tried this year was to pickle green beans.  We now have a total of 18 pints of pickled green beans.   Three or four varieties of green beans where used along with a variety of different spices trying to find the best combination. 

Here is a partial list of the spices used: dill,  fennel,  caraway,  garlic,  black pepper corns,  coriander,  turmeric,  and red pepper flakes.  

Until we sample all the varieties, I will not know which of these spice combinations worked best.  Some will be repeated next year and some most likely will not.

.Preserve Shelves

Our winter stockpile                            photo by vsimon

So here are the shelving units in our basement stocked with all the great foods to be enjoyed through coming months.  (Notice the water bath canner and the dehydrator on the lower right hand shelf.)

So, if after reading this you start to question Linda’s writing style, please note that this post is penned by me, Vincent. 

And it hasn’t quite ended yet as I still have a grocery bag full of sweet and hot peppers to put up.   Any suggestions?   Have a great pickled peppers recipe?  Or maybe an “all peppers” salsa?   Let me know.

Update 10-8-2010 Today I pickled my peppers. Three different recipes, 23 jars. Short Brine Peppers, Pickled Sweet Peppers, and Marinated Sweet Peppers. All from “The Joy Of Pickling“. We now have many gifts for the holidays. Hope everyone loves pickles, jams, and salsas.

A Dozen Gifts for Cooks

Having the right tool in the kitchen can make the difference between joy and frustration. We have been in many home kitchens, and have used many tools, over many years. Some quality tools are inexpensive, some are investments.

Do you need some recommendations? Here are some that add pleasure to my day.

Some are available locally, some are harder to find. Buy local when you can. I have included links to our Kitchen Hardware Store if you can’t.

For the cook

Microplane zester for fine citrus zest, zingy fresh ginger root, fragrant nutmeg, airy mounds of parmesan… I am found of saying “add zest to your life”.

Silicone spatulas so your scraper will not melt into your sauce. You will only need to purchase these once. One piece models are the best, so the scraper doesn’t separate from the handle. And get several sizes, for big bowls and skinny jars.

Scoops in many sizes, makes portioning muffins, cookies, and meatballs easy. And less messy.

Citrus reamer for fresh juice, to enliven dull dishes. Wood is the best. I have owned fancy schamcy ones, but none better.

A good, sturdy peeler. Get it in red so you find it in the jumble of the tool drawer.

Pretty ramekins for individual servings. These make you feel special.

Custard cups for super quick gluten free Wonder Buns.

Pressure cookers for slow cooked tenderness, fast.

For the cook and the gardener

Excalibur food dehydrator for dried tomatoes and cinnamon apple slices. Next year we will also dry sage and blackberry leaves for herbal teas.

Water bath canning set for pickles (beet, beans, cauliflower, cucumber, peppers) and jams (plum, ground cherry, raspberry, tomato, tomatillo).

The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich. This is an updated version of the book we used repeatedly this summer to “put food by”. Vincent made eight different kinds of pickles that are going to be holiday gifts this winter.

For the cook and the reader

Hungry Planet What the World Eats by Peter Menzel. For those who want some anthropology with their food. IMHO, everyone should read this book. It includes beautiful pictures of families in 24 countries, and what they eat in a week. And notes the average health care cost per person for each country.

What do you want for Christmas?