Sunday, 28 October 2012

Easy Peasy

I know, I know, it's been a loooong time since I posted, but life has been frantically hectic, stressful, and all around crazy.

We bought a house. Love having our own place, paying and maintaining it is very stressful. You can see one of the many repairs we need to do (eventually, all dependent on time and money).

 But now I can build my own garden (only half as big this year as I would like) AND I have my very own cold cellar which is pretty sweet.

Some of what I planted didn't grow at all, some grew great, some were totally mowed down by the rabbits. We had a very, very dry summer but hot. Our tomatoes did well, as did the carrots and onions; beets, peas, corn and lettuces not so much. The rabbits seemed to really like to eat my corn just when it got to the stage where I was super excited about it being about 10 inches high, then chewed in half the next morning. Mind you, we did get a late start on the garden, having not moved to the house until late spring plus the added aggravation of having to work for a living to pay for things, and there being nothing but grass before. Our soil is very clay-sandy, with lots of rocks in it.

(I had to plant sunflowers, they are one of my favourites and always seem so cheerful. Besides, the birds like them too).

Which brings me to preserving what we planted. I like to do my own canning, it makes me feel accomplished and proud looking at jars of food that I made and for some, had a hand in helping grow. However, those that do canning know that it seems that everything in one category (like tomatoes or peaches)  all seem to become ripe at once and need to be processed quickly. Seeing as I have to work for a living as does my husband, this cuts down significantly on the time available to do such things. Plus it was an uber hot summer, so spending my spare time roasting at home over boiling hot liquid for hours didn't hold much appeal. I was talking to one of my clients about this, who told me that what she does is wash the fruit or vegetable, cores it (for tomatoes) or cuts it in half and takes out the pit (for peaches and such) and freezes them whole in bags. When she wants to can later in the year when it's cooler, or to cook with them later, she simply takes them out, runs them briefly under hot water and the skins come right off! I decided to give this a try.

It's deep fall now and my stuff is in the freezer. I've done one batch of salsa and working on a batch of peach conserve for my mother in law. Holy smokes, it totally works! The peels just come right off in seconds, saving endless amounts of time earlier of peeling them when fresh. All the discarded peel goes in the composter so no waste! I'm looking forward to doing stewed tomatoes and sauces (once I get my new oven; sigh, another un-looked for expense when owning a house, and you realize the appliances that came with it are almost 25 years old and all wanting to stop working at the same time. Yay for new working appliances, boo for having to pay for them. Oh well, what can you do)? Plus standing over hot liquid on a cold fall day is much more appealing than it was in the summer.

Do any of you who may be reading this have any other canning/preserving tips? Next year's purchase is a decent dehydrator. We got a great deal on a smoker (haven't had a chance to use it yet), so hopefully next year my cold cellar will be totally stocked!