Sunday, September 13, 2009

Summer Of (Canning) Love

On August 20th, Shaun, Harvey, Suka and I took a little drive out to the countryside and helped ourselves to the quickly ripening vegetables going to waste in our friend's garden while he and his family were out of town. We didn't have much time to work, and we really didn't plan out our strategy very well, so we found ourselves scrambling through our friend's unlocked garage for bags, buckets, boxes, or anything else we could carry vegetables in. We worked quickly in the hot summer sun, collecting tomatoes from the ground where they had weighed down the plants, plucking pepper by sun-bleached pepper, and baring our naked hands against the prickly, pokey stalks of the okra. We ended up a bit late for work, but oh our joyous bounty was worth every minute of sweat.

At least 4 kinds of peppers: Anaheim, jalapeno, dark green bells, and light green bells.

At least 2 kinds of tomatoes.

Long skinny green beans and short 'normal' green beans.

And a few carrots which, unfortunately, were rotting in the moist ground and we were unable to save them.

Okra. Beautiful, beautiful okra. If you have never seen an okra plant, please proceed immediately to wikipedia. But, ow! They are not much fun to grab onto. Immagine a big, fresh, green piece of fiberglass insulation.

3 Cabbages. 1 large zucchini. 1 small zucchini. 2 cantaloupes. 1 english cucumber. 2 watermelons.

We managed to pick over 60 pounds of vegetables.

We soon realized that we might be facing a big rotten problem. Rotten veggies, that is. We drove straight from the garden to work. We finished work about 11 at night and went home. In the morning, we got up about 8 and went to work at 10:30, returning at 2:30, then leaving again from 4 until 11. We looked at our schedule and realized that we were working every night for the forseeable future and would hardly have one night available to cook up our fabulous finds.

So to the store we went. Canning supplies we sought, and can we did.

Pepper jelly. Hot? We'll find out eventually!

Jalapenos and garlic packed in olive oil. Yum! But I doubt I will ever eat any... talk about fresh HOT jalapenos!

This is Dulce de Tomate. A sweet tomato preserve that is oh so popular in Argentina and was our absolute favorite dish, served with baked brie at La Granada, a french restaurant in Barrio Norte near our house in Buenos Aires. We got a recipe from an Argentine cook and it is so so delicious. We were told by a co-worker to save that recipe, commit it to memory, lock it up in a box, and never forget it so we can make Dulce de Tomate forever and spread joy throughout the world. We started by canning it in these cute little squat jars, but soon switched to the larger jelly jars when we realized that even an open gallon of this stuff would quickly dissapear.

Then we come to this nasty stuff... Tomato Jalapeno jelly. HOT tomato jalapeno jelly. I never tried it for taste because I was too scared of it's mouth-igniting spicy-ness.

It turned out a very beautiful color, but unfortunately (or luckily) it didn't set up. I'm not even going to try to fix it for fear that it will splatter or drip at some point and burn a hole through my skin.

I realize that okra, when cooked, sometimes gets slimey. Ok, ok...It gets really slimey. But we really didn't have a choice, since we have no freezer.

We used my mom's wonderful recipe to make dilly beans.

I wanted to make sourkraut, but didn't really have the time or the proper equipment, so I pickled the cabbage instead. I think it looks really wonderful, but I'm really interested to see how it tastes.

It's hard to see it in this picture, but this is cantaloupe preserves. Yah. Cantaloupe. It is very very pretty and the cantaloupe was great fresh, so we'll see how it turns out when we eventually find a good time to open it.

We roasted and skinned the anaheims and bells.

And viola'! Food for the winter. And 60 lbs of veggies not rotting in the basement. It's funny how things change as you get older. I remember my mom canning when I was a kid and it was always such an annoyance when she asked us to help her or whipped out a jar of canned goods for dinner. But now, I am loving every minute of it and am so excited to eat free food all winter.
Besides all the fresh veggies, Shaun's sister heard us talking about my mom's canned meat and told us that she had meat in her freezer she was going to throw away to make room for fresh meat. So now I am spending my limited morning hours canning stews and crockpot roasts.
Pictures soon to come. Oooh! This is going to be a good winter. I feel kinda like a squirrel...

1 comment:

  1. Oh it looks like it will be a GOOD WINTER for eating a lot of goodies!!, happy to hear you'll be back in Montana, Perhaps I'll get to sample some of those wondrous looking goods... Love momo