Tag Archives: Canning

Berry Season

We don’t have any purchased berry plants on the farm but are overrun with blackberries.  We have a few black raspberries which are my favorite.  All of these have been planted by the birds once again just like our asparagus patches around the garden.  The black raspberry patch that is doing so well this year is on the back side of our big garage and are protected by the wind and harsh winter because they right along side the east wall.  Eddie and I both have been picking a few everyday.

We have to pick them when they’re not fully ripe or the birds will eat them before we can.

We’ve been picking this quart container full about every two days.  It’s a peanut container! Perfect size for holding and not losing any of the berries UNLESS Sadie is around!! She sets and begs for the sweet goodness of the berries too!

I bring them in and sort out any leaf or stem debris and quickly spread them on my baking sheets making sure they’re not stacked on top of each other.

After cleaning I pop them in the freezer and when frozen I transfer them to gallon size Ziploc freezer bags and pop them back into the freezer until I have enough to make jams and jelly.  

I now have two gallon bags full and have about ten bags from last year.  Raspberry jam is very easy to make and no pectin is required because they have their own natural pectin.  I’ll work in the morning and come home to make as much jam as I can!  Hay season will start again on Tuesday if the weathermen know what they’re talking about and everyone will be busy on the farm!!

How Hard Can It Be

Really??? Two days into the year and my one and only resolution is down the drain!  Why?  I can’t blog if the internet connection is non-existent.  I kept going to my computer yesterday to post a note but my computer kept saying “no internet connection”.  Oh well, today is another day and I’ll remedy the situation with two posts and hope you can stand two in one day!  🙂

I had a note from a cousin New Year’s Day wanting my Crockpot Apple Butter recipe and I sent it to her.  I’ll share it with you as well and if you have any questions just comment at the bottom of the post.  I’ve wanted for the last several years to make a copper kettle full of apple butter but we’ve not had enough apples to fill the kettle.  I have had enough apples of different varieties to freeze lots of applesauce which we love but it’s been building up.  Our smallest freezer is half-full of containers of applesauce and I thought maybe if I use up about half of it Mother Nature may give us a good crop of apples in the coming fall.

I store/freeze the applesauce in the large 48 oz. margarine containers or Cool Whip containers.  They’re sturdy and very stackable in a chest freezer.  After I cook up the apples, I always add sugar to the pot and stir well to make sure the sugar dissolves before I freeze it.  When we need apples on the table (just about every day), all I have to do is thaw it.

Now for the recipe:

I have two six quart crockpots with two settings of low and high.  One has a lid that can be vented and the other has securing handles but the lid had a pencil size hole in the top of the lid for venting.  I fill the crockpot almost to the top of the pot with applesauce (fresh or frozen) and turn the heat setting to high and cover with the lid NOT vented.  I want it to get hot and can tell when it’s hot enough because it will have little bubbles forming around the edge of the pot or may even bubble up.

First step–notice the color.

A very important note to making apple butter in a copper kettle or a crockpot, you MUST stir it.  In a copper kettle it has to be stirred constantly but in a crockpot you only have to stir at least every thirty minutes.  Why? In the copper kettle over an open fire it will burn unless stirred constantly.  Not so in a crockpot but it will get thick on top and form almost a crust of very thick sauce and you will have to stir harder and longer to get it to smooth out and incorporate into the rest of the sauce.

Once your applesauce has heated up to the point of bubbles add THREE cups of sugar and stir well.  This is why you don’t fill it all the way to the top, you have to make room for the extra sugar.  When you first add this the sauce will thin some.  Remember, stir well every thirty minutes or so.  DO Not put the lid on tight this time.  The vapor of the water in the apples needs to get out and this helps the applesauce thicken.  Also be careful of bubbling sauce popping out on your skin.  Each time that you stir you will notice the sauce turning colors as you stir.  Try to pull the bottom sauce to the top.  I found out a couple years ago the blending and stirring is easier if you have a good whisk to work it.

Notice the change in color?

At this point, continue to leave the lid cracked, stir every thirty minutes, and continue this step until the sauce gets thickened to your taste.  I don’t like it real thick, it spreads better on buttered biscuits and toast if it’s a little thinner.  Last step, this is where you flavor the sauce and it becomes applebutter.

Oil of Cloves and Oil of Cinnamon

This is the step that can make or ruin your apple butter.  Some people only like cinnamon, we like cinnamon and cloves.  My recipe is 4-6 drops of cinnamon and 3-5 drops of cloves.  Be very careful when you add this to your batch and taste test after one or two drops of cinnamon.  Once you have flavored with the cinnamon, then do the same process with the cloves.  You can add more drops of each depending on your taste but taking baby steps in flavoring will make the process worthwhile.  After you have the flavoring in cook the applebutter about 20-30 minutes longer stirring more frequently.  You will notice the applebutter will be darker.

First canning of 2019–Nine pints of Apple butter.

During the last minutes of processing, prepare your jars.  I use regular mouth pint, half-pint and jelly jars for canning.  The half-pints and jelly jars make great gifts but the gifter may come calling for more because it’s sooooooo good!  I pour the hot applebutter into the jars, put on the lids really tight and set aside with a heavy towel over the top to retain the heat until the jars seal.  You’re done!!  Easy and so good!!

Making Sauerkraut

The last two years we’ve had an abundance of cabbage which I have canned and frozen.  We shared with our daughters and other family and some of our neighbors.  I was starting to run short on sauerkraut so I contacted my neighbor, Linda Smith, about the moon signs to work the cabbage and we got to it.

We brought in four large heads (very large) and Eddie started cutting thin strips from the washed and drained heads.  First he quarters the heads and then uses one of our LEM butcher knives to slice off thin strips into a large pan.  I mention LEM knives because we think they’re awesome (http://www.lemproducts.com/category ) because they keep a sharp edge longer than most we have and they have all sizes you could possibly need.

This shows how thin we slice the cabbage for making slaw.

Next we bring out my big crock and mallet that Eddie made for me years ago.

This is the mallet Eddie made for me to crush the cabbage when we make kraut. I usually put a layer of sliced cabbage about four inches thick in the crock and pound it down with the mallet to about two inches, sprinkle with table salt and pile on another layer. We keep doing this until the crock is about half full.  The mallet is about 36 – 40 inches long which is the perfect length to sit at the kitchen table in a chair and pound the cabbage.

As you mash the cabbage, liquid will start oozing out of the cabbage and this will make the brine needed to sour the cabbage.  You WILL NOT add any water to this mixture, only cabbage and table salt.  You MUST salt each layer as you go through the process.

This crock is about 18 inches tall and about 15 inches across, very large and very heavy!  You can see looking into the crock that I had quite a bit more to fill and mash to get it half full.

The crock is half full, the juices are covering the cabbage and now it’s time to cover the concoction. Eddie has made me a wooden cover 1 inch thick that sits on top of the cabbage.  We need to keep it down on the cabbage tight so that the juices will ferment but nothing, such as dust, bugs, or any other matter can get into the kraut. To do this we fill a heavy-duty trash bag with several gallons of water and tie it up and sit it gently on top of the wooden topper. We move the crock to a dark, cool room (usually my laundry room) and let it work for about two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first peek at the concoction is about 5-7 days from the covering.  We check to make sure it’s bubbling/fermenting and we do our first taste test.  The cabbage will taste slightly salty and may be just a bit  tart.  If we get that taste we know everything is good but if we don’t we may be in trouble!  We check again in two days, sour is good, smelly is bad!!!!  If it’s bad, we throw it out to the chickens.  If it’s sour, we’re whistling Dixie!!  Don’t be surprised if you get a little darkened leaves on top or even a brown bubbling “stuff”, it’s part of the fermentation.  We let it ferment, checking daily now and when it get’s to the sour point of making your face crinkle you’re ready to stop the process and pack it in jars.  I used to use quart jars but the last three years we’ve used pints.  Finish it off by packing the kraut in the jars, cleans off the tops of the jars, put on new lids and rings and pressure can the jars for 15 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, remove from the canner and wait for the jars to seal.  Man, I can taste that kraut & smoked sausage, pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread now!!!

Blackberries In Full Bloom

Unless our summer turns really dry we are going to have a bazillion blackberries this year!!!  I’ll can them, freeze them, make jams and jellies, make some blackberry wine and juice and share with our friends. Here’s a few pictures of our wild patches of blackberries that the honeybees and other bees are making good use of now from the bloom.

These vines in the past except for last year produced huge blackberries.

These vines are in Barker Hollow and across a spring that comes out of the mountain in front of our house.

This is a small patch right beside Barker Hollow road and look very prolific so far.

These are easy to reach from both sides of the fence.

This patch is on the opposite side of that little field where the little barn sits.

The fenceline below the little barn is covered with the vines.

This is going to be the summer of fruit for us unless Mother Nature takes a severe turn. The only fruit that didn’t make it through the last frost was our pear trees.  Apples, peaches, plums, rhubarb, and  berries are abundant and   I will be a busy farm woman!!

 

 

Did I Say Canning Season Was Over. . . NOT!

Nope, canning season is not over and believe it or not I’m glad. I’ve been canning half-gallons of apple juice all morning!

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.

Twenty half-gallons of fresh apple juice canned and sealed.  There’s only 15 jars showing here because the last batch is just about ready to come off the stove.

Our orchards did not bare much for us this year due to the frigid spring and heavy frost when the trees were budding and flowering. I love a glass of juice when I first get up in the mornings and apple juice is one of my favorites right up there with grape juice.  We decided we would have to purchase some apples to make me some juice.

Eddie and I ventured over to Botetourt County last week and picked up six 70-lb. sacks of their cider apples.  The day we arrived to pick them up they were sorting Red Delicious and they were beautiful  Out of 420 pounds of apples we may have found a dozen with rotten spots.

Six bags of red delicious apples

Six bags of red delicious apples

Beautiful Red Delicous apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

Beautiful Red Delicious apples for eating, juicing, cooking and baking.

On Tuesday, our daughter was off from work and came up to press apples with us.  We cleaned up the cider press, washed the apples, and started pressing all of the wonderful juice out of the apples.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Cider press is cleaned and ready to make some juice.

Pouring in the first bucket full

Pouring in the first bucket full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Cider Mill

American Cider Mill

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won't miss a family outing.

Sassy watches close by and freezing since she got a haircut and cold air gets in her old bones pretty quick but she won’t miss a family outing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We finished the seventy pounds with two 12 gallon milk cans full of juice and a bowl full of apples left over to eat and make some apple bars.

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring

We use all of our milkcans here on the farm for cider in the fall, watering our plants as we put them in the garden and for maple syrup in the spring.

Heather presses.

Heather presses.

Mom presses.

Mom presses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Family fun

Family fun

We stored the cans in our garage until this morning so it would stay ice-cold and so the settlements squished into the juice would settle to the bottom of the can.

I washed up all of the half gallons jars and sterilized them for the juice.  Eddie went to the garage and  poured the juice gently into large stainless steel pots and brought them to the kitchen.  I heated the juice just to boiling and poured it into the hot jars. placed the lids on and tighten them for canning.  The jars were too tall to fit any of my canners so we used our turkey cooker for the job and it held five half-gallon jars.

Turkey deep fryer hasn't been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

Turkey deep fryer hasn’t been used a lot but it sure came in handy for this job. I rarely use half-gallon jars for any canning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After placing the filled jars in the “canner”, I filled it with hot water almost covering the jars, turned the heat up to high and waited for it to start boiling.  Once the boiling started, I timed the process for 25 minutes and when completed I turned off the stove and let the boiling stop.  I then picked up the jars and placed them on a heavy towel on my kitchen table (away from drafts) so they could seal. We have twenty half-gallons which should last through most of the winter.

The difference in the quart and half-gallon jar is shown here.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

Half-gallon jar compared to a quart jar.

 

I love these tongs because they're so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

I love these tongs because they’re so strong and easy to handle when removing full, hot jars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We saved the sacks the apples were in to use next year when picking our own apples if Mother Nature cooperates, bagging onions, drying walnuts or anything else we may need them for.

These green mesh sacks held 65 - 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

These green mesh sacks held 65 – 70 pounds of apples and we save them for other uses. Recycle is a big word at our place!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The apple peelings filled up one big galvanized bath tub and four five gallon buckets.  We feed them to each of the three herds of cattle and our bulls.  The extra milkcan of juice will harden to cider which we also love.  If there’s any that gets too hard, I’ll let it turn to vinegar and store it in jugs in the cellar.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They're unbelievably dry at this point. I'm sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it's all gone. I'll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

Leftovers after the juice is pressed out. They’re unbelievably dry at this point. I’m sure the squirrels will be raiding the barn until it’s all gone. I’ll also put some out for the wild rabbits that hang around the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just put some apple bars in the oven and I’ll share the recipe if it turns out well since it’s a new one for me!

There’s rarely anything that goes to waste on our farm.  This does NOT end the canning season either!!!!  I killed a really nice 7-point buck yesterday and the hams will be cubed and canned early in the next week.

Our chestnut season is over though and we sold 35+ pounds of those this week and saved about 10 pounds for ourselves to snack on.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

The chestnuts were few this year but the ones we picked up were huge and so sweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time. . . .

The Garden is Empty (almost)

We’ve cleaned out the garden and everything has been stored, frozen or canned. Hubby did till up a few spots and planted some turnips as a winter crop. He loves them boiled and with almost every meal. I like them raw!!

End of harvest 2016

End of harvest 2016

We harvested several small pumpkins and four large ones.  The small will adorn the entrance to our house and the large ones I canned.  dscn8721

I washed them good on the outside, split them in half, scooped out the pulp and seed and then sliced them to make peeling easier.

 

Split in half to clean.

Split in half to clean.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diced to cook

Diced to cook

I diced them up in 1-2 inch pieces and put them in an old canner.  I put one quart of water over them to cook on the stove on medium low heat.

 

 

 

 

They need to cook slowly to keep from sticking/scorching.  I don’t add any seasoning until they’re to be used for pies, cookies, or pumpkin bread.

 

dscn8723  Once they’re tender enough to stick with a fork, I drain off the water and run the pumpkin through my sieve.  It’s very important to get as much water out of the pumpkin as possible before mashing.  I usually let the pumpkin set in the sieve for about 15-20 minutes so the water on the pieces will drip out.  Dump this water out before pressing.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

It's beautiful and ready to go in the jars.  I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.

It’s beautiful and ready to go in the jars. I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.  

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.  I process them in the hot water bath for 20 minutes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the four pumpkins, I canned six pints and three quarts.  I can’t wait to start baking with them.  My pumpkin recipes will be added to my Recipes From My House To Yours page tomorrow.

I hope you can enjoy your garden harvest as much as we are.  With Hurricane Matthew charging up the coast and a cold front moving in from the northwest I’ve used some of our harvest today to make a big pot of homemade soup!!!  It’s suppertime!

Canning Season Coming to an End

It seems all I’ve accomplished this summer is canning. That’s not a bad thing but when you work so hard all summer and it all fits in one room it’s kind of underwhelming!!

Stocked and ready for winter.

Stocked and ready for winter.

We still need to harvest and freeze some more corn, dig the potatoes and sweet potatoes, harvest the pumpkins and late cabbage.

I started our own sweet potatoes plants this year.  I started our own sweet potatoes plants this year

The plants started really easy and I got 14 plants from two plants.  One end of the garden is full of sweet potato vine.  I've got my fingers crossed that there's lots of sweet potatoes.

The plants started really easy and I got 14 plants from two plants. One end of the garden is full of sweet potato vine. I’ve got my fingers crossed that there are lots of sweet potatoes.

We filled up the food shelves and had to make room on the canning jar shelves for the sauerkraut and barbecue sauce.  The pumpkin and some cabbage will also go on those shelves.  I may even can the sweet potatoes because I don't know how long they will last in the cellar.

We filled up the food shelves and had to make room on the canning jar shelves for the sauerkraut and barbecue sauce. The pumpkin and some cabbage will also go on those shelves. I may even can the sweet potatoes because I don’t know how long they will last in the cellar.

We canned 14 quarts of whole tomatoes yesterday.

We canned 14 quarts of whole tomatoes yesterday.

We froze 16 pints of corn this morning and it’s so sweet.  During the summer I’ve kept busy filling these jars:

28 pints of sweet pickles

28 pints of sweet pickles

18 pints of pickled squash

18 pints of pickled squash

Pickle relish, I think 23 pints.

Pickle relish, I think 23 pints.

21 quarts of squash to use in casseroles and soup

21 quarts of squash to use in casseroles and soup

24 pints of spaghetti sauce and it's so good!

24 pints of spaghetti sauce and it’s so good!

24 pints of barbecue sauce

24 pints of barbecue sauce

Two quarts and 24 pints of sauerkraut

Two quarts and 24 pints of sauerkraut

100 plus quarts of green beans this year

100 plus quarts of green beans this year

18 pints of squash pickles

18 pints of squash pickles

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!  I canned 36 pints of pickle relish.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles! I canned 36 pints of pickle relish.

We froze 24 bags of broccoli and we we’re STILL waiting on the Brussel sprouts.    We’ve never raised them before but the plants are about two feet tall, still healthy and a beautiful green.  We see lots of little heads at the bottom of the stalk but not enough to harvest yet.  They seem to be waiting on something.

I froze 25 half-pints of rhubarb and a few pints of applesauce and don’t need a lot because we have some left in the freezer from last year.  I diced six gallon bags of green peppers.

We’ve fought potato beetles all summer and they seem immune to everything we’ve sprayed on them.  The potato bin is empty now but looks like we’ll have a good harvest again.  We were afraid with all the rain we’ve had this summer that they might rot.

Empty potato bin waiting to be filled.  Last year we almost had it complete full and it'll hold 20 bushel.

Empty potato bin waiting to be filled. Last year we almost had it complete full and it’ll hold 20 bushel.

I hope everyone’s harvest has been as wonderful as ours.  The garden is still full of tomatoes and corn but I think we’ve put away all we need this year.

The hens have sure enjoyed all the scraps!

Chickens waiting for more garden scraps!

Chickens waiting for more garden scraps!

HAPPY GARDENING!!

 

 

Have you ever eat a turtle

We have a pretty large pond in front of our house that is stocked with large mouth bass and bluegill fish.  We both love to fish and don’t fish from the pond a lot because we’re trying to let the pond stock itself and get the fish to a good frying size.

We’re constantly fighting off predators of the fish such as fish hawks, cranes and something my husband calls a “shikepoke” (6-8 inch tall black bird with webbed feet and long beak).  We also have to deal with huge mud turtles that come of the small stream that goes around the pond and down through the property.  Turtles can eat  up the fish pretty quick so we catch them and eat them.  Small ones are caught and released in larger creeks around the county.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

Caught him in the pond in front of our home.

They're mean and eat our fish every year.

They’re mean and eat our fish every year.

DSCN7206

He was eating our bass so now we're going to eat him.

He was eating our bass so now we’re going to eat him.

The meat is beautiful and really good.  We’re told there are seven different types of meat in a turtle including chicken, beef, pork, fish, and I’m not sure what the other meats are but we like it all.

Fresh turtle meat!  We fry it like chicken.  White meat, dark meat, really good.

Fresh turtle meat! We fry it like chicken. White meat, dark meat, really good.

When I cook it I first soak it in salt water overnight and then pressure cook it for about 30 -45 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.  I then check to make sure it’s tender and if it is, I roll it in seasoned flour and fry it in butter.  It tastes just like fried chicken.

I also freeze it and when I do I place about five or six pieces in a Ziploc freezer bag, fill bag half full of water, press out the excess air and freeze.  I know it’ll keep at least 12 months frozen like this but we never have any last that long.  We also put the same amount in our food saver bags and vacuum seal and it keeps well like this too.

We try to always process and can or freeze everything we kill EXCEPT for coons and possums!!  NO THANK YOU!

Canning day again!

Eddie and I spent an hour in the apple orchard yesterday after lunch picking apples from one tree.  They’re huge, sweet/tart, white fruit and beautiful.

We don't know what kind it is but they have a wonderful taste that is not too sweet but not too tart and they're crisp. Hey're bigger than my hand this year and we picked about two bushel.

We don’t know what kind it is but they have a wonderful taste that is not too sweet but not too tart and they’re crisp. They’re  bigger than my hand this year and we picked about two bushel.

Apple picking 09162015 (4)

The tree is fairly young and still loaded with apples. Unfortunately one main branch broke off due to the weight.

The tree is fairly young and still loaded with apples. Unfortunately one main branch broke off due to the weight.

Apple picking 09162015 (6)

We picked apples and chestnuts yesterday and the deer are really coming after the chestnuts.

We picked apples and chestnuts yesterday and the deer are really coming after the chestnuts.

Eddie and I peeled two buckets full this morning and I got 28 quarts of apples canned today.

One sack full and two five gallon buckets full.

One sack full and two five gallon buckets full.

Canning apples (1)

Peeled, washed and ready to pack in the jars.

Peeled, washed and ready to pack in the jars.

We'll bake them, use them for fried pies, make apple pies, and eat them straight out of the jar.

We’ll bake them, use them for fried pies, make apple pies, and eat them straight out of the jar.

I peel the apples and slice them. Then I wash them in ice water twice, pack in jars and them pour a light sugar water syrup up to the neck of the jar. I process them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

I peel the apples and slice them. Then I wash them in ice water twice, pack in jars and them pour a light sugar water syrup up to the neck of the jar. I process them in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.

All 28 quarts sealed. When they cool overnight, I'll take them to the cellar in the morning. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the bushel I have left.

All 28 quarts sealed. When they cool overnight, I’ll take them to the cellar in the morning. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the bushel I have left.

Aren't the chestnuts beautiful too!

Aren’t the chestnuts beautiful too!

Canning season 2015

I retired July 8th and the garden came in like a fast moving thunderstorm!  For that entire month I was either in the kitchen canning, on the porch preparing to can or in the hayfield with hubby moving hay to the haylots.  I want to share with you our season bounty in a photo roll.

14 quarts all sealed and ready for the cellar

14 quarts all sealed and ready for the cellar

A full bushel of yellow onions. All of the red (Spanish) onions rotted in the ground. Apparently they don't like all the rain.

A full bushel of yellow onions. All of the red (Spanish) onions rotted in the ground. Apparently they don’t like all the rain.

The last run of honey for the season.

The last run of honey for the season.

Green beans. They didn't produce like we would have liked. Hubby thinks he minimized the space in the gardens and everything was too close together and the sun couldn't do it's thing.

Green beans. They didn’t produce like we would have liked. Hubby thinks he minimized the space in the gardens and everything was too close together and the sun couldn’t do it’s thing.

Pickles, pickle relish, and more pickles.

Pickles, pickle relish, and more pickles.

Blackberry crop was excellent and I froze a lot of them.

Blackberry crop was excellent and I froze a lot of them.

Apple butter 072015

Apple butter on toast for breakfast. Peanut butter and apple butter sandwich for lunch!

Apple butter on toast for breakfast. Peanut butter and apple butter sandwich for lunch!

Fresh raspberries

Fresh raspberries

Cherries

Cherries

Striper fish, fileted and frozen. I think we froze about 10 packages.

Striper fish, fileted and frozen. I think we froze about 10 packages.

I froze about 15 bags of white corn.

I froze about 15 bags of white corn.

Yellow corn was froze.

Yellow corn was froze.

Delicata squash was harvested and I stored about 20 in the cellar.

Delicata squash was harvested and I stored about 20 in the cellar.

Yellow squash was sliced and vacumn packed with about 20 bags.

Yellow squash was sliced and vacumn packed with about 20 bags.

I froze 18 pints of applesauce made from transparent apples.

I froze 18 pints of applesauce made from transparent apples.

We dug our potatoes on Thursday and picked up 21  five gallon buckets full and they’re beautiful again this year.  The potato bin is more than half full and it’s a 6’x6’x6′ bin.  We picked up about two gallon that were cut when plowed up and Friday I made a crockpot full of potato soup and a half gallon of potato salad.

The cellar is pretty well stocked but for two shelves which I saved for venison.  The Cellar 2015 (3)

This shelf section is full of green beans, canned potatoes and canned sausage.  The second photo is tomatoes, barbecue sauce, spaghetti sauce and more potatoes.  The third is full of jams, jellies, pickles, relish and maple syrup, and more.The Cellar 2015 (2) The Cellar 2015 (1)

We have three freezers of various sizes and one is full of fruit, one with vegetables and meat and the big freezer will be filled with meat as well. My family will be well fed this winter.

Old taters in a jar

We have about two bushel of our 2014 potatoes left over and they’re so good!  BUT, the cellar is warming up a little bit and the potatoes are sprouting and the smaller ones are getting a little soft.  We don’t want to lose any of them so decided we would can them.

Hubby brought them up to the front porch yesterday afternoon and I started peeling them.  I’ll sit on the front porch and do just about anything in the summer time. It’s just so peaceful!

This batch was a milk crate full.

Sprouting potatoes

Sprouting potatoes

The chickens won't eat potato peelings but sometimes the cows will.

The chickens won’t eat potato peelings but sometimes the cows will.

They're not real soft yet and peeled real quick.  I got enough for two canners.

They’re not real soft yet and peeled real quick. I got enough for two canners.

After peeling all of them and scrubbing them, I diced them into about 1 inch chunks and packed them in quart jars.

I smell potato soup this winter!

I smell potato soup this winter!

This is the first canner full and they came off the stove at 10:30 and I went to bed along with Eddie and Sassy! :)

This is the first canner full and they came off the stove at 10:30 and I went to bed along with Eddie and Sassy!  🙂

This morning we took them out of the canner before I left for work and Eddie was going to put the second canner on to process after I left.  We got 14 quarts out of a 1/2 bushel milk crate.  The coming winter will be bountiful with potato soup, shepherd’s pie, fried potatoes, buttered potatoes, and much more.  There’s not much that goes to waste on our farm.  If we can’t give it away, we can or freeze it while we wait for the next garden to come in!!

14 quarts all sealed and ready for the cellar

14 quarts all sealed and ready for the cellar

Aren't they beautiful??

Aren’t they beautiful??

Absence makes the heart grow . . .

fonder and I hope a fresh catch up on my blog.  This summer has flown by and this gal has been topsy-turvy all summer. I hope to remedy that soon and settle into a calmer routine.

To start with the blog has been quiet due to family and work.  In earlier posts I noted that little brother was having some health issues and thank the good Lord above and lots of prayers from family and friends those issues aren’t as bad as expected.  A biopsy was completed on his prostrate after antibiotics were used and the issues remained.  The doctor expected cancer but the results were benign, praise Jesus!!!  The doctors are now treating him for high blood pressure but have released him to compete in Special Olympics and he’s very excited about that.  He will be competing in bowling, swimming and possibly softball and basketball.  Dean is also very happy because he is working three days a week at the James River Enterprise recycling center and loves taking that paycheck to the bank twice a month.  I was told last week that he has the best production of any of his colleagues there that have been working for 13 years.  He still attends “Life Skills” school twice a week.  This summer has been really full for him socially too.  He’s taken trips to Mill Mountain Zoo, The Science Museum in Roanoke, flea markets and festivals, Mill Mountain Playhouse and this weekend is supposed to have gone to the West Virginia State Fair.  He seems quite happy and rarely calls me now but I still call him every week and visit him every other weekend when he’s home.

The other thing that has kept me away from my blog during the week is a change in employment.  On July 25th, I started a new job at Virginia Tech in the Aerospace and Engineering Department and it’s so very exciting.  This job just fell in my lap with a call from my daughters mother-in-law and within two weeks I had the job.  More pay, different working hours and change in scenery have been a great thing for me!!  I miss the colleagues at the Coal & Energy Center but still run into them on campus and talk with them through email.  They were a wonderful group of people!!!

Of course, the garden and homework will always keep me busy and here’s some highlights of what’s going on at home:

Making pickles and I love the smells pickling spice send in the air.

Making pickles and I love the smells pickling spice send in the air.

Abundance of squash and what in the world do I do with it all???    Give it to anyone that will take it, of course!!

Abundance of squash and what in the world do I do with it all??? Give it to anyone that will take it, of course!!

Beautiful applesauce, cooked off, and in the freezer!

Beautiful applesauce, cooked off, and in the freezer!

Canning, canning and more canning!

Canning, canning and more canning!

Kitchen table is staying covered with produce from the garden.

Kitchen table is staying covered with produce from the garden.

Sterlizing jars of all sizes and filling up the cellar.

sterilizing jars of all sizes and filling up the cellar.

Gorgeous English cucumbers for canning pickles, eating raw, for salads and of course, for friends and family!!

Gorgeous English cucumbers for canning pickles, eating raw, for salads and of course, for friends and family!!

Green peppers and the plants are full of them.

Green peppers and the plants are full of them.

Banana peppers by the baskets full!

Banana peppers by the baskets full!

Gorgeous Kennebec potatoes bigger than my hand.

Gorgeous Kennebec potatoes bigger than my hand.

These came from two hills and I cooked some with fresh green beans and we baked some for supper last night.  SOOOO good!

These came from two hills and I cooked some with fresh green beans and we baked some for supper last night. SOOOO good!

Mr. Stripey and German Pink tomatoes are being picked daily to keep the chickens from getting them.

Mr. Stripey and German Pink tomatoes are being picked daily to keep the chickens from getting them.

Golden nectar from the honeybees again.  We got 13 quarts with comb and 1 quart of strained.  We lost a lot of bees last winter but the ones that made are working so hard!  We may get one more super before we end the season!

Golden nectar from the honeybees again. We got 13 quarts with comb and 1 quart of strained. We lost a lot of bees last winter but the ones that made are working so hard! We may get one more super before we end the season!

More baby chicks!  Last two hatches produced four each.

More baby chicks! Last two hatches produced four each.

And of course, a little bit of crafting.  More details on this in a new post.

And of course, a little bit of crafting. More details on this in a new post.

No more blocks :(

It’s two weeks into the new year and I haven’t made anymore blocks for my sampler quilt.  The weekends have been slam packed with other stuff and I haven’t sit foot in my quilt room.  Shame on me!!  This week I’ll try to do better.

Last weekend we hauled in firewood and put away the last of the venison and pork.  This weekend we worked around the house, cleaned the hen house nests, and today spent most of the day working cattle.  We had twelve 3-4 month old calves to vaccinate, worm, band and eartag and 15 cows to worm and eartag.  Our daughter helped with was a blessing and we finished in about two hours.

There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done!!  No pictures today!  Cattle don’t fare well in a head chute and having their pictures made.  Anyway, on with the new week and hopefully the sampler blocks will be made.  I’m only about 30 blocks behind!!  🙂

 

Stores for the winter still in progress

It seems we never finish storing and preparing for winter.  This weekend hubby bought 75# of pork which consisted of three hams and 20# of  jowls.  One of the hams is currently in the smokehouse taking salt, seasoning and brown sugar.  We should be able to enjoy it sometime in March or April.  The rest was made into sausage.

You may ask why we didn’t raise our own hogs and the main reason is the price of corn.  When we figured out the time it takes to raise a couple hogs, feed them sacks and sacks of corn and grains, and then the waste that goes with the processing, we determined it’s much cheaper and efficient to buy from pork sellers.  The cost of the hams was $1.35 per pound and the jowls were $1.00 per pound.  It took us about 12 hours of processing which including some freezing and some canning.

Here’s the process we used to can the sausage:

Fresh ham for sausage

Fresh ham for sausage

First he removes the skin from the ham.

First he removes the skin from the ham.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds.  This is the true version of suet.

The skinned hide will be hung outside for the birds. This is the true version of suet.  The birds love it and it puts some meat on their bones to withstand the winter.

 

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

Hubby slices the meat off of the ham in slender strips to send through the grinder.

 

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

Grinding equipment is sterilized prior to grinding.

 

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

Wide mouth quart jars are also sterilized and dried prior to making the sausage into patties.

 

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

The strips of pork are now ready for the seasoning.

 

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat.  It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

Old Plantation seasoning is what we use and one pack will season 25 pounds of ground meat. It is thoroughly mixed through all the meat.

 

The grinding begins.  We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

The grinding begins. We run it through using a course blade the first time and then using a finer blade the second time.

 

Isn't it beautiful!!  It's now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

Isn’t it beautiful!! It’s now ready to be made into patties and packed into the wide mouth jars.

 

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

Seven wide mouth quart jars ready for lids and placing in the pressure canner.

 

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

Pressure canner filled with water, jars of meat and sealed ready for heating. I cook it for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

 

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

After the canner cools down the jars are placed on the table out of way of ALL drafts and covered with a heavy towel until they cool completely before taking them to the cellar.

 

While they cooked we tried some for supper and it was wonderful.  Pancakes and sausage are on the menu for breakfast.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

Fresh cooked sausage patties ready for a big fat biscuit.

We canned 28 quarts of sausage and froze the remainder in bags much like you see in the grocers.  We’ll use this first instead of the canned because we found that frozen sausage keeps really well in vacumned sealed bags but they are expensive.  Since we only had about 15 pounds left over we decided to use the bags pictured in the following photo.  These bags just don’t keep the meat from freezer burn as well.  We have a tape machine that seals the bags but they’re not airtight.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

Grinding the sausage straight into the bags, twist them up and slide through the tape machine to seal.

All done!!

What to do with all those tomatoes

Plum tomatoes

We seem to have an abundance of plum tomatoes this year and I’m trying to find new canning/freezing recipes for them.  On Friday I picked about 20# of the little critters and cleaned them up.

I pulled out an old recipe I had used when the kids were little and made 10 pints of spaghetti sauce.  The recipe ingredients were tomatoes (of course) which had been cooked and run through a sieve.  When I cooked them I didn’t use any extra water because I wanted the tomato juice and pulp only.  To the pulp I added sugar, salt, oregano, basil, garlic, onions, green peppers, and red wine vinegar.  I can’t tell you the exact amounts because I played with the ingredients until hubby liked the taste and consistency.  I started with 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup salt, oregano, and basil (remember this is 20 pounds of tomatoes).

Cooking it down!

I used four medium onions, four green peppers, four cloves of garlic (minced) and 1/2 cup of red wine vinegar.  This smelled heavenly while cooking down but the taste was a little sour and bland so I added more of the first four ingredients until we thought it was perfect.  I cooked it down some more until it was pourable but a thicker consistency than tomato juice.  I poured it in the jars, put the lids on to seal and processed them in my pressure canner for twenty minutes.  They’re beautiful, don’t you think!!

Spaghetti sauce

10 pints of beautiful spaghetti sauce

Next batch will be canned as barbecue sauce.

Busy weekend!

I don’t waste any time on my weekends off and this past weekend was no exception. The garden is very bountiful and I snapped a five gallon bucket and half of another on Saturday afternoon. We canned 21 quarts of beans from that batch, froze 13 packs of yellow squash and froze six packs of shredded zucchini. I made a loaf of zucchini bread on Saturday and hubby loves it. We’ve only got about two slices left so I’ll make some more this week. I’ll probably bake 6 – 8 more loaves and put them in the freezer for the winter.

Zucchini and zucchini bread fresh from the oven

Fresh vegies ready to store

We froze five packs of freezer slaw last night and we’re going to open a pack on Saturday and see how it is. If we like it we’re going to make more. The head of cabbage he got out of the garden yesterday weighed 15 lbs and 2 ozs.

He dug a few potatoes last Thursday and they’re really nice and he pulled the onions to dry. We had such beauties this year but the rains we’ve been getting are causing them to rot which is why we’ve pulled them so early. We probably were able to salvage about a bushel.

Onions drying for winter storage

Hubby is picking more beans this morning and we’ll snap them this evening after supper while sitting on the front porch listening to the quiet and watching for the wildlife.

Green beans from the garden

Can’t stand waste

Last summer wasn’t the greatest year for our garden.  It was wet and cold for so long and getting the planting done took a lot of patience waiting for the ground to dry enough to plant anything.  We’re going through pretty much the same scenario this spring.  Even though it was a tough spring for the garden we had three nice rows of potatoes and we were able to store about eight bushel in the cellar and they’ve kept really well.  We ate a lot of them and shared a lot with family and friends.  As of today we still have about four bushel left in storage and with the warm weather coming in early they’re starting to sprout.  We go through this every year but usually just a bushel left in storage and we use some of them for seed.  This year is a little different.  We haven’t planted yet due to the rain and the garden is too wet to do much in the way of planting.  This afternoon hubby brought a five gallon bucket to the front porch and we sat together peeling and dicing.  They’re beautiful and we’ve just took one canner off the stove and have seven more quarts on the table ready to go in the pressure canner.  They’ll be wonderful in a pinch (when I forget to thaw anything for supper or we’re out all day on the farm) and we ‘ll have fourteen quarts from that five gallon bucket.  They’ll be wonderful baked with some butter and oregano sprinkle on top, made into a big pot of potato cream soup, heated in butter and covered with cheese (cheese last thing to go on because hubby hates cheese) or fried with onions and served with cornbread and pinto beans.  We will eat good in the coming winter!!